Tuesday, May 28, 2013

The Drop Noseband: A Review


Does this bridle make my nose look fat?
My new noseband came in on Friday (full disclosure, yes, I left the office early). The piece is made by RedBarn, and is really nice quality. The padding on the noseband section is really substantial and well-cushioned. The leather is nice, and it's finished well. I really can't complain about any part of it!

I ran out to the barn on Saturday morning to try it on Pig. I was slightly worried about fit. I know these types of nosebands can be difficult to fit properly, and I was second guessing not buying the adjustable NunnFiner one from Bit of Britain. Luckily, this one fits Pig really well. The nose section isn't too long and the rings don't interfere with the bit. It was also easy as pie to adjust to the end of his nasal bone, in fact I think I might even raise it a hole next time. (Word of advice! Always adjust a drop noseband so that the nose section is resting on the horse's nasal bone, not the cartilage that falls below it. Otherwise, you can easily cut off their breathing and cause big problems! Also, make sure there's at least 2 fingers of clearance space between the sides of  the nose piece— where the upper part of the nostrils are. This is especially important if you own a thoroughbred or Arabian, as their nasal passages tend to be much larger than other breeds. You want to leave plenty of room for breathing!). As for look, I love the look of a big nose on a horse, and I think this noseband makes Pig's slight Roman nose very handsome. He totally pulls it off.

After seeing how the noseband adjusted and really worked with the bit, I will probably never go back to using a flash. This is so much more effective without being restrictive. Like I mentioned in my last post, I hate how tight flash nosebands have to be, and how they pull in weird ways. The drop is so simple, but doesn't pull strangely, and is only in effect when the horse tries to open its mouth. Then, it gives a very clear pressure on the nose, encouraging the horse to take the contact and lower its head. So much clearer than the upper pressure given off by the flash.
A close up!
Guinness seems to really like it. It actually keeps his mouth quieter than anything else I've ever tried, and the extra bit support allowed me to make mistakes without a huge blow up. If that doesn't tell me he's more comfortable, I don't know what does!
**  Just to clarify, this noseband doesn't get rid of Pig's reactions to irregularities in contact, but it allows him to feel more comfortable within the contact. Meaning, if I make a mistake his head might pop up, or he might hollow out on one side. That lets me know I need to fix something, and I can work on it. Before, any irregularity in contact was cause for a very hollowed out back and a head thrown way up in the air. Getting back from that was pretty much impossible, and was making it very hard for me to improve. Now, I feel like I can get better and work on the subtlety my horse demands.

My two rides in this noseband were very, very good. On Saturday, Guinness was a little nervous. A bit of a storm was blowing in and the horses on the farm were all restless, running like idiots in the pasture. He wasn't terribly focused on me, and typically this would spell a disaster of contact. I felt like this was a good test of the noseband's ability to mitigate my mistakes, and it really was. We did have a bit of an argument over contact in a few spots, but I channeled Nancy's words to keep my shoulders back and down and to post my body up through my shoulders. That kept me balanced and didn't let me throw away my hands. When Guinness would raise his head to avoid the bit, I remembered George Morris' words of wisdom. "When the horse puts his head up, go against instinct to lower the hands to force his head down. Instead raise the hand and keep the contact steady." (Quote heavily paraphrased!) This worked remarkably well on Pig. He would raise his head, I would raise my hands (keeping my shoulders back, and my legs ON), and he would take the contact, lower his head and raise the base of his neck. It was amazing.

Sunday we had a lovely ride. Guinness was completely relaxed, and we ended up getting some of the best quality work we've had in months. I got off with a smile on my face. What else could you want?

What do you guys think? Anyone else give a drop a try?

2 comments:

  1. I haven't tried a drop before, but have a Red Barn bridle and loooooove the quality. I think you'll be happy with it :)

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    1. Glad to hear it! I think I'm going to end up with a better quality bridle by buying the parts individually!

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