Serious concerns have been raised about riding equipment to be used at this year's Rio Olympics, with scientists claiming nosebands and double bridles could cause unnecessary pain and suffering to horses during equestrian events.
A study from the University of Sydney's Faculty of Veterinary Science found the use of restrictive nosebands — most common in dressage — can bind together the jaws of a horse, preventing yawning, tongue movement and potentially swallowing.
"This study is the first to show that a very common practice and a very common piece of gear is eliciting a stress response in horses," said veterinarian and senior author on the study, Professor Paul McGreevy.
It's disturbingly clear from this study that the use of restrictive nosebands is causing horses significant pain, suffering and distress during training and competition.
RSPCA chief scientist Bidda Jones
"It's worth noting that this response emerged in horses without riders and without rein tension, so it's possibly just the tip of an iceberg."