Sweden to Weigh Whether to Follow Denmark with New Noseband Rule

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Steward checking horse in rain after competition ride. File photo. © Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

Oct. 23, 2017

By KENNETH J. BRADDICK

The Swedish federation expects to complete by year’s end a report on the use of nosebands to help decide whether to follow Denmark’s adoption of a new rule on tightness on sport horses.

The United States reported it will look into the report by the Danish Equestrian Federation that decided to impose a rule for all horses in competition on Jan. 1, 2018 to require a certified measurement unit between the nasal plate of the horse (bony surface) and the noseband equivalent to a diameter of at least 1.5 cm/0.59 inches.

The Danish study of the use of tack and equipment including nosebands, spurs and whips on 3,000 dressage, jumping, eventing and endurance horses over at least three years found “a clear correlation between tight nosebands and the presence of mouth lesions.”

The German federation, one of the largest in the world and one of the most influential, earlier this month released its the new edition of rules and standards stating the correct application of the noseband takes into account “the well-established principles of the ‘Old Masters’.”

The views of several national federations were sought by dressage-news.com after the report by the Danish federation on the use of various items of tack and equipment that led to the adoption of a rule requiring a device to measure the fit of nosebands. The fit of nosebands has long been an issue–too tight that could cause so-called “blue tongue” leading to disciplinary action for causing discomfort to the horse or too loose so as to allow an open mouth that could influence judges’ scores.

Illustrations of measurement angles with different types of nosebands, as provided by the Sanish Equestrian Federation.

The current International Equestrian Federation (FEI) rule for stewards checking equipment when the horse leaves the competition arena states: “The tightness check must be done with the steward’s index finger between the horse’s cheek and the noseband. The steward must wear gloves during this check.

“Ideally the finger size of stewards appointed for the noseband check at different competitions throughout the event shall be of similar size.

“In case of an apparent overtightened noseband during the horse’s warm-up, the appointed tack control steward is entitled to conduct the check also during the warm-up and, in case of the noseband being overtightened, ask the athlete to loosen the noseband.

“The noseband of the horse will be checked again by the same steward after the horse has finished the test. If the noseband is still too tight after the second check, the chief steward will give a Yellow Warning Card to the athlete.”

A spokesperson for the Swedish federation said: “At the moment a survey regarding nosebands is being conducted on the initiative of our sports section,” said a spokesperson for the Swedish federation. “The report is estimated to be ready before the end of December.

“The results from the survey, together with the findings from the Danish report, will be the basis for a possible change in our regulations from 2019.”

US Equestrian, with the third largest number of horses and riders behind France and Germany participating in international horse sports, said it is requesting a copy of the Danish study to consider whether action should be taken.

A German federation spokesperson said its rules are designed to ensure the horse is able to chew on the bit with relaxed tongue muscles and a closed mouth, and must have enough freedom in the jaw.

The newly released rules require that the noseband “should fit easily and should not disturb the horse‘s breathing nor the activity of the mouth (chewing). This clarifies that it neither be too tight nor much too loose so the noseband fulfills its purpose, which is to provide a quiet position of the bit in the horse’s mouth.”