Well darlings, it seems my last post on showjumping bridling struck a nerve with many people. But I think there may be an even bigger controversy brewing among our dressage friends.
After much discussion both on my blog and here, and if my trusty readers can be relied upon, it seems Hickstead’s contraption is not as severe as it might look.
That’s good news. But it would appear that pretty much anything goes as far as bits, bridles and showjumpers are concerned. I know dressage has more bitting rules, but when it comes to a certain type of noseband, the interpretation is apparently more open. I am referring, of course, to the hideous crank noseband. Which, according to FEI rules, does not even exist.
As it so happens, one of my dearest pals and trusted sources is an extremely high ranking official in horse sport.
My friend told me that, while officiating at a super-high-level national event (I shan’t say where or when), she was asked by a dressage rider to do up her noseband just before she entered the arena. “I used every ounce of strength I had and couldn’t for the life of me get that noseband done up to the desired hole. In fact I was two holes short!”, my source told me.
“Good god, if your teeth are already clamped together, how much tighter can you get?”
That is a good question. But even more shocking is the fact that in Europe, some riders are using a ratchet-type device to tighten their nosebands. “Imagine your own jaw and teeth clamped together so hard that your whole head ached!”, my source declared.
Felicity agrees. Isn’t dressage supposed to be all about lightness and grace?
Sigh. In my day a cavesson noseband was a decoration, not a torture device.
I will hazard a guess and say the crank noseband (otherwise known as a Swedish noseband) was invented by some dressage genius (presumably Swedish?) who felt they needed a mouth-closing device when using a double bridle, and, not allowed under ‘the rules’ to use a flash or dropped noseband, came up with this wonderful new tool.
Depending on how you interpret “the rules”, the ‘crank’ is allowed, however: “A cavesson noseband may never be as tightly fixed so as to harm the horse.”
Definition of ‘harm’, anyone?
So given the amount of yap about horse welfare coming from the top of the sport perhaps it is time such things are studied a bit more closely.
This also leaves Felicity wondering, if the supposed higher level riders using double bridles need something to encourage their horses to grit their teeth and clamp their jaws shut, should they be at a higher level in the first place?
It seems a rather cruel and, frankly, crude device.
I await comments from my dear readers on this one.