View Full Version : figure 8 bridle

Jul. 11, 2011, 01:47 AM
Could you please talk to me about a figure 8? I have been looking at getting one and during a recent discussion someone said they are harsher than a noseband and cavesson.

It seems to me that with the leather out of the way of the nose they shouldn't impede the airways and unless overly tightened how could they be harsh?

They look tidier to me than a droopy noseband and cavesson.

thank you.

Jul. 11, 2011, 03:03 AM
I am not sure that they are legal in the dressage arena :( I believe they are meant for more control over fences or on cross country ect. I do not know the mechanics of it, maybe an eventer, or jumper may be able to help a bit more!

Jul. 11, 2011, 03:56 AM
IIRC, a figure-eight is legal if it does not have any metal touching the horse's skin.

From the USEF rulebook:
For Training, First and Second Level tests and FEI Pony tests, a plain snaffle bridle is required
with a regular cavesson, a dropped noseband, a flash noseband (a combination of a
cavesson noseband and a dropped noseband attachment) or a crossed noseband. Except for
the FEI Pony tests, a crescent noseband is also permitted at these levels. Except for the crescent
noseband, buckles and a small disk of sheepskin, which may be used in the intersection
of the two leather straps of a crossed noseband, the headstall and cavesson/noseband of
the bridle must be made entirely of leather or leather-like material. A padded cavesson/noseband
and crownpiece are allowed. A browband is required, and except for the parts that attach
to the crownpiece or headstall, is not required to be made of leather or leather-like

So this would be legal:

But this would not be legal:

Someone please correct me if I'm wrong.

Some horses just go better in a figure eight, my mare's one of them. In my opinion they are no more harsher than a flash.

Jul. 11, 2011, 01:41 PM
They are legal, but not "traditional" (for whatever that is worth).

I had an OTTB who went in one. They are not "harsh".. but they are designed to correct a specific problem which is the horse crossing it's jaw (from side to side). So it does signal that your horse may not be as relaxed in the mouth as you might like.

A cavesson and flash, on the other hand, is designed to keep the horse from opening its mouth and evading the bit that way. I'm not sure that one fault is really worse than the other... but I think in terms of showing, a lot of judges see flashes on every horse just because the dressage bridles are all made that way -- so they don't assume it is there for a reason. While a judge seeing a figure 8 might suspect (and go looking for) signs of mouth tension/bit evasion.

I think flash nosebands have become so much the "norm" for dressage -- almost like a standing martingale for hunters over fences -- that the judges don't even think twice about them.

Jul. 11, 2011, 07:08 PM
My event horse goes in a figure eight full time. They are certainly legal for dressage where a snaffle is worn, with and without rings on the side of the face. The rule referenced above is talking about the crossing point on the horse's face.
I don't think they are harsher per se, they just have different pressure points. They are commonly used for horses that twist their jaw, but can be used for fussy horses as well. My event horse was high score second level in one at his last big recognized show, he simply hates a cavesson and flash. I honestly think that if the horse is going well, the judge probably doesn't care. Try it and see!

Give and Take
Jul. 11, 2011, 10:58 PM
My westfalen jumper went in a figure 8 because he would constantly move the bit around in his mouth.

When he became a dressage horse, the trainer put a flash on him. He was in a clinic with Pam Goodrich and she said some horses get into the habit of playing with a french-link-type bit. Sometimes, she said, it works to sealtex the bit joints until they get over playing with it.

Jul. 12, 2011, 06:38 AM
Could you please talk to me about a figure 8? I have been looking at getting one and during a recent discussion someone said they are harsher than a noseband and cavesson.

It seems to me that with the leather out of the way of the nose they shouldn't impede the airways and unless overly tightened how could they be harsh?

They look tidier to me than a droopy noseband and cavesson.

thank you.

they are harsher, be it figure of 8 or a crackle which is much the same thing,
they work on the poll, chin , and bridge of the nose, in unexpreince can be dangerous, and or if the horse is sensitive at the poll, can and does make a horse flip over backwards or rear, the purpose of the the nose band is to help a horse stop crossing his yaw

one would look to holes in his training, and one should never go to a quick fix method or short cuts as in can be the rider as in bad hands or lack of edcuation on both the horse or the rider

a caverson on the other hand only should be to steadier the bit in a horse mouth



Jul. 12, 2011, 07:47 AM
Could you please talk to me about a figure 8? I have been looking at getting one and during a recent discussion someone said they are harsher than a noseband and cavesson.

It seems to me that with the leather out of the way of the nose they shouldn't impede the airways and unless overly tightened how could they be harsh?

They look tidier to me than a droopy noseband and cavesson.

thank you.

Patrick goes in a sliding figure eight because it simply fits better. His big head and roman nose mean that normal bridles have the cheek pieces attached too far forward on the cavesson, and tend to rub his cheekbones. A sliding figure eight was cheaper than a custom bridle.

As for harshness, well, it reminds him to keep his mouth closed, but it isn't strapped so tight he can't open it if he wants. I've seen flashes done up so tight that they've pulled the cavesson down the nose and must be uncomfortable. Anything can be harsh if you pull it too tight.

