In their press release, they acknowledge the research that has found restrictive nosebands are associated with an activation of the physiological stress response, the presence of mouth lesions, restriction of blood flow, behaviour problems and even microfractures and bone deformations of the equine nasal bone.
These findings are the reason why the Chilean Association of Equine Veterinary Medicine (ACHVE), together with the Veterinary College of Chile (COLMEVET), have decided to support the noseband use recommendations by the International Society of Equitation Science (ISES). This move makes Chile the first national veterinary association and national equine veterinary association to formally support the responsible use of nosebands.
“It is important to remember that horses are not adapted to carry a bridle, in that anatomically, they don’t have space for the bit inside the mouth. This means that, through tongue and mouth movements, the horse must constantly accommodate the bit, a situation that is most evident when using a double bridle. Tightening the noseband in an exaggerated way prevents the horse from performing these movements, causing stress and injuries as a result of constant pressure, ” says Tamara Tadich, a member of ACHVE.
María Paz Zuñiga, President of ACHVE, said: “Our Association proudly supports this initiative, which aims to promote good practices in support of improved animal welfare. Veterinarians must be properly informed, and in addition, must correctly transmit this information to owners and trainers.”
For his part, Felipe Bravo Peña, National President of COLMEVET, said: “We are very happy that as a nation, Chile can take the initiative and support protocols that promote animal welfare in all areas that include the participation of animals.”
Bravo Peña added; “This is a first step, next we will undertake the necessary steps to turn this recommendation into formal regulation.”
Chilean veterinarians acknowledge that in shows and competitions it is common for some riders to tighten the noseband excessively, feeling this gives them greater control over the horse. However, they agree that ethical equitation is founded on relaxation, the good use of tack and the non-restriction of the animal’s natural behaviours.
In the words of Dr Tadich, “Veterinarians have a responsibility to be well-informed about the correct use of the various tack that is used in equestrian activities, to check that it is adjusted correctly and to be able to recognise signs of stress and pain in horses, in order to achieve an ethical and healthy equitation practice.”
The ISES recommends that:
- All equestrian sports should require that noseband adjustment be checked at the nasal bones.
- For fairness and objectivity a standardised gauge should be used to measure a minimum spacing is achieved under the noseband at the nasal bones.
- The gauge should slide without force and should be clearly marked to show the point where it should stop, in accordance with industry standards, this should correspond to the average dimensions of two adult fingers. Riders should be advised and encouraged to use this same measure during training.
To download the infographic issued by ACHVE and COLMEVET to inform their members, click on the link below.