Sunday, February 15, 2009

Nosebands on Icelandic Horses

Why are nosebands used on Icelandic Horses?

Many times we see the Icelandic Horses fighting the bit. It would appear that the jointed bits bother the interior of the Icelandic Horse's mouth. The heavy contact compounds that problem for the horse.

The horse tries to open his mouth to get away from the action of the bit and the harsh contact.

The noseband is tightened up to keep the horse's mouth closed on the bit.

Is that the answer?

Many horses in the world do not wear nosebands and do not open their mouths to get away from the bit.

If something is wrong, we need to find out what it is. If the noseband hides the problem, the problem is still there. A good horseman will not let the horse suffer if he is trying to tell us something is wrong.

Let's start with tossing out the nosebands, and correcting the problems caused by the bits and the heavy contact.

If the jointed bits are a problem for the conformation of the interior of the mouth of the Icelandic Horse, let's use a solid mouthpiece, perhaps a mullen-mouth bit, no shanks.

If the heavy contact is a problem for the horse, let's try riding on a loose or casual rein.

The Icelandic Horse is a smart horse. He does not need or want to be micro-managed through his mouth, while being ridden.

With a smart horse, a well-trained horse, and a good rider, the horse doesn't even need to wear a bit; he can go bitless.

Some other articles to read about Icelandic Horses and bits:

[] Behind the Bit

[] Frame and Reaction to the Bit

[] Gag Bit

[] Gerhard Kapitzke on Nosebands

[] The Leveller Noseband

[] Noseband Affects Breathing


bettina said...

Hey :) Thank you for our comment on my blog. Good to know that not only fiber-art-crazy people find their way to over there.

It's a good job you're doing making people aware of the misuse of nosebands. But still I ask you not to condemn nosebands in general. If they are used correctly they do not harm any horse. You saw the pictures I posted on my blog, my horse wears a noseband on all of them, and has her whole life. I for one think that she does look quite content, don't you too?
Still: I'd rather have a horse be ridden without a noseband, than always see those terrible pictures of open mouths and thin bits. Gruesome.
And that a noseband has no place on a horse that's ridden with a curb bit should go without saying.

I'd love to continue this conversation, but I think on my blog it would be quite out of place, since it's mostly a fibre craft related place. If you want to, you can contact me at bettina(.)reisinger(a)gmx(.)net

Kafen said...

While I am against extra use of force in any aspect, there are a couple comments I would like to make. The first one being that another, better use for a noseband would be that over difficult terrain, if a horse falls the rider will jerk on the reins as a result, opening the horses mouth if there is no noseband. Then, the horse's lower jaw acts as a shovel, and can be broken as a result. That is why the use of nosebands started in the first place: war. I do agree that horses doing flatwork do not need a noseband if they know how to properly hold a bit.

Another aspect you mentioned would be the mullen mouth bit. I would have to disagree on this because the design of that bit would flatten the horse's tongue. I don't see how that could be any more comfortable. Instead, I would suggest double jointed with a smaller bean because the Icelandics have such small mouths. Please look into them if you haven't already, they seemed to have made many happy horses here!

Thank you for the post!