How to Fit a Cavesson

cavessonCavessons, (also known as mouth shutters or nosebands) are commonly used in both the Western and English worlds. This piece of equipment was developed in ancient times it’s thought, by riders who needed more handling ability over their horses. It is worn under the western bridle and is often incorporated into English bridles.

Cavessons are indeed used to help keep a horse from opening its mouth to evade the pressure of the bit but there are many other things to consider when using a cavesson . When a young horse is learning to respond to the gentle pressure on the bit it’s common for him to brace the muscles in his jaw and open his mouth when he feels this pressure. This bracing goes from the jaw all the way down his neck, spine and legs. With a correctly chosen and fitted cavesson he will feel the pressure from the noseband of the cavesson and relax his jaws and lower his head rather than brace. The strap running under the nose will help support the chin. This has a relaxing effect all the way through his body. The cavesson also helps to prevent him from putting his tongue over the bit or crossing his jaws, both common evasion maneuvers young horses may use regardless of how soft the riders hands are on the reins.

Proper fit is critical for a good response. A cavesson should be placed on the nose about midway between the prominent bones of the cheek and the mouth. This is generally 1-2 inches below the cheek bones. The nose becomes more delicate towards the nostrils, so it’s important to observe where the cavesson is placed and the response of the horse. It should be adjusted so you can run 1 or 2 fingers underneath the cavesson all the way around. The horse must be able to open its mouth slightly to chew in order to relax so must have enough space under the cavesson to move his cheek (masseter) muscles.

Adjustment that’s too tight will prevent the horse from being able to relax his jaw and flex his head and body as mentioned previously. When this happens, the rider will end up pulling harder on the reins to force the horse into proper head carriage and frame. Cavessons adjusted too tightly can also squeeze the inside of the cheek against the teeth.

Individual horses respond differently to the type and adjustment of a cavesson.  A sensitive horse may work better with one made of flat leather straps or soft cord and adjusted loosely. A less sensitive horse may respond better to one made of a harder rope with braided rawhide on the noseband and prefer a snug fit. It’s important to experiment with different adjustment and type to find the ideal fit and response.

The cavesson can remain an important part of your training equipment throughout the entire training process. Dennis Moreland Tack builds a full line of handmade cavessons so you can get the perfect one to give your horses the opportunity to learn and respond at their top potential: .  We’re happy to answer questions. Please call 817-312-5305 or write us at [email protected] .

We’re a full line manufacturer of handmade tack and we’re here to help you!