Friday 20 October - 08h08 | Lulu Kyriacou/Translated Press Release

Danish Forbid the Use of Tight Nosebands

The Danish Equestrian Federation have become the first national federation to ban the use of excessively tight nosebands on competition horses and to introude a set of guide lines and checks which will come into force in January 2018. The move has come about after the results of extensive scientific study on the subject of pain in ridden horses which also included the use of spurs.

 - Danish Forbid the Use of Tight Nosebands

Credit : Lulu Kyriacou

The study took three years of work and was conducted by the Federation's vet Mette Uldahl who is also an officially certifed vet for the Federation of International Equestrian Sport (FEI).  The study and rule change will be welcomed by welfare groups worldwide  as it comes after much debate on the subject and the creation of social media groups dedicated to highlighting the abuse caused by excessively tight nosebands  here

 Based on the results of an extensive equipment survey, which also looked atthe use of whips and spurs,  the Danish Riding Association's Board of Directors has decided to introduce a limit on the tightness of the nasal band applicable in all disciplines. The study shows a clear connection between tight nosebands and the occurrence of oral lesions, and the Federation do not want the use of equipment in the sport to cause lesions in the horse's mouth.

From January 1, 2018, a general rule that there must be at least a certified unit of measurement equivalent to at least 1.5 cm in diameter between the horse's nose band and the horse's nose fabric. The rule will apply in all disciplines. During the rest of 2017, selected TDs will test measurement methods and make samples for measuring the tightness of the nasal bands at the rallies. It happens that we can test and adapt the measurement method, and that both officials and riders / horses through cooperation and dialogue can get used to the procedure. There will not be sanctioned in 2017.

When the rule comes into force, officials will check the tightness of the nose band at the venues if there is a suspicion that it is too tight. The purpose is that through dialogue, counseling and cooperation wit can be ensured that riding on the venues always takes place with the horse-welfare world at the top. If officials find that a nose band is too tight, the rider will be asked to loosen this according to the rules, after which the rider can participate in the competition. If the rider refuses to loosen the noseband or finds repeated overruns, the sanction will be applied.

The Study

In 2014, the Daish Federation launched a comprehensive scientific equipment survey to clarify the equestrian equipments and equipment impact on the horses. The purpose of the equipment survey is to contribute evidence-based knowledge that can form the basis for the development of the regulations and contribute to research. The survey is focused and funded as a scientific project that will be published in a scientific journal. The publication will contain details and statements of the full investigation and are expected to be approved for public use by the end of 2017.

Sensing method
Traditionally, the nose band has been measured with "one" or "two" fingers, and different types of nasal band measurements have also been developed. During the rest of 2017  various methods of determining tightness will be tested so that the introduction of a reproducible unit of measurement according to the metric scale can be made. Therefore, measurement is entered after a specified diameter. It will always be measured in relation to the nasal bone (solid support). There must be room for a measuring unit corresponding to at least 1.5 cm.

The following are excerpts from the study, where over 3000 horses were examined in the dressage, jump, eventing and endurance disciplines. The detailed results will be published first with the official scientific publication.

Bits, nosebands and horse's mouth
In the study, the type of bit and nose band was recorded, the tightness of the nose`band was measured and the horse's mouths were examined  after for sores and blood (mouth lesions). A proportion of the horses were registered with oral lesions, most of them in dressage.

The tightness of the noseband had a very clear connection to the occurrence of oral lesions. The tighter the nasal band was, the more mouth lesions were recorded. Horses that started at higher level of competition had a higher prevalence of oral lesions than lower-level competitions.

That indicates that the regulation of the noseband tightness is an important focus area in the goal of reducing the frequency of oral lesions in competition horses at all levels. The results of the study will at the same time be used to train coaches, riders and judges to assess a naturally active foot on horseback riding horses and horses in training.

In the study, a few horses had wounds or worn hair layers in the flanks caused by the use of spurs. The survey indicated that spurs are a  harder to control riding technicians for riders riding at a low level of competition compared to riders riding at a higher level of competition. For all riders, regardless of level, a relatively longer spur shank  was at significantly greater risk of finding abrasions  and worn hairs than a shorter shank. The occurrence of damage by spurss was relatively low, but  the results and the relationships shown will be used as a tool for future equipment control and training of riders.

Whip and the shoulder and hindquarter of the horse
The study revealed very few recordings of lesions due to use of the whip. The horses were inspected for lesions at the shoulder and hind quarters (swelling and skin lesions).

The incidence of lesions due to use of whip was very low, but we are also aware that individual cases of lesions must be identified and addressed at the events. It is the ambition of the Danish Federation to let this study contribute to scientific evidence based knowledge of the effect of tack and riders equipments on the horses. The study is therefore intented and fund-financed as a scientific study that will be published in a scientific journal. The scientific publication will contain all relevant details and conclusions.
The study is conducted by the Danish Equestrian Federation. Veterinary Consultant, and FEI National head Veterinarian, Mette Uldahl  (DVM, Cert. Equine Diseases) has overall charge of the research project.

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