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What is the actual purpose for a flash & noseband

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  • What is the actual purpose for a flash & noseband

    I've read through a few COTH search results and googled this but found myself to be overwhelmed with different responses, including but not limited to, using a noseband to teach a green horse about the bit (paraphrasing), preventing the horse from crossing their jaw.

    This all makes my head spin because it doesn't necessarily make sense to me. Some of the reasons I've read make me think, "the horse does that because something is physically uncomfortable".

    I strongly don't believe in a tight noseband or flash. I would prefer to ride without it but just haven't done it yet. But, I have been told by many trainers that I need to tighten my noseband and I feel as though it is just a bandaid.

    I'm not looking for solutions for my horse, but I am curious to know if there is "true" reason to use a noseband or flash and/or if there are any benefits that can come from a noseband or flash.

  • #2
    As you decide what to do, be aware that too loose a cavesson can rub!

    I could never find a reason that made sense to me -- and western riders don't use a noseband (unless they want a tie down) -- so I don't use one. But then, I don't compete, either.

    Comment


    • #3
      I ride with no noseband. If I'm in a situation that requires one for appearance I use a loose one.

      A noseband and flash should not be tight.

      They are often used tight IME to keep the horses mouth shut so the rider can use very strong rein aids without the jaw opening.

      Comment


      • #4
        I've heard a variety of reasons:

        More control.

        Keep them from gaping their mouth.

        Without a noseband they'll open their mouth more and of they run away with you there is less control.
        ​​​​​​
        A flash stabilizes the bit.

        Aesthetics.

        I generally ride without a flash and a loose (but not sloppy) nose band. My horse goes the same with or without a flash. I've ridden without a noseband and also survived. A well fitted noseband that is not tight shouldn't impede the horse in anyway, nor should it be uncomfortable.

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        • Original Poster

          #5
          Originally posted by Scribbler View Post
          I ride with no noseband. If I'm in a situation that requires one for appearance I use a loose one.
          When you take off the noseband, what do you do with the cheek piece straps that are attached to the crown piece so they aren't flapping around?

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by mydogs View Post

            When you take off the noseband, what do you do with the cheek piece straps that are attached to the crown piece so they aren't flapping around?
            In a standard crown you can remove the entire noseband caveson and there will be no flapping..

            On a monocrown the noseband is built into the crownpiece, so when you remove the noseband, there will be flaps.. you can use a rubberband or vet-wrap or switch to a different bridle.

            In theory if you don't have a noseband, you don't need the monocrown anyway -- the reason all that padding up there is good is because the noseband extorts poll pressure when it is tight. Lose the noseband and you lose a huge percentage of poll-pressure because it is the noseband that pulls down the headstall across the crown.

            The main reason people use a flash is to keep the mouth shut, and hide symptoms of resistance to the bit. It's why it is so popular in dressage and eventing. The whole "it stabilizes the bit" is hooey - it only "keeps the bit more stable" because the mouth is strapped shut. You want to stabilize the bit, use a different headstall design or a different bit. All the flash does is securely keep the mouth shut. Alternatively, use a drop though a drop operates much the same and does keep the bit stable by virtue of the horse not being able to open his jaws/move the bit around.

            AETERNUM VALE, INVICTUS - 7/10/2012

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            • Original Poster

              #7
              Originally posted by beowulf View Post
              In theory if you don't have a noseband, you don't need the monocrown anyway -- the reason all that padding up there is good is because the noseband extorts poll pressure when it is tight. Lose the noseband and you lose a huge percentage of poll-pressure because it is the noseband that pulls down the headstall across the crown.
              I'm trying to visualize how the noseband exerts poll pressure. Can you explain this a little bit more? It makes sense but I'm having a hard time thoroughly understanding all of it.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by mydogs View Post

                I'm trying to visualize how the noseband exerts poll pressure. Can you explain this a little bit more? It makes sense but I'm having a hard time thoroughly understanding all of it.
                It's easier to feel than to see. I hope I do a good job explaining below vvv
                The tighter the noseband, the more poll-pressure it exerts because, the horse's nose is wedged shaped and narrowest at its base (which would be the fleshy nostril area) - the noseband will travel as much as it is able towards the thinnest part of the nose, in my experience -- pulling the headstall with it. The tighter the noseband the more extreme this pressure is across the crown, because the tension of the noseband directly affects the cheek-straps, which are connected to the crown.

