Different Nosebands for Horses & Their Uses

What is a noseband for horses?


The part of the horse's headgear that goes around the nose and jaw is referred to as the noseband. In English riding, it's often called the cavesson if it's connected to its own headstall or crownpiece and kept separate from the bit.

The noseband is the most vital aspect of the bridle as it determines its purpose. It reveals the discipline in which the bridle is used. Riders often have different preferences for the types of nosebands in each discipline, due to the wide range of options available. Some nosebands can be used in competitions and are acceptable in all disciplines, while others are only allowed in specific disciplines, for instance, plain noseband is allowed in dressage but grackle noseband is not.


What does a noseband do?


The primary reasons for wearing a noseband during training are typically regarded as follows in English disciplines, including modern dressage:

  1. To maintain bit stability, ensuring that the mouthpiece is quiet and straight
  2. To encourage an infant horse to accept the bit by preventing excessive mouth gaping, jaw crossing, and tongue placement over the bit.

The noseband helps you work delicately at all times by preventing tongue issues and keeping your horse's lips closed.


Types of nosebands


Certainly, there is a wide variety of nosebands available, each designed with specific functions and fitting options to cater to the unique needs of horses and riders. Here's a list of the nosebands used widely:

  • Cavesson Noseband
  • Crank Noseband
  • Flash Noseband
  • Grackle Noseband
  • Drop Noseband
  • Lunging Noseband
  • Rope Nosebands
  • Kineton Nosebands
  • Sheepskin Nosebands
  • Australian Cheeker
  • Combination/Lever Nosebands

We talk about a few commonly used ones below.

1. Cavesson Noseband


Also known as: Regular noseband, Plain Noseband

Purpose: A Plain Noseband, is made up of a single leather strip that wraps around the horse's nose and buckles beneath the chin. It is the most straightforward and common style of noseband.

In addition to plain flat leather that is appropriate for hunting, this noseband is also offered in raised, double raised, fancy stitched, and padded styles. They all perform the same purpose.

Disciplines: It is used in almost every discipline particularly dressage, show hunting, equitation, and field hunting.

Fitting: It is placed around the horse's nose at a point about two fingers' width below his cheekbone. The cavesson noseband, which is the most popular in English riding, is frequently referred to as a "regular noseband." Go to link

ExionPro Hunter Bridle Plain Wide Cavesson Noseband

2. Crank Noseband


Also known as: Swedish Cavesson, Cinchback Noseband, Adjustable Noseband

Purpose: A Crank Noseband, is similar to a Cavesson with the exception of a unique adjustment mechanism that uses leverage to enable a rider to "crank" the noseband tighter. These nosebands are thicker and may have more padding than a traditional cavesson due to the force that the crank applies.

Disciplines: At levels where a double bridle is worn, dressage horses most frequently use this noseband. Due to the fact that double bridles cannot be used with flash or drop cavessons, the crank is seen on advanced dressage horses that can't keep their mouths shut. It can occasionally be seen on hunt seat equitation horses as well as showhunters.

Fitting: Just like any piece of equipment, it can be uncomfortable if not used correctly. Although a crank noseband does enable a very snug fit, it's crucial to keep in mind that tighter isn't always better. The crank noseband's purpose is to enable a precise, snug fit, not to force a jaw shut. Go to link

ExionPro Dressage Bridle
3. Flash Noseband


Also known as: Aachen Cavesson

Purpose: An alternative to a crank noseband is a flash noseband, which applies less pressure to the horse's mouth and is helpful for getting rid of evasive behaviours like crossing your jaw or covering your bit with your tongue.

Disciplines: This kind of noseband is favoured by jumpers as it can also be used with a standing martingale. This noseband is usually seen at the lower levels of dressage, or in the dressage phase of eventing.

For riders who are experimenting with different nosebands, it's also a cost-effective choice because a flash attachment can convert your regular noseband into a flash noseband for a fraction of the price of buying a new one. Go to link

Removable Flash Noseband vs. Removable Flash Noseband and Flash Attachment

4. Grackle Noseband


Also known as: Mexican Cavesson, Figure Eight Noseband

Purpose: As the name suggest this noseband runs from the top of the cheekbone on one side, crosses the nose to the chin groove on the other, under the horse's chin, and then returns to the opposite side forming an eight. The two thin leather strips that cross in the middle of the horse's face, with a disc of leather or sheepskin to prevent pinching and rubbing, make it easy to identify.

It has the advantage of staying far away from the horse's nostrils while still allowing a normal field of vision because it sits higher up on the face than a regular noseband. The figure eight is thought to be a reasonably comfortable option that also aids in keeping a horse's mouth shut because it sits furthest away from the soft nasal tissue of the face.

