Dropped Nosebands, Flashes, Figure 8 - What noseband is right for your horse?
Choosing a proper noseband for your horse is more than aesthetics; nosebands serve a useful purpose. There are many noseband styles and brands on the market for equestrians. Different disciplines, training levels, and horses will have different noseband requirements. Before purchasing a noseband, make sure it follows the regulations for your discipline. Most English disciplines allow nosebands in competition, but not all styles are permitted in every discipline.
French Cavesson- (plain/ standard)
Most bridles come standard with a French cavesson noseband. This noseband encircles the nose 1-2 inches below the cheekbone and attaches with a strap over the crown. If appropriately worn, a noseband’s function is to gently remind the horse to keep their mouth closed while under saddle. The standard french cavesson noseband will work well for most horses, which is why it is the most common. It is also widely accepted as an excellent green horse noseband and does not push young horses too fast into unnecessary training aids.
A drop noseband was widely popular in dressage but in recent years has been replaced by the cavesson and flash combination. A drop noseband sits lower on a horse's nose. The noseband encircles the mouth at the bit height. The placement of the drop noseband makes it much harder for horses to avoid the bit or open their mouth. Aesthetically, a drop noseband gives the appearance of a longer face/nose.
Aachen Noseband (Flash Noseband)
A German trainer invented the Aachen noseband or more commonly known as the Flash, in the 19th century. This training aid is an additional leather strap, with a buckle added under the french cavesson noseband and wraps under the chin below the bit. Similar to the drop noseband, this training tool is a good noseband for transitioning from a drop noseband to a standard or moving gradually in the other direction. The Flash is simple to use and very popular for this reason. You can elect to use it with your bridle one week and remove it the following week without significant adjustments to your bridle.
The shape of this noseband is where it gets its name. The infinity symbol shape of the noseband allows more control over your horse's mouth and nose and is placed higher than a Flash. Figure Eight nosebands are preferred by Jumpers and prohibited in Dressage. The high position of the noseband allows for better airflow through the nostrils.
There are many, many more noseband styles and types on the market. Your best bet is to search for your needs and find what's best for you and your horse through trial and error. Remember to be patient. It may take a few tries to find the right option for your horse. Trainers can also provide recommendations based on your horse, training level, and chosen discipline. Proper fit will impact function, so if unsure, ask your trainer to double-check the noseband placement and tension.