Hill, E., McGreevy, P.D., White, P., Caspar, G., McLean, A.N., 2015. The distribution of apparatus in popular equestrian disciplines. Journal of Veterinary Behavior, 10. 147-152.
The apparatus that riders use to restrain or communicate with horses have progressed over time. With the increased awareness of animal welfare, the use of some of these devices is now questioned more deeply. Many equestrian disciplines have rules about apparatus to which competitors must adhere. In this study we aimed to identify the routine use of various items of apparatus in particular disciplines. Using an online questionnaire, we surveyed the use of common bitted and bitless bridles, nosebands, whips, and spurs in relation to each of the 1,101 respondents’ preferred disciplines. We also explored the use of nosebands, whips, and spurs in relation to preferred bridle type. We found that dressage riders were more likely to use a noseband and a whip but, possibly as a reflection of the rules, were unlikely to use a bitless bridle. Western performance riders were most likely to use a curb bit and spurs but do not often use nosebands or whips. These results provide no indication of the techniques associated with each piece of gear, the way in which they are used, or any welfare problems associated with them. Nevertheless, the results inform the growing debate about the mandatory use of apparatus, especially severe bits, in certain sports.