As a result of research the Danish Riding Federation have set a limit for noseband tightness in competition which is a start but why is change taking so long and is it enough?
The study conducted in 2014/15 examined over three thousand Danish horses after they had performed in dressage, show jumping, eventing and endurance competition and found that almost one in ten of them had lesions or blood on their lips.
The incidence of these mouth lesions was proven to be linked to those horses wearing very tight nosebands with tighter cavesson nosebands increasing the risk of mouth lesions and other styles of nosebands increasing the risk of lesions even more when compared with the loosest cavesson noseband. These findings did not differ between bit types or bitless bridles but the incidents increased as the level of competition got higher.
As a result of these findings the new ruling stipulates that there must be a minimum space of 1.5cm between the noseband and the horse's nasal bones and officials have been given a wooden tapered gauge to make sure that competitors adhere to it.
It worth noting that the researchers were not allowed to look inside the horse's mouths however as equestrian federation rules do not permit a full intra-oral examination at competitions. If they had it would have probably uncovered more damning evidence of the effect of tight nosebands. It's a shame they couldn't also measure the hidden bruising caused by tight nosebands around the nasal bone and lips. Others have already done research into the 'distress' caused by overly tight nosebands but obviously only physical signs have an impact on those who make the rules. Although they seem to have been ignoring their own eyes for far too long!
Unfortunately, we've still got a long way to go to change attitudes to training horses. There are still those who want fast results and to subdue horses and mask the lack of correct training with gadgets and tight nosebands. Shutting a horse's mouth with a tight noseband is simply a way to 'shut it up!' At least competition horses in Denmark now have at least 1.5cm worth of room to show how well they have been trained! But why aren't all countries doing the same?
More information HERE