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Open AccessArticle

The Reported Use of Nosebands in Racing and Equestrian Pursuits

1
Sydney School of Veterinary Science, Faculty of Science, University of Sydney, Sydney NSW 2006, Australia
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School of Animal and Veterinary Sciences, University of Adelaide, Roseworthy Campus, Roseworthy SA 5371, Australia
3
Saddletops Pty Ltd, PO Box 557, Gatton, Queensland 4343, Australia
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Animals 2020, 10(5), 776; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10050776
Received: 6 November 2019 / Revised: 7 January 2020 / Accepted: 24 April 2020 / Published: 30 April 2020
(This article belongs to the Section Equids)
Nosebands are commonly used in many equestrian and racing disciplines. Despite common industry knowledge regarding the correct adjustment of nosebands, there seems to be a trend of overtightening nosebands and exposing horses to high pressures that restrict normal behaviours. Thus, there are concerns that nosebands could have harmful physical and behavioural impacts on horses. This article reports the results of an online survey of horse owners, riders and trainers that explored the distribution of common noseband designs across various disciplines, the reasons for their use, their perceived effectiveness, design preferences and how tightness is monitored, as well as detrimental consequences of their use. Most respondents reported using Plain Cavesson nosebands, with Hanoverian nosebands and so-called “cranking” systems also being common. Reasons for using nosebands varied widely among respondents according to noseband type and discipline. Preventing a horse’s tongue from moving over the bit, improving its appearance and aligning with the rules of the sport were the most nominated options. Almost a fifth of respondents reported physical and behavioural complications related to noseband use. The most common complication was hair loss under the noseband. Most respondents specified that they check noseband tightness at the bridge of the nose. Given the emerging discourse around restrictive nosebands and horse welfare, this article can inform industry and regulatory bodies about the types of nosebands used on horses in training and competition, the reasons for using nosebands and how noseband tightness is being monitored.
This article reports on the results of a survey designed to explore the types of nosebands that owners, riders and trainers use in training and competition, their reasons for using nosebands, the design preferences in different disciplines and approaches to noseband tightness and monitoring, as well as the incidence of negative impacts related to noseband usage. Respondents (n = 3040) were asked to specify the type of noseband they were currently using and to rate how effective they were in achieving these stated reasons. Respondents who used nosebands (n = 2332) most commonly used Plain Cavesson (46.6%, n = 1087) and Hanoverian (24.8%, n = 579) nosebands. The reasons provided in the survey for noseband usage were grouped into three broad, mutually exclusive categories: Anatomical; Consequential and Passive. Responses across these categories were fairly evenly distributed overall: Anatomical (29.5%, n = 1501), Consequential (30.6%, n = 1560), Passive (32.9%, n = 1673) and other reasons (7.0%, n = 358). Across all respondents (n = 2332), the most common Anatomical reason given was to prevent the horse’s tongue from moving over the bit (20.8%, n = 485), the most common Consequential reason was to improve the appearance of the horse (20.4%, n = 476), with aligning with the rules of the sport (30.2%, n = 705) the most popular Passive reason. Of the respondents who answered the question of checking noseband tightness (n = 2295), most reported checking noseband tightness at the bridge of the nose (62.1%, n = 1426), some (10.4%, n = 238) reported checking for tightness on the side of the face and others under the chin (21.5%, n = 496). This survey also revealed some of the potential issues associated with noseband use, with 18.6% (n = 434) reporting at least one physical or behavioural complication. The most common complication was hair loss under the noseband (39.9%, n = 173). Crank systems were reported to be used by 28.9% (n = 665) of respondents. This is of concern as these devices can be excessively tightened, minimising jaw and tongue movement and may compromise horse welfare. Indeed, the current data in our study show that these devices are associated with an increased risk of complications being reported. Against the backdrop of potential harm to horse welfare associated with restrictive nosebands, this report may serve as a guide for future regulations and research. It helps improve our understanding of noseband preferences and their use in different disciplines. View Full-Text
Keywords: horse; equitation science; welfare; safety horse; equitation science; welfare; safety
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MDPI and ACS Style

Weller, D.; Franklin, S.; Shea, G.; White, P.; Fenner, K.; Wilson, B.; Wilkins, C.; McGreevy, P. The Reported Use of Nosebands in Racing and Equestrian Pursuits. Animals 2020, 10, 776. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10050776

AMA Style

Weller D, Franklin S, Shea G, White P, Fenner K, Wilson B, Wilkins C, McGreevy P. The Reported Use of Nosebands in Racing and Equestrian Pursuits. Animals. 2020; 10(5):776. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10050776

Chicago/Turabian Style

Weller, Dominic; Franklin, Samantha; Shea, Glenn; White, Peter; Fenner, Kate; Wilson, Bethany; Wilkins, Cristina; McGreevy, Paul. 2020. "The Reported Use of Nosebands in Racing and Equestrian Pursuits" Animals 10, no. 5: 776. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10050776

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