Poll: Purpose of the flash

I was a tack-cleaning fly on the wall the other day while two capable and experienced friends were discussing flash nosebands. They disagreed on the purpose of the flash. One said it was to keep the horse from opening its mouth, while the other said no, it’s to help keep the bit stable in the horse’s mouth.

I’m interested to know what the COTH hive mind thinks, so I created this poll.

What, in your opinion, is the purpose of the flash noseband? If you answer “Something else,” please tell me what that something else is. Thanks!

  • Keep horse from opening its mouth
  • Keep the bit stable in the mouth
  • Both
  • Something else

0 voters

I used to ride with a flash, but I’ve pulled it with my last two horses.

I want to know how the horse accepts the bit and go from there. I use that acceptance as a gauge to my riding and the horse’s personality. I don’t want the bit to be stable in the mouth, I want to work it as it needs to be worked to get the horse to understand the concepts of bit aids. The goal is higher levels where there is no flash.

My opinion.


This probably isn’t a popular thing to say, but I don’t care for the flash. I figure if a horse needs to open its mouth there is a reason and he/she should be allowed to do so.


I view a horse opening his mouth as a form of feedback that I need to address. Therefore, I am not a fan of the flash noseband but for the first time ever, my current horse goes in one at the moment. He is green and can be a bit tricky in the contact. The flash is just tight enough to encourage (but not force) him to keep his mouth shut while I work on fixing the contact issues that cause him to want to open his mouth. Once he’s a bit more stable in the contact, the flash will be removed.

If I feel a horse would benefit from the bit being more stable, I switch to a bit with cheekpieces that tend to give a more stable feel to the horse (eg. a baucher) as I don’t think the flash noseband is the best choice for stability.


If the horse can’t open its mouth then the flash is too tight.




I’ve never understood the benefit of a flash (to the horse) so I don’t use one.


If you need the bit to be more stable in the horse’s mouth (and the issue isn’t your own hands), you can try a dropped noseband, or you can try a fixed ring bit. There is no need to have a strap around the front of the mouth and one around the jaw. Also the cavesson itself should not be so tight that the horse can’t open its mouth. I agree with whomever said that removing the ability for the horse to speak to you (about the comfort of the bit, your hands, it’s mouth, etc.) just leads to other problems.


My current horse often goes in a flash. It started when I first got him as a very green 6 yo with a very busy mouth. I went though an assortment of bits. It wasnt that he was “evading” so much as he was overly active and 'playing" with the bit to the point of distraction (and a solid mouth bit was hated )

Eventually I found that a snug but not tight noseband combined with a flash just snug enough to stay on helped him relax and accept the bit. Now I sometimes use the flash (now part of an anatomic noseband) and sometimes dont (I go minimal tack and buckles in the winter!) He certainly can still open his mouth - and does to get his sugar when he does something well - and I can see and feel if he is unhappy in his mouth. YMMV

If I ever get to show him I would use the flash for the stability in a stressful situation and also admittedly, to present a better picture to the judge (holes in the training would be addressed at home!)

I only worry about flash (or figure 8s, etc) when they are adjusted too tight.


I am a fox hunter. I use a D ring snaffle and a flat loosely buckled nose band. Once my DD cranked down the nose band to really tight on my favorite hunter. He waited until she was mounted, then gave a little buck and popped her off. She loosened the nose band and had a good hunt with no further problems. He is a horse of strong opinion. But in fairness he can be ridden bridleless.


I don’t think they’re the epitome of evil, but when I bought my current horse and bought him a new bridle, the first thing I did was remove the flash. He’s never worn one, and as long as I own him, he never will. If he’s trying to open his mouth or gets too busy in the bridle, then I want to know about it so I can address it and fix it.


Its not unpopular but jsut uneducated.

Some horses prefer a flash because of how it helps stabilize the bit. Not all flashes are worn to keep the mouth shut. One of my guys was so much happier with the flash, and it was never tight.


I think because I’ve seen so many used too tight and nose bands too, it’s made me form an unfavorable opinion. That being said, I do understand your point. So sorry I’m uneducated.


All good, wasn’t meant as an insult or anything :slight_smile:

1 Like

There no problem with nosebands or flashes. The problem is with people who overtighten them.


Exactly. And there are way too many who do.


I have a horse that is very smart and thinks contact is very dumb. Light contact from forgiving hands would cause head flipping, rearing, and the tongue over the bit. From incredibly talented riders. Horse was 100% sound in every single way and every single avenue was pursued first but it just really felt strongly about its role in life and could really bully a rider.

A flash, steady hands, and ignoring the drama llama really helped in the training and acceptance…


In his book, “The Complete Training of Horse and Rider” Alois Podjhasky said that sometimes a drop nose band (or flash, I suppose) can be used to “keep the horse from crossing his jaws” which I took to mean evade contact. So I came to understand that it is something you use with a young horse that might initially have a hard time with contact. However the flash has become a sort of fashion statement with many using it whether their horse needs it or not,
I don’t use flashes because my horses have never needed one.
i also have never really understood the whole “keeps the bit more stable in the mouth” argument. Maybe I’m missing something here but the bit is held in place by the bridle’s cheek plieces, crown piece and the cavesson and I’m not sure what more can be done to “stabilize” the bit.
The bit will be “stable” with a properly fitting and adjusted bridle, educated hands - and a horse that has learned to accept the bit and contact.


All the things that people claim as benefits of a flash can be attained (better in most cases) by a dropped noseband.

The ONLY time (IMHO) to use a flash is when you need the effect of a dropped noseband, but also need a regular caveson to attach a standing martingale to. But I rarely see it used that way.


a flash noseband is not something i would consider trying if my horse was evading. I want a conversation with my horse and i want submission to be an agreement between us and i want that to come in ways that don’t involve constraint.