View Full Version : Why yes, I do use a flash

Jun. 19, 2010, 02:06 PM
I've been doing some yard work and such for a local horse owner who is of a different discipline, horse type, etc than I am. Its cool discussing different aspects of horses with her and seeing how each of us does things.

We got to nosebands yesterday, and flashes/figure eights/drops came up (the horror). She asked rhetorically that maybe a person should rethink what they are doing with their horse if they need to strap its mouth shut.

I was sort of blank of a defense of such nosebands. I use a flash on my dressage bridle mostly because I've always done, and trainers and more experienced horse people I deeply respect have always supported my horse going in one. If I take it off she is still rideable, but with in a few days can/will take advantage and not be as accepting of contact. She is a horse who in the past got away with murder on the flat and is very opinionated ;).

I have the figure eight because I use a flash on the flat, and thought I'd get something that wasn't pressing on her soft nasal tissues.

The only thing I could think of was to mention something published in horsejournal that says that flashes can help stabilize the bit, which can be particularly helpful in young horses. Of course then she asked why a person would use a bit that moved around....

Anyways, what would be a good defense, if any, for flashes and other related nosebands in such a discussion?

Jun. 19, 2010, 02:24 PM
She asked rhetorically that maybe a person should rethink what they are doing with their horse if they need to strap its mouth shut.
Maybe the best answer is also rhetorical: an absent, noncommittal "mmm-hmmm, we should all rethink what we're doing once in a while"
said with a smile. Then keep doing what works for you. :)

Dogmatic proclamations are easy to make, hard to live up to. Those who make them categorically out themselves as anything but practical, realistic people who have ridden a mile in many other peoples' stirrups. :)

Jun. 19, 2010, 02:41 PM
I try not to put nose bands as tight as they could go because I honestly think the same thing.

That being said, I do own one pony who will completely take advantage of me occasionally by opening her mouth, putting her head up, and taking off. She is younger, and still testing out her boundaries. She weighs ten times what I do, and I don't ask her to do much. I use a Figure Eight on her, just for those times that she tries something. By preventing her from being able to take off comfortably, I feel I am stopping a very annoying bad habit.

I guess I relate a nose band to spurs, and martingales. They shouldn't have to used all the time, but it is nice to have a backpack plan. (Though, I rarely use either.)

Jun. 19, 2010, 02:51 PM
I think in some cases a horse needs to use a flash because of the start they got. If they were started with good soft hands then they probably trust the hand/contact and will not worry with their mouths. Conversely if they have learned not to trust the contact, they may evade it by opening their mouths.
This illustrates the importance of carefully and sympathetically bitting a young horse, because we all know that they have the memory of an elephant.

On the other hand - some horses just like to rest on the bit with an open mouth.

Jun. 19, 2010, 03:02 PM
Just because they are on doesn't mean the mouth is "clamped shut". Properly used they should delineate for the horse just how far their mouth may move in response to the bit, and help the horse to find a different answer to the question asked by the pressure of the bit.

Gaping mouth, tense neck & nose up = engage the flash/fig 8 =wrong
Soften jaw & neck = no pressure from flash = right

If she rides a discipline where there is virtually no bit contact other than for a second's bump, and where the head, neck and mouth must remain still at all times, then the action, communication, and purpose of the bit is radically different than in dressage or jumping. It's like trying to compare classic french cooking and szechuan cooking - some similar ingredients and methods, radically different outcome.

Jun. 20, 2010, 02:04 AM
For shits and giggles, I rode with out a flash today. My horse was not gaping her mouth open, but she had no mouth foam which is unusual, so I would surmise that she is more relaxed in the jaw with a flash that with out. Will continue to do what is working for me and tell any future nay sayers about this ride. :)

Jun. 20, 2010, 11:50 AM
What we do requires our horses to have contact with the bit. They learn to rely upon contact for direction. My event horse is a spooky, wandering nitwit without soft consistent contact -- that gives him an idea of the speed, direction, impulsion and line I want him to have. The "giving" of contact will encourage him to seek it in order to find the balance I want him to have. Contact is our lifeline, so to speak, in OUR horse-event/dressage/jump rider partnership. Utilizing the equipment we do - flashes, nosebands, snaffles -- encourages that contact. Don't forget -- we ride FORWARD. Our horses must jump, gallop and extend even basic gaits in our low level dressage tests!

Jun. 20, 2010, 11:58 AM
The western reiner could argue that they ride forward too, they do much of what we do except jump. It's a different frame, and a different level of contact, but it's very much forward.

Jun. 20, 2010, 02:58 PM
Horse #1: Flash for dressage, running martingale and figure 8 for jumping. Anything else and she is wide open and through my aids.

Horse #2: Plain cavesson loosely adjusted for all three phases.

Horse #3: Not competing, but rides at home in a plain cavesson for trails, flat, and small jumps.

Horse #4: Green bean, has only gone in plain cavesson, loosely adjusted, for trails, flat work, and a little jumping.

I competed my old guy without a flash in Training and First level and evented BN and N with him in a plain cavesson.

If they don't need it, I don't use it. If they go better with it, I do. Less is more, so I start with less and then add more if it seems required.

Jun. 20, 2010, 09:05 PM
Adding a flash or running martingale is a very viable alternative to going to a stronger bit IMO. Both of these only come into play to reinforce the aids when the horse is evading - they do nothing when the horse is on the aids.

I started my pony in a plain cavesson but tried a flash on him for the first time this weekend. I was able to be much softer with my half halts. I can't really complain about something that allows me to finesse more with my aids!

Jun. 21, 2010, 12:47 AM
I use a loose flash (at shows only) to keep my horse from sticking his tongue out and waggling it around...

Jun. 21, 2010, 09:34 AM
Adding a flash or running martingale is a very viable alternative to going to a stronger bit IMO. Both of these only come into play to reinforce the aids when the horse is evading - they do nothing when the horse is on the aids.

That is precisely my reason for using a figure eight. I am not one to bit up my horses, but sometimes it's nice to have a bit more control. That being said, I don't notice an enormous amount of difference while riding in the figure eight. I guess it's all in proper fitting and proper use.

Jun. 21, 2010, 05:17 PM
Funny, my new client just mentioned today how she doesn't like flashes and figure 8. I just said, "Oh well, good thing we are so far away from there still..." :). They are just babies still. I close their mouth when they need it closed. If they open it to get away from me and avoid their work, I shut it for them, if I don't think I'll notice a difference, then I I don't.