Many horse riders heaved a sigh of relief when in early 2018, British Dressage revealed it was now ‘dressage legal’, e.g. within the organisation’s tack guidelines, to compete in affiliated dressage contests in a grackle noseband; the new rules allow all crossed and figure-eight nosebands.
But what is a grackle noseband? The Grackle can be considered to be a variation on the much-loved flash noseband, applying pressure evenly and over a large area of the horse’s face. The design aims to help prevent evasion if the horse opens its mouth and crosses its jaw, and the grackle noseband gives more space around the horse or pony’s nostrils, helping to make breathing easier. It is very common to buy a whole bridle described as a grackle bridle, rather than just buying a standard ‘horse bridle’ and adding your own grackle noseband, which may not fit or suit the bridle.
The Grackle bridle is proving very popular
with many different horse riders, after some
time being less popular - it is widely used by
showjumpers and event riders, and now
dressage riders are also becoming fans of
this type of horse bridle.
If you’re wondering how to fit a grackle
bridle, don’t panic, they aren’t complicated,
although the right fit is important.
The grackle has an upper strap connected to
a ring on either side, and the ring should be
fitted just above the projecting cheekbone.
The lower strap should sit in the horse or
pony’s chin groove, so the lower strap
fastens under the bit. You should get a
finger’s width under the straps all round.
If you’re wondering whether to choose a flash noseband or a grackle, the flash is mainly to prevent horse or pony from opening its mouth, so for an equine that crosses its jaw, the grackle may be preferable.
Also, some horses find the flash strap interferes with the sensitive part of their nostrils, due to the angle, although this is usually a fitting issue. As the ‘cross’ point on the grackle is higher, the angle of the lower strap is steeper, so some sensitive horses and ponies find a grackle more comfortable than a flash.
If you’re buying a grackle bridle, choose one with a padded cross over point for comfort. Equi Craft Ltd’s grackle bridle has a sheepskin padded section at the nose, and a fixed, padded headpiece with a stitched browband and reins.