You and Your Horse

Finding your own way with horses

The Cavesson – Part 2

Posted by in All, Lungeing

The Cavesson – Part 2

In my previous blog I introduced you to the rather heavy sort of cavesson that I use for lungeing myself.

Today I’ll introduce you to some lighter models that I use for various purposes but do not use for lungeing according to the Lungeing Course.

The cavesson without metal parts

There are cavessons that only have a band of leather over the nose, without metal parts.

The three rings are worked into the leather:

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These cavessons are beautifully light and slim and are well suited for use under a bridle. I choose a cavesson like this to do in-hand work, for working on long reins, for working with a double lunge or for riding. It is not suitable for lungeing on a simple lunge line as it is too imprecise in its effect and easily slips sideways.

The French Caveçon

The Caveçon is a French cavesson. Caveçons do not have fixed iron parts but instead have a chain (often a bicycle chain) that is covered with leather.

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The advantage of the French Caveçon is that it is beautifully light and fits the nose well. It is suitable for in-hand work and partly for riding as well, as you can put a bridle over the top of it without overloading the horse’s head with straps and can then ride with four reins.

What you have to watch out for is that it has a much more severe action than a cavesson with a wide and padded noseband. The caveçon should only be used by people who have considerable experience of working with horses.

It is not suitable for doing the work in our Lungeing Course as this focusses on working on lengthwise bend by achieving a correct poll position. Nearly all French Caveçons slip a bit on the nose when pressure is applied. This leads to the horse bending its neck inwards (and doing so even on the lightest of aids as the horse wants to avoid pain) but does not also produce the correct position of the poll (see my earlier comments in the previous blog on the cavesson).

I find that many horse owners see the French Caveçon as “more comfortable” than the wider, heavier sort of cavesson. My belief is that the horses find it to be the other way round. If you want to feel the difference yourself, you can try the following: put the noseband of the French Caveçon over your own shin and press it down firmly. Then pull and rub it a bit this way and that. Then try it with the heavy but well padded sort. To me this made it very clear indeed which model I wanted to put on my horse’s nose. Have a careful look at how the inside of your French Caveçon is made. On my type there were little knobs where the rings were attached. These were really painful against my shin.

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I still use my French Caveçon but only now that I have made it less severe by adding extra padding and as I said, never for lungeing work and only, as I’ve already said, for work for which I do not need to apply a lot of pressure.

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The Serreta

The serreta is the Spanish version of a cavesson. The serreta has a really thin, tight noseband. This noseband is usually neither covered nor padded. The metal part of the serreta must fit exactly to the horse’s nose.

The rings on the noseband are set on small stems. This means that the aid that is given over the lunge line is enhanced by a lever action.

There are also serretas that have a serrated edge on the inside. These cavessons have a lot to answer for in terms of damage to horses’ delicate noses and state of mind, particularly imported Spanish horses, and belong to the realms of instruments of torture. I just do not want to know what “working” with a horse in this way must look like, given the awful trauma that it leaves them with…

I absolutely avoid serretas with serrated inside edges. A serreta without them for me belongs, if at all, in the hands of a very gentle and experienced professional. It is the “bit” of the cavesson. Those who need them to make their horse “listen” to them are in my opinion setting themselves a false goal. Something is probably lacking in their preparatory work or ground training and I would ask myself the question: “Why is my horse rebelling against working with me so strongly?”. I have trained many horses on the lunge and I have never had the feeling that I needed this harsh sort of cavesson. If you work with a serreta you should definitely pad it on the inside. And then make sure that it still fits and is not too tight.

It may well be the case that there are people who work with such a light touch using a serreta that the horse feels no pain, but I personally do not like or use them, but stick to my trusty well padded “whopper” of a cavesson. How to get your horse used to a cavesson like this is what I’ll cover in Part 3.

(Translated by Katy Schütte)

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