                Next time you bridle a horse, bridle as normal and feel under the poll - try to slide your hand under the crown-piece and feel what that feels like.

                Then, tighten the noseband 2 holes tighter, if you can, and then feel the difference across the crown. IME most people tighten as much as possible.. I do not see many boarders or riders that actually practice the two-finger rule. I think COTH is a special breed of conscientious horse owners, most like-minded (and drawn to COTH in the first place because they are always looking for ways to better their learning) so I give you the benefit of the doubt

                Now, remove the noseband entirely, and feel the crown again -- you'll notice the bridle is astronomically looser under your hand because one of the main points of tension is now gone.

                AETERNUM VALE, INVICTUS - 7/10/2012

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                • Original Poster

                  #9
                  Originally posted by beowulf View Post
                  I do not see many boarders or riders that actually practice the two-finger rule. I think COTH is a special breed of conscientious horse owners, most like-minded (and drawn to COTH in the first place because they are always looking for ways to better their learning) so I give you the benefit of the doubt
                  I've also followed the 2+ finger rule because that is what Pony Club taught me. But, I found that to be confusing because when your 2 fingers are put together, you can place the back of your fingers parallel with the horse or perpendicular with the horse. If it is perpendicular, there is obviously more space between the noseband and the horse. I always did 2 finger perpendicular to the horse because that made more sense to me, but I was recently told I was doing it wrong.

                  I've had someone make my horse's noseband really tight that was well past my comfort zone and say, "look, I can fit 5 fingers under the noseband". I mean, the girl had to use some effort to tighten it! But, her hand was laying flat against the horse. In my mind, if I try hard enough, I can still manage to get 2 fingers under even the tightest noseband depending on where I choose to check.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by mydogs View Post

                    I've also followed the 2+ finger rule because that is what Pony Club taught me. But, I found that to be confusing because when your 2 fingers are put together, you can place the back of your fingers parallel with the horse or perpendicular with the horse. If it is perpendicular, there is obviously more space between the noseband and the horse. I always did 2 finger perpendicular to the horse because that made more sense to me, but I was recently told I was doing it wrong.

                    I've had someone make my horse's noseband really tight that was well past my comfort zone and say, "look, I can fit 5 fingers under the noseband". I mean, the girl had to use some effort to tighten it! But, her hand was laying flat against the horse. In my mind, if I try hard enough, I can still manage to get 2 fingers under even the tightest noseband depending on where I choose to check.
                    The PC rule, as a fellow PCer, is not clarified too well but it is supposed to be 2 fingers, under the bridge of the nose (so, the top of their nose) and on the side of their cheeks. If you use 2 fingers under their jaw, it is a very different result.
                    AETERNUM VALE, INVICTUS - 7/10/2012

                    Comment

                    • Original Poster

                      #11
                      Originally posted by beowulf View Post

                      The PC rule, as a fellow PCer, is not clarified too well but it is supposed to be 2 fingers, under the bridge of the nose (so, the top of their nose) and on the side of their cheeks. If you use 2 fingers under their jaw, it is a very different result.
                      Thanks! That makes more sense, I always did under the jaw. I'll have to compare the two tonight.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Interesting sidebar. I was always taught two fingers perpendicular to jaw. IMO that is pretty generous and can sometimes seem a little too loose, aesthetically. I just tighten enough that there isn’t a huge gap but also isn’t any active pressure.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          I mostly use them for aesthetics at this point on my two mares. The youngster, no flash - because that's simply more than I want on her head right now. The noseband is loose. My 8 year old, the noseband and flash as also quite loose (if I want, I can unbridle/bridle without undoing them loose). Where the flash helps is it keeps the bit lifted in the corners of her mouth. For a bit with two breaks in it (typical french link) and loose rings, horses with busier mouths prefer that. It shows up at a halt of on a loose rein - it does nothing while we're actually working, in which keeping rein action lifting toward the corners of the mouth does that.

