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The use of crank nosebands has been brought into question by riders and industry officials, but the FEI has no plans to ban their use.

David Hunt, president of the British International Trainers’ Foundation, said he was “dead against” the nosebands at World Horse Welfare’s annual conference (10 November, 2015).

Crank nosebands feature a levered fastening where the leather passes back on itself through two rings, enabling the noseband to be fastened more tightly than with a plain cavesson.

“I completely disagree with them,” David told H&H following the conference.

“I don’t believe you need to crank a horse’s jaw up. If you need to, there’s something wrong with the acceptance of the contact.

“It doesn’t solve the problem, it hides it away and the horse becomes quietly resentful.”

David believes an overly tight crank noseband gives a “superficial” self-carriage.

“If you shut the horse’s mouth up it will be very light in the hand but it’s a false lightness,” he said.

“Certainly in my riding career I’ve never found it necessary.”

Dressage trainer and rider Heather Moffett echoed Paul’s concerns.

“A dressage horse needs to be able to relax its jaw,” she said.

“The reason for having the crank is so you can pull the noseband really tight — it’s inhumane.

“I think there needs to be something done to monitor the tightness of nosebands.

“I would like to see the crank noseband banned, or, more realistically, the two-finger rule observed [that two fingers can fit under the fastened noseband for optimal comfort].”

Even pressure

However, international dressage rider Rebecca Hughes spoke in favour of the crank noseband.

“I like them to create an even pressure around the noseband,” she told H&H.

“I believe some people do use them too tightly. It should be even and comfortable for the horse.

“I also think they can be too loose and people can fit their hand through. They should be snug but not extremely tight.”

An FEI spokesman said its stewards adhere to the FEI stewarding manual and code of conduct for the welfare of the horse in respect of any action or device that could cause harm or discomfort to a horse.

“The FEI rules very clearly state that a noseband should never be so tightly fitted as to harm a horse,” he said.

“Any bit or other item of saddlery likely to wound a horse is forbidden, and the FEI stewards, who have in-depth knowledge of the sport, check the saddlery of each horse to ensure that this rule is adhered to. Stewards are briefed to check nosebands as well as bits during this process.”

He added that nosebands are regularly discussed by the FEI dressage committee.

“We are currently not planning to ban specific nosebands, but we do constantly listen to our equestrian community via our national federations, our athlete representatives on our discipline committees, riders’ and trainers’ clubs and at key events such as our annual FEI Sports Forum [in April],” he said.

Ref: Horse & Hound; 21 January 2016