Prejudices about the double nose piece

7 Mar, 2022
Written byG_fournier

The double nose piece is surely the most divisive piece of tack. There are countless prejudices about it heard in the stable corridors. Fortunately, many, if not all, of these prejudices are unfounded. Let’s untangle the truth from the falsehood.


  1. The double nose piece prevents my horse from breathing. True or false? 
  2. Is the noseband only used to close my horse’s mouth?
  3. Misconception: A double nose piece constrains my horse

The double nose piece prevents my horse from breathing. True or false? 

This is one of the most common misconceptions on the subject: the double nose piece would prevent horses from breathing. Stepping back, the idea that harness makers could have invented a system that asphyxiates horses leaves me speechless.

The double or cross nose piece does not obstruct your horse’s airway. However, it is necessary to position it well.

The right positioning of the nose piece

Correctly positioned on the horse’s head, the cross nose piece should rest on the muzzle. 

The muzzle is a bone between the forehead and the nostrils of our horses. Since it is a bone, it is directly under the skin. Therefore, it is possible to rest the nose piece on it, without any risk of choking the horse. 

However, there is soft cartilage between the end of the muzzle and the nostrils. The nose and mouth area is rather soft. If your double nose piece is incorrectly positioned and squeezes this soft area, your horse will be extremely uncomfortable.

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Generally, the double nose piece is a French nose piece combined with a nose piece that has the same effect as a German nose piece. In this case, the French nose piece must be adjusted perfectly. As a reminder, the French nose piece is placed two fingers under the zygomatic process and is tightened without compressing the ganaches or the trough. 

The search for comfort with the right materials

At Arion, we do our utmost to offer your horses top-of-the-line, comfortable and quality equipment

Our saddles are made to measure or half-measure, by hand, in a French workshop. For us, comfort is not only about saddles. Thus, our other equipments and accessories are made of high-quality leather

The French artisanal manufacture is an additional pledge of quality. 

Regarding our anatomical bridle with double nose piece, we have taken care to use only materials that meet our requirements. Also, we wished to add shock absorbing inserts, for always more comfort.

Is the noseband only for closing my horse’s mouth?

The noseband is a small leather loop that transforms a classic nose piece into a double nose piece. It is attached under the nose piece and behind the horse’s mouth, passing under the bit. The nose band is often wrongly described as a torture tool, used to keep the horse’s mouth closed.

Again, this is a misconception that needs to be addressed. 

How to adjust my double nose piece

The double nose piece or noseband is a piece whose correct adjustment is essential

The noseband must be adjusted, but not tight. It must not be able to come out of the horse’s chin, but you must pass your fingers between it and the skin. Also, it slides, without forcing, but with a little resistance. If properly adjusted, the double nose piece should not prevent your horse from grazing or chewing after the session.

When properly adjusted, the noseband does not “slap the horse’s beak” as is commonly heard.

What is the purpose of the nose band?

The nose band is a tool for experienced riders only. Keep in mind that it is an aid, which can become very counterproductive if not properly adjusted. 

In concrete terms, a noseband is used to keep the bit soft in the horse’s mouth. This means that it will help to give a rider with a certain level of experience a softer hand. By keeping the bit in place in the mouth, the nose band helps to refine the rider’s aids, requiring more softness and precision. In fact, the horse stays focused on the hand action, without running away.

The double nose piece is nowadays a bit too much used, often wrongly. If you are not sure you need it, it is better not to use it.

Misconception: A double noseband constrains my horse

Double, cross, or combination nosebands are still considered as torture tools for our horses. According to this logic, the double noseband would fix the horse in an uncomfortable attitude for him, by constraining him. 

Some horses, depending on their experience or their nature, are more willing to work with a little outside help. Hence, the importance of knowing how to choose the proper bridle for your horse. Furthermore, keep in mind that putting a certain type of harness on a horse is not irreversible and that you can completely alternate

Understanding your horse’s expression

The rumor that the double noseband prevents horses from expressing themselves is unfounded. However, it was true years ago when aesthetics took precedence over need and the settings were not right. 

Today, many top riders ride with this type of harness. However, their horses are doing great things


A noseband, whatever it is, if it is well-adjusted, should not constrain the horse. The horse must be able to express himself freely. In fact, we often hear that combination nosebands prevent horses from opening their mouths. Did you know that opening the mouth is a way to escape from work? Horses that open their mouths wide during work completely escape the action of the bit. The role of the noseband is to channel this attitude.

The effects of the double noseband on attitude

A properly adjusted double noseband encourages the horse to keep its mouth closed. This is an incentive because the noseband should not be so tight that the horse cannot move. 

By maintaining this working attitude, the horse is protecting its mouth. By opening the mouth, the bit acts directly on the corners. If he keeps his mouth closed, he keeps a certain sensitivity of the commissure. This way, he is more attentive to the hand and maintains a good working attitude. When properly adjusted, the double noseband should allow you to work with a horse that is relaxed, chews his bit and becomes light in his movements. 


Nosebands, like snaffles, provide comfort for your horse, as long as they are properly adjusted.

Three questions to put an end to prejudices about the double noseband

Is the double noseband a constraint? 

When properly adjusted, the double noseband is an external aid, just like spurs. It simply supports the rider in finding the correct attitude.

How do I adjust my noseband effectively?

The noseband should not compress the horse’s nose. In addition, it should be able to turn freely and remain flexible.

Does my horse need a double noseband?

If your horse opens his mouth and evades the bit, he may need a double noseband. 

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