A cavesson noseband is a single piece of leather that fastens above the bit around the horse’s nose. This noseband should rest one or two adult-sized fingers below the horse’s cheekbones. It goes inside the cheekpiece, next to the horse’s face. It should be snug but never uncomfortably tight. You should be able to fit one or two fingers under the noseband.
A crank style noseband is a broad, flat noseband made of leather or synthetic material with a doubleback rear fastening that allows the noseband to be tightened more than a traditional cavesson noseband. Riders must be very careful when tightening a crank noseband. It is very easy to make them so tight that the horse becomes uncomfortable.
A flash noseband is a cavesson noseband with a flash strap attached; it is used to keep a horse’s mouth closed and to hold the bit in position. The cavesson noseband is adjusted fairly high and snugly. The chin-strap buckles below the bit, in the curb groove. Both should be snug but not tight – you should be able to slip a finger underneath both.
Cavesson nosebands can also be converted to flash nosebands with the use of a flash converter. This butterfly-shaped piece of leather fits around the cavesson and the flash strap is threaded through to create the action of a flash noseband without the need to purchase one.
A drop noseband (also known as a dropped noseband) is used to keep a horse from opening his mouth to evade the bit. The noseband rests on the end of the nose bone just above the soft part of the nose. The chin-strap is buckled below the bit, in the curb groove. The noseband should be snug, but not too tight. You should be able to slip a finger under it and the horse should be able to chew easily.
Figure-Eight or Grakle
A figure-eight noseband (also known as a Grakle or Mexican Grakle) is also used to keep a horse’s mouth closed, but it rests higher on his face and lets his nostrils expand better for fast work. The upper strap goes under the jaw behind the cheekbones, inside the bridle. The lower strap buckles below the bit, in the curb groove. Both straps should be snug but not tight – you should be able to slip a finger underneath both.
A Kineton noseband is a non-traditional noseband that should be used with care. The noseband is made with two metal u-shaped loops that fit behind the bit rings and support the mouthpiece of the bit in the horse’s mouth. The leather strap that crosses the hose’s nose adds pressure to this area when the reins are pulled back. It is recommended that the Kineton noseband only be used with a mullen mouth snaffle as pressure is applied to the horse’s nose before the bit comes into play.
A lever noseband is a non-traditional noseband used on horses who tend to hang on the bit or cross their jaws and pull. This noseband features two metal “levers” that rest against the horse’s face, above the bit. The straps fasten in the chin groove above the bit and the curb groove below the bit. A third strap fits over the horse’s nose and should be adjusted snugly to prevent it from sliding down. This noseband should be used with care, paired with a milder bit such as a loose ring snaffle.
All text taken from the USPC Manuals of Horsemanship, D & C Levels and the Horse Tack Bible by: Carolyn Henderson.