                          My gelding has always had bit issues and contact issues since the track. In his case, poll pressure makes him angry, but he also wants the bit higher in his mouth than I would have adjusted one before him. He has a drop noseband, and the way it fits the groove of his chin holds it in place, and it in turn holds the bit up, without being tight or putting extra pressure on his poll. This combined with a soft, bendy type of one piece bit (nathe) has made a massive difference for him, when training and education alone couldn't fix his issues.
                          If Kim Kardashian wants to set up a gofundme to purchase the Wu Tang album from Martin Shkreli, guess what people you DON'T HAVE TO DONATE.
                          -meupatdoes

                          Comment

                          • Original Poster

                            #14
                            Originally posted by netg View Post
                            My gelding has always had bit issues and contact issues since the track. In his case, poll pressure makes him angry, but he also wants the bit higher in his mouth than I would have adjusted one before him. He has a drop noseband, and the way it fits the groove of his chin holds it in place, and it in turn holds the bit up, without being tight or putting extra pressure on his poll. This combined with a soft, bendy type of one piece bit (nathe) has made a massive difference for him, when training and education alone couldn't fix his issues.
                            How did you determine to adjust the bit higher than usual? Did you decide to try something different and see if it works?

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              My understanding is that the flash was created as an alternative to a figure-8 to facilitate the use of a standing martingale.

                              In reality (though there are exceptions), it mostly gets used to keep a horse's mouth closed.
                              If we have to nail on talent, it's not talent.
                              Founder, Higher Standards Leather Care Addicts Anonymous

                              Comment

                              • Original Poster

                                #16
                                Originally posted by pattnic View Post
                                In reality (though there are exceptions), it mostly gets used to keep a horse's mouth closed.
                                What would you consider to be the exceptions?

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by mydogs View Post

                                  How did you determine to adjust the bit higher than usual? Did you decide to try something different and see if it works?
                                  A groom who my trainer had hired adjusted it and was used to putting bits way higher than I do. Total accident which it turned out he loved - like 3-4 wrinkles instead of the 1 I usually tend toward. He has a tiny mouth, so it made sense a little difference in height felt very different to him.
                                  If Kim Kardashian wants to set up a gofundme to purchase the Wu Tang album from Martin Shkreli, guess what people you DON'T HAVE TO DONATE.
                                  -meupatdoes

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    The flash was invented in the late 70s or early 80s by the riders at the German Dressage horse auctions. They wanted to be able to use a standing martingale (hence the regular noseband) AND keep the mouth closed (which would normally have involved a dropped noseband). The "flash" is an attempt to serve both those goals.
                                    Janet

                                    chief feeder and mucker for Music, Spy, Belle and Tiara. Someone else is now feeding and mucking for Chief and Brain (both foxhunting now).

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      Originally posted by mydogs View Post

                                      When you take off the noseband, what do you do with the cheek piece straps that are attached to the crown piece so they aren't flapping around?
                                      I have a traditionally styled headstall so the noseband and cheek pieces come off altogether. You might not be able to do this with some of the anatomical models.

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        The noseband is there on English bridles to prevent the bit from being pulled through the mouth. It is the same reason Western riders use curb straps on their snaffle bits (though I have seen at least one rider still manage to pull the bit through...).

                                        Another reason for the development of the noseband was preventing a horse from getting it's jaw stuck in the turf (and potentially breaking it) if the horse went down in battle or out on a hunt or racing.

                                        Now what people choose to do with them in modern times often varies wildly from their original intent and purpose.

                                        Personally I like to keep mine fairly loose, basically there to look pretty and keep the bit from sliding through the mouth in extreme moment.

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