Whilst discussing the difficulty of shoeing some horses, a friend told me about the Noavel headstall.
Her horse is notoriously difficult to shoe and needs sedating by the vet. Obviously this is an expensive and time consuming procedure. This woman has owned the horse for over a year and whilst she has improved in other areas of her training, shoeing still remains an issue.
Now her farriers assistant has spent a lot of time in