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A noseband is part of the classic equestrian equipment and completes the bridle. It ensures an optimal position of the bits in the horse's sensitive mouth and transfers part of the bit's action to the bridge of the nose. Therefore, it must not be buckled too tightly or too loosely. The so-called snaffle bridle is one of the classics among the riding nosebands and is one of the most widely used all over the world. A variation of the English cavesson is the Swedish noseband.
When talking about classic nosebands, the standard cavesson is definitely one of them. Together with the standard cavesson, the snaffle bridle forms the bridle for your horse, with which you can influence it sensitively and guide it. The traditional standard cavesson is made without a flash strap. It consists only of a noseband. The noseband is relatively wide and considerably higher than the noseband on bridles with drop nosebands. Correctly buckled, the standard cavesson sits approx. 1-2 cm below your horse's cheekbone. When riding on a curb bit, only the English cavesson is used. As the double bridle and therefore the standard cavesson is mainly used in dressage and classical riding, this snaffle bridle is available in many great designs and colours. Super popular are standard cavessons in brown or standard cavessons in patent leather.
The flash noseband is sometimes simply called a combination noseband. It is used in all equestrian disciplines because it fits almost all horses well. For example, the English snaffle bridle is also seen on special breeds of horses, such as Icelanders. The flash noseband is a combination of the classic cavesson and drop nosebands. The plain noseband is extended by a locking strap or chinstrap. This is passed through a small loop on the noseband of the snaffle bridle and buckled underneath the snaffle bit. The correctly buckled flash noseband bridle for ponies or horses must not restrict the activity of the mouth. The flash noseband is one of the traditional bridles, but in terms of design and appearance it is in no way inferior to newer bridles, such as the Micklems from Horseware. Particularly trendy are white-lined snaffle bridles.
The construction and effect of the Swedish noseband is almost identical to the English flash noseband bridle. At first glance it is difficult to distinguish between these two snaffle bridles, however, the difference is the strap of the Swedish noseband. The noseband is closed with a padded buckle. When the Swedish noseband is buckled correctly, it provides better pressure distribution over the entire noseband, avoiding individual pressure points. In addition, the Swedish noseband is wider and better padded than that of the English crank noseband snaffle bridle, which is why many horses particularly like the Swedish version. Swedish nosebands without a locking strap are also used in combination with the curb bit. Swedish nosebands made of patent leather and brown Swedish nosebands are very popular.
A correctly fitting bridle is the basis for good performance when riding, and your horse can only achieve this when it feels comfortable. The comfort factor can be significantly increased by an anatomical English snaffle bridle or an anatomical Swedish noseband. Anatomically shaped bridles are specially adapted to the complexity of your horse's facial nerves and reduce pressure at various sensitive points.
For young horses having a bit in the mouth is unfamiliar and annoying at first. Therefore bitless snaffles are very good for young horses. Western riders use a sidepull or lindy for this purpose. Both are bitless snaffles that look like halters and rest on the bridge of the horse's nose. Even those who want to ride in the classical English style can train a young horse with a bitless snaffle. For example, there is the Bitless Bridle, which was invented by an American veterinarian.
This is not only to protect the horse's sensitive mouth, but also to prevent the animal from choking. Choking fits can be caused by increased flow of saliva when the horse is mouthing with a bit. If you want to use a bit, a bridle with a drop noseband or English noseband combined with a water snaffle or an eggbutt snaffle is a good choice. However, neither should be too thin. The thinner the bit, the harsher the effect in the horse's mouth.
A Micklem bridle is a snaffle bridle that was designed by William Micklem for the Horseware company. His aim was to take better account of the horse's anatomy. Due to its special cut, this snaffle avoids pressure on the particularly sensitive areas of the head. These are the neck, the nose bone, the upper and lower jaw, the tongue and the corner of the mouth as well as the facial nerves.
The Micklem bridle is available in two versions: "Multi Bridle" and "Competition". The "Multi Bridle" can be used with or without a bit. With the help of accessories, the "Multi Bridle" can also be used as a cavesson bridle. In addition, a supplementary mouth and tongue guard can be fitted. However, this is not possible with the "Competition" version, as it is not permitted for competitions. Used as a normal snaffle bridle, both versions are approved for all types of shows.
Many horses find the Micklem bridle more comfortable than the traditional versions. They are calmer and respond better to the rider's aids.
Fitting the English snaffle or, rather, the English noseband, should be easy for every rider. However, sometimes the noseband gets fastened too tightly, which can cause pain to your horse. If you adjust your snaffle bridle correctly, it should be tightly fastened two finger widths below the cheekbone and loose enough so that you can easily reach underneath with two fingers next to each other.
The throatlatch should be loose enough so that you can place your clenched fist between the horse's head and the throatlatch. The throat lash should fit snugly and smoothly. If it is too loose it can slip down or lose its effect. If it is too tight then it will be very uncomfortable for the horse and will cause a problem. If you fit your English snaffle correctly, it will support you and your horse in communicating via your aids.