Scientists have raised serious concerns regarding stressful Olympic riding equipment . Researchers have discovered evidence showing that nosebands and double bridles are uncomfortable and painful with the equipment causing suffering and distress to horses that participate in equestrian events.
Professor Paul McGreevy, a renowned veterinarian confirmed the results of the study by saying that the equipment produced a stress response in the horses. The University of Sydney conducted research through the Faculty of Veterinary Science to look into the effects of the nosebands and double bridles that included:
- Prevent yawning
- Hinder tongue movement
- Difficulty in swallowing
- Binding of jaws
The Origin of Nosebands
The noseband is among one of the first tools created by humans for domestication of horses. It was initially made using leather or a special type of rope. Other cultures switched to using a halter which was worn under the bridle to allow the rider to quickly remove the halter from the mouth of the horse.
People from ancient Persia, introduced the use of nosebands to act as tools for training horses. Some of the uses of nosebands include the following:
- To keep the mouth of the horse closed and also preventing it from avoiding the bit or putting its tongue above the bit.
- To provide a balance and correct appearance at shows; when the noseband is raised, the effect is that it can make a horses face appear more proportional.
- It is used to help halt the horse from pulling; a well fitted nose band is used in place of a strong bit to allow riders gain more control over the horse.
- The tool is used as an attachment for other types of equipment such as the shadow roll.
Effects of Nosebands
Recent tests done on horses suggest that tight nosebands are very dangerous because they cause horses to have a stress response. These horses are sensitized to bit equipment pressure which results in reduced blood flow.
Nosebands fitted tightly usually hide unwanted behavior in these animals. The masking in behavior can indicate deficiencies in training or pain. If the nosebands are loosened, then the horses might reveal violent behaviors that could result in injuries to the riders.
The physiological stress response was noted in horses that had no riders and lacked rein tension. This means that horses that have riders experience high levels of stress resulting to poor health and inactivity.
The Crank Noseband
One particular type of stressful Olympic riding equipment is the crank noseband. This tool is made of leather strap which is placed around the jaw of the horse. The crank noseband is usually tightened through a system of pulleys.
When the noseband is tight, then the contact between the horse’s mouth and the bridle is increased. This effect makes the rider have more control of the horse. The indication of pain and suffering is the result of their stress response. It is measured by testing the eye temperature and the heart rates of horses subjected to the use of nosebands.
There are some cases where the heart rates rose from 34bpm to 100bpm when horses used stressful Olympic riding equipment.