(I think they're legal for dressage. Not sure what the rules committee was going for with the no-metal-touching part, does anyone know? To have a sliding figure eight be legal while a fixed ring one is not doesn't make sense.)

Jul. 14, 2011, 10:48 AM
Thank you for the replies. Interesting about perceptions.

Since the figure 8 part is not attached to the reins at all and the bit is attached to a basic headstall I don't see how there could be more poll pressure or how the bit could be any harsher.

Certainly if the noseband is overly tightened that would be uncomfortable,
I have never used one so don't have personal experience.

They look to me like they couldn't be tightened as tight as a flash and noseband.

Jul. 14, 2011, 10:54 AM
Thanks for the link to sustainable dressage, I have read that before but lost it.

The author makes some good points about being careful re the horses molors.

Aug. 11, 2011, 11:40 AM
I have tried a figure 8 so thought I would report what I have observed.

My mare seems to like it. The amount of chewing has dropped at least 50%. Now she just seems to mouth the bit instead of aggressively chewing it.

She goes well, and actually because she is not so busy chewing so seems to 'hear' the bit/reins quicker so I think she is lighter in the figure 8 than in the cavesson/flash.

The bridle has a lovely padded crown with the noseband piece going over the crown, padded brow band, adjustment buckles on both sides of both the bridle.

What I wonder is if the piece of wool padding will compress and be useless or not?

What I don't like is where the buckle of the upper noseband piece does up happens to end up right at the bone of the jawline, can't seem to adjust it away from there.
Also, the leather of the noseband has no padding where it crosses the bony part of the cheek.

True there is no movement there but still I notice that part sweats and wonder if a 'wear' spot will develop with time.
I would prefer some padding at that location.

Maybe I am going overboard with the padding but if a wear spot does develop that would indicate movement and could lead to tenderness at that area.

Just my thoughts.

Sonoma City
Aug. 11, 2011, 12:38 PM
I'm confused about the reference to it having more poll pressure as well, not sure how this could happen.

I agree with other posters that it is only as harsh as the hands that are adjusting it. I have a horse that goes better in a figure 8 when going cross country, but I've never used it for dressage. It's generally used for strong horses who cross their jaws and brace. As another poster noted, it can be useful for horses whos head shape does not work well with off the shelf cavesons since you have a bit more adjustability. One thing that I have noticed though is that it will hold the bit up a bit more in the horses mouth than a regular cavesson/flash setup since there is a steeper angle with the strap that goes under the bit. This is caused because the X on the figure 8 sits higher on the nose than where the flash would drop from the bottom of a regular cavesson. I don't have an issue with this for my horse, but just an observation on how it can affect the bit placement.

Aug. 11, 2011, 02:54 PM
I prefer them to flashes, just because they're much easier to fit properly. A properly fitted flash doesn't impede the horse's ability to breathe, but they're very easy to fit incorrectly.

Everyone has put forth a bunch of points, and I can't do much more than repeat them so I won't.

But I figured I should say something about the "Mexican" Figure 8 and the Grackle- I've always been told the "Mexican" one is the one with rings, while the Grackle has sliding side pieces. Whatever it's called, I prefer the fixed rings- It's harder to fit, so it'd be a good idea to only buy ones you can return if they don't fit the horse, but they hold the adjustment. In my experience, the one with the sliding pieces are easier to fit but tend to slide, often to the point where you're basically using a Flash anyways.
"Grackle": http://t1.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcR411Nyb_EqqXPc9Pc_LE7VPoHogxRRE T3xS3P9WoX08J3-WxHTAw
"Mexican" : http://www.thesaddleryshop.co.uk/Admin/Images/114989ec-179e-496e-b7f0-212b9d93e1ef.jpg

Aug. 11, 2011, 04:24 PM
I don't think you have to worry about wear spots. In all the horse's I've watched on cross-country, where sweating is standard, the strapthat goes over the cheek boneon doesn't seem to be an issue.

Did you get the Mexican or the Grackle figure-eight?

And the picture that Mkelle11 posted of the grackle is a good example of a too tight grackle. The poor horse, you can see the fleshy part of the cheek above the bit bulging out because the lower strap is so tight. :(

Aug. 12, 2011, 11:45 AM
The figure 8 I have has rings. Interesting about the other style being difficult to keep adjusted.

Good to know that I likely won't have wear spots.

Maybe the bit being higher and less wiggle room is what my mare likes, hence less chomping, she didn't merely chew, she chomped liked she was trying to soften that metal.
Now she just mouths the bit.

Sep. 18, 2011, 12:34 PM
I am now wondering about exactly where the band that goes over the jowl should go.

Since I have been using it quite a bit the think the leather has stretched slightly, what happens is the strap slides off her jowl and then the crossed peice over her nose slides down and then the strap that goes in front of the bit is too loose.

Should the strap be placed over her jowl (the fleshy part)or should it go a fit further forward.
I think it is supposed to fit across her jowl and I will just going to have to put another hole in the strap to make is snugger.