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Hi everyone!
I'm new here but not to horses. I have not ridden english much in my adult life (used to show hunter jumpers as a kid) and I have been in training with my new trainer for a little over a month now. I'm currently taking dressage lessons. After this week's lesson, my trainer recommended that we play musical bits with Gus and that I get a flash noseband for him. I have never used a flash, but I've heard that they can cut off airways and cause problems. I've heard that a figure 8 is better, but I've also heard it's harsher and not allowed in dressage.

Now I'm confused as to what to get. Either option will not be super tight, barely snug actually, and I don't have any plans to show. Help?
 

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My personal belief (I'm saying this because I'm not looking to pick a fight and everyone is entitled to their own opinion) is that if a horse *Needs* a special nose-band to close their mouth there is something wrong. The problem could be a painful bit, a sore mouth, teeth needing floating or a bad attitude. My choice is always to fix the problem rather than add a nose-band-aid to fix it. If the horse is resisting the bit by gaping his mouth, he isn't accepting it and isn't interested in hearing your cues, for one of the above reasons.
When I try a new bit I take all nosebands off my bridle for the first few rides (after having practiced with the bit on the ground so I have some idea how the horse feels about it). If you're trying new bits to see what your horse likes, forcing his mouth shut isn't going to show you anything.
If you're horse is gaping and their is NO pain issues and the riders hands are soft - and it truly is the horse just being defiant, then training needs to happen to make the horse more accepting of the bit.

The only horse I've ever known to need a nose band is a mare who's teeth on one side were knocked out by an accident in her life. So when a rein was pulled (even gently) rather than pressure being applied on the bars, the bit would just slide up into the empty lumps where her teeth were. Using a noseband set low stopped the bit from sliding up her cheeks.
 

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A loosely adjusted flash serves to hold a loosering bit steadier in the horse's mouth, where a figure 8 is designed to keep a horse from crossing his jaw. A flash is legal in dressage, a figure 8 is not. Micklems bridles are now legal, I've never ridden in one.

As far as bits, really, the horse should just go in a loosering, double jointed snaffle. And if they are really opposed, then experiment but honestly bitting is not rocket science and the horse just needs to go in whatever you put up there, IMO.

Also disregard the "all tack is evil" people. This is just a product of our poor education system for equestrians and people are just scared of things they don't know about or how to use.
Nosebands are not used to shut a horses mouth...
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Hi. Welcome to the Forum.

You do not say how old Gus is. You approach gaping of the mouth differently in an older horse than a young horse that is just learning proper bit response. And, Yes! You need to have teeth checked and check the fit of a bit, etc.

An older horse that has had its teeth and mouth checked often learns to gape with bit contact even with a very accomplished rider on the reins. It often becomes a bad habit learned when other not-so-accomplished riders rode them. If this is the case, then you have to address the problem a lot differently.

A flash noseband is not a problem if it is set above the nostrils and does not obstruct them. This depends on how 'deep' a horse's mouth is. Our reining/cutting bred stud has a tiny, shallow mouth. Viewed from the side, the corner of his mouth is little more than 2 inches from the end of his lips. Almost any dropped noseband set below his bit will cut off his nostrils. Most TBs have very deep mouths. A dropped noseband or a flash noseband works quite well without obstructing air on most TBs and big horses. They do not have to get the volume of air sucked in that a race horse needs, so most do not need a figure 8. They are only effective if they are tightened down very tight.

Personally, I would rather use a narrow band or one made of thin cord so it has a 'bite' to it and teaches them to keep their mouths shut. Then, I do not fasten it tight. I fasten it where I can get my fingers between the mouth closer and the horse's nose. That way, they can chew and can 'pick up' a bit but cannot open their mouth wide as a sign of resistance.

I think a tight leather noseband, either dropped or regular, only teaches a horse to pry its mouth against it. Then, when taken off, the horse is worse. There is nothing about any tight noseband that teaches a horse to actually keep its mouth closed.
 
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