Caveson legality question

I have a few questions after learning about a “technique” used cross-country…I am assuming that there is no rule regarding Caveson tightness for cross country, correct? Is there a Caveson/equipment check directly after cross country? I asked this question because I was recently told about the use of a small pebble under the cross of the figure 8 Caveson. This was called “the magic pebble”. Assuming that there is no equipment check before or after specific to caveson tension I can see how this would go undetected. And once the Caveson was loose and the pebble would just fall out. I was rather stunned about this “technique”, And it makes me wonder how common it might be. This was at a recognized event.
I understand that cross country requires different equipment, a different degree of control, and this keeps horse and rider safe. I don’t know why this keeps bothering me… Maybe because it is so easy to hide? And obviously painful.
Thoughts from someone more involved in the sport than I am?

What is the purpose of causing the horse pain? The reins are not attached to the noseband so the pebble does not amplify the aids in the same way as for instance using a more painful twisted wire bit would cause more pain on a halt cue. Putting a pebble under the nose band would cause a steady pain like putting a pebble under the girth.

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That is certainly not legal, but I am not sure how it would ever be caught as there is not a formal turndown after XC the way there is in dressage. This is similar to studded nosebands, which do exist and are also illegal in USEF eventing. I imagine this pebble is to address the same issue studded nosebands do.


Reminds me of that time I went to a big jumper show, back when the American Invitational was held at the stadium in Tampa, and wandered through the tack stores. When I put my hand under the noseband of a bridle to lift it up to see the stitching… I felt the very pointy bits underneath, and promptly dropped it. Those were built into the bridle!

So… sure. It happens. When there is any kind of competition, people exhibit behavior all along a spectrum. You watch, you learn, and you decide who you want to be associated with. Sometimes that means avoiding certain barns. Sometimes that means avoiding an entire sport or discipline.


Figure eights apply a lot more pressure once the horse resists the bit. That’s why they’re so common in jumping. The reins wouldn’t need to be involved for the pebble to come into play hypothetically – just the horse trying to open its mouth or gape is all that would be needed for the bite of the stone to be felt.

I’ve never heard of this but I have been out of the competitive game as a groom for over a decade. I am sure there are tons of things like this around, and feel just awful for horses in the hands of these kind of connections.

It makes me think of a once-common practice (or was, back when I was still in H/J) of horses being schooled in studded nosebands with a criminally short standing martingale attached. The nosebands were swapped out for show legal nosebands at shows but put back on the horse once they got home. There’s all sorts of shortcuts in every discipline to achieve the results desired, and it’s sad the horses have to suffer.


That’s a tack noseband. I actually had a dressage judge recommend that I use one on my headshaker. He was already hyper sensitive about his face so I’m sure it would have been epic.


Thanks for answering my question about the purpose!


It would make attempting to open the mouth painful to the horse. Similar to the studded nose bands in the hunter jumper world.

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For sure. It’s gross and people who resort to these kinds of methods need to do some serious introspection.


That’s interesting. Being a dressage person, I just assumed that there was tack inspection after all three phases. Not just the dressage phase. That is unfortunate.

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I really can not see any purpose to this? Causing pain while galloping at huge fences is pretty dumb imo lol

I would report this person. Did you actually see this happen? Sounds like an urband eventing legend lol

EV115.2.b.1 (which is specific to dressage) says “Cavesson noseband may never be so tightly fastened as to harm the horse”
The rules do not say anything abut permitted cavessons or nosebands in Cross country.

EV115.4.a says “A steward should be appointed to check the saddlery of each horse before it enters the arena or starts a Test.”, but there is rarely a specific check except for the dressage test.