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Flash vs. Figure 8

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  • Flash vs. Figure 8

    I am looking to buy a new bridle and would like opinions on which noseband would be better. I have always ridden my horse in a Flash. He tends to open his mouth to avoid the bit(just a simple eggbutt snaffle). It's something he has always done even after being adjusted, having his teeth floated, and changing bits. He tends to be a bit heavy on the forehand(he's slightly downhill) and leans at the beginning of a workout; usually I can get him to stop and engage behind after a while. Before I buy a new bridle I just wanted to get your opinions on whether the flash is the right noseband for him or whether i should get a Figure 8. I'm not really 100% sure as to the different pressure points between the two. Any opinions, ideas to get him off my hand, or info would be much appreciated!
    "There is no secret so close as that between a rider and his horse." - Robert Smith Surtees

  • #2
    My mare has always been a jaw-locker, bit evading leaning gal! I feel your pain!

    I have tried a flash and a figure 8. THe flash was the most noticeably helpful of the two but I wish I would speak more to the mechanics.

    However, regarding the leaning/heavy in your hands problem: I had a trainer who really helped us get past that. It was more a problem when doing dressage than jumping. So much a problem that my hands would actually fall asleep!!! We worked through it with the following exercise:

    Go about usual business/flatwork.
    When heaviness starts ask for BIG half halt. Almost a downward transition.
    Focus on rocking her back on her haunches but not away from the bit and NO snatching! Keep leg on and do not walk.
    The instant she lightens in the bridle send her forward again and be sure to give with hands (since no longer asking for half halt).
    Go back to business as usual.

    This technique will not change things overnight but really worked wonders over time. Do NOT be punitive about it though. It is just an exercise that shows the horse what you want. Be gentle and kind with you hands and the GIVE at the end is essential because it rewards the lightening. This was most useful at the trot for us but I imagine a more skilled equestrian could translate it beautifully to the canter as well.

    This really worked for us. I hope it makes sense. Best of luck.
    "We can judge the heart of a man by his treatment of animals" Immanuel Kant


    • #3
      If you already have a flash bridle, and she opens her mouth with this, you may want to try the figure eight.
      But the devil is in the details on mouth openers and bridles....adjustment is key. If you don't have the noseband high enough or the flash attachment correctly adjusted, it doesn't help to try a different setup.
      I never pass up a good excuse to buy a new bridle, however!
      Proud & Permanent Student Of The Long Road
      Read me: EN (http://eventingnation.com/author/annemarch/) and HJU (http://horsejunkiesunited.com/author/holly-covey/)


      • Original Poster

        Thanks to both!

        VicariousRider- I will definitely start putting that exercise to use! One trainer I have ridden with suggested I just hold my hands steady and let him fight against himself, while pushing him forward with my leg. This seems to help, but maybe adding the large half halts will improve things even more! I will be using this starting tomorrow!

        retreadeventer- He doesn't open it as much with the flash as without. I think it has to do with the crappy bridle I have now. It's not a very nice one, but has stayed in pretty good shape for 9years now, so for $90 I think it was a good deal The thing I don't like about it(other than the stiff leather) is that the noseband tends to get pulled down his nose by the flash strap. The noseband is on the thinner side, would one that is slightly thicker be better?
        This is an alright picture of how it gets pulled down a bit: http://s13.photobucket.com/albums/a2...t=P9030016.jpg
        Ignore my face, I was memorizing my course and i make interesting faces while concentrating
        "There is no secret so close as that between a rider and his horse." - Robert Smith Surtees


        • #5
          With the flash, the caveson and flash are independently tightened, while in the figure 8 there is some give between the 2. I've heard arguments on both sides as to why that makes each harsher/more effective (for the flash, when they open their mouths, the flash adjustment doesn't "give," for the figure 8, when they open they get resistance in both places).

          I haven't noticed a huge difference between the 2 for most horses, though I did have 1 horse that I thought breathed better xc in a figure 8 (even with the caveson at the base of the cheekbones the flash seemed to just restrict a little--he had very flarey nostrils). Since him I've used that instead of a flash x-c on everyone, and used whichever I thought was better for the horse in dressage, but that's probably just personal superstition.

          I'd try both, and not be surprised if you don't notice much difference.


          • #6
            Looks to me like the caveson is not tight enough. They really have to be quite snug for the flash not to pull the caveson down. A lot of people are too timid to get them tight enough.

            I prefer figure eights, as I do tend to think they work better and have a better fit. A figure eight can also give you a teeny-tiny bit more brakes since it does apply a very small amount of poll pressure when the horse braces his jaw against the noseband. I also think most horses tend to LOOK better in figure eights, unless they have very fine, pretty heads.


            • #7
              Two different experiences

              I put my older mare in a figure-8 for about a year because she would lock and crank her jaw. The figure-8 convinced her not to do it anymore and now she just goes in a caveson.

              My younger mare has a very soft mouth and would always fuss and chew - even on a loose rein. I tried her in a figure-8 one day just for the heck of it and WOW what a happier horse! The annoyed chewing has stopped and she is way more relaxed. In looking at how they fit her, I think the caveson would put pressure on her upper nostrils and/or her teeth on the sides.

              I think it is worth trying on any horse to see what they prefer!


              • Original Poster

                The caveson is actually pretty snug, I don't think I could get it any tighter, maybe one more hole. I agree with the look of a figure 8, they look sharp. Any opinions on the Nunn Finer bridles?
                "There is no secret so close as that between a rider and his horse." - Robert Smith Surtees


                • #9
                  Reiner Klimke, a man who knew his way around a horse, advised loosening the noseband on a horse who opens his mouth and, if that didn't help, taking the noseband off entirely.

                  His noseband of choice was the dropped noseband.


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by yellowbritches View Post
                    Looks to me like the caveson is not tight enough. They really have to be quite snug for the flash not to pull the caveson down. A lot of people are too timid to get them tight enough.
                    Flash nosebands really do just do that. Unless there is quite a bit of rigidity in the cavesson, a flash will always pull down in the middle if there is sustained tension on the drop portion.
                    If you are allergic to a thing, it is best not to put that thing in your mouth, particularly if the thing is cats. - Lemony Snicket


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by JER View Post
                      Reiner Klimke, a man who knew his way around a horse, advised loosening the noseband on a horse who opens his mouth and, if that didn't help, taking the noseband off entirely.


                      • #12
                        also depends on shape of head

                        My mare has quite a wedge shaped head and I could never get a flash tight enough, there wasn't enough room as her nose slimmed down so fast. The figure 8 fits her better. Another horse with a longer, straighter profile fits fine in the flash. Just my 2 cents..
                        Riot Farm


                        • #13
                          I was advised by a pretty good dressage instructor that a drop noseband can be really useful in teaching the horse that it's OK to keep your mouth closed and accept the bit - the placing holds the bit in place.

                          but they are way out of fashion now.

                          My mare went through an open mouth phase this summer and I tried a figure 8 on her. (cue Wayans brothers....) HATED IT.... In fact we had worse and worse and worse rides for 2 weeks until one day I tried adjusting and adjusting it (loose, tight, low, high) and finally in frustration took the whole thing off and hung it on a jump standard. Happy Mare. So we went back to the cavesson.

                          Turns out her mouth issues were solved when my hands are right and she's supple in her poll and working properly from behind. And I know there are horses who need them, prefer them etc, so I don't want to come across with the "proper schooling solves everything" answer, because I've sure had horses who needed equipment.

                          I use a flash jumping. She tolerates that fine.