Disciplines: For strong horses that need to be able to breathe deeply, like jumpers, eventers, and race horses, the figure eight noseband is a popular option. It has also long been a favourite in show jumping. Go to link

ExionPro Figure 8/Mexican/Grackle Noseband

5. Drop Noseband


Also known as: Hanoverian Noseband

Purpose: The drop noseband functions similarly to a flash but does not require a second piece of leather to keep the horse's mouth shut. Due to its placement, it shouldn't be used with a standing martingale.

As opposed to the other nosebands, a drop noseband tends to constrict the nostrils if it is fitted improperly, making it less suitable for galloping work. This noseband, when worn correctly, serves as a constant reminder to your horse to keep his mouth shut and keeps him from crossing his jaw. It's a well-liked training tool for young horses that are still learning to accept the bit.

Disciplines: In dressage, the crank-with-flash combinations have replaced the once-common drop noseband. Some riders and trainers claim that the drop's low position on the nose makes it less aesthetically pleasing to the heads of their horses, and they attribute this to the drop's decline in popularity.

Fitting: The drop noseband is worn lower on the horse's face than any other kind, as its name suggests. It fastens under the horse's chin and rests just below the bit. The noseband should still rest on the nasal bone despite its low positioning. 


6. Lunging Noseband


Purpose: This noseband, which is made of leather, is used to longe a horse. Although the longing cavesson resembles a halter somewhat, the noseband can be adjusted, and rings are placed strategically on the sides and in front of the nose to allow for the attachment of side reins or a longe line. Despite being a relatively gentle piece of equipment, it offers much better leverage and more precise control of a horse when used for ground training.


Which noseband is best for horses?


There is no "best" style of noseband. The appropriate response depends on the horse, the rider, and the circumstance, much like the majority of other horsemanship skills.

The "best" noseband is essentially whichever the horse is most at ease wearing. However, once rider error or physical discomfort have been ruled out, we should start with the simplest and most basic noseband before moving on as needed.

It mainly depends upon the what the rider wants and what the horse accepts. You need to find that sweet spot between the comfort of your horse and the purpose of the noseband. With the above mentioned popular nosebands you will be able to do that with ease.




1. Do you need a noseband on a bridle?


Although the majority of horses do not require nosebands, they are commonly used on them. However, they do play a crucial and specialized role in training. By stabilizing the bit or helping a novice horse adjust to the bit, nosebands can aid in transmitting rein aids effectively and preventing negative behaviours like gaping from developing.


2. Does your horse need a noseband?


If you have developed good hands and a horse that is responsive to light signals, using a noseband is usually not necessary. In fact, allowing the horse's mouth to move freely and promoting a relaxed chewing motion can improve training and performance.


3. Are nosebands bad for horses?


Nosebands are not inherently harmful to horses. Properly adjusted and used responsibly, they play a crucial role in maintaining control and communication between rider and horse.

However, misuse or overly tight fitting can be detrimental. It's essential to ensure a comfortable yet effective fit, allowing natural jaw movement and swallowing while preventing bit evasion. Responsible noseband usage is essential for safe and effective horse riding and training.


4. What does the noseband do on a bridle?


The noseband on a bridle serves to maintain control and communication between rider and horse. Positioned just below the cheekbone, it keeps the horse's mouth closed, ensuring the bit stays in place and preventing evasion maneuvers.

Various types of nosebands, like the cavesson, flash noseband, and figure-eight noseband, offer specific functions and fitting options, crucial for comfortable and effective riding and training.


5. What is a flash on noseband?


A flash is a narrow leather strip that is fastened to the centre of a typical noseband. The flash descends at an angle below the bit and is fastened under the chin. It is fastened to the noseband through a removable attachment that either loops onto the noseband or through a leather loop stitched into the cavesson.


6. What are flash noseband converters?


Some flashes are permanently looped onto the noseband. "Convertible" or "Removable" flashes are attached to the noseband using a detachable strap that wraps around it or by threading the attaching strap through a covert slot in the noseband.


7. Why use a noseband on horse?


Using a noseband on a horse is essential for maintaining control and communication between rider and horse. It keeps the horse's mouth closed, ensuring rein cues are effective, and secures the bit in place.

Different types of nosebands offer specific functions and fitting options to suit the horse's and rider's needs, facilitating precise communication during riding and training.


Here at bridlesandreins.com, we specialize in making horse tack and have a number of nosebands you can choose from in any size that fits your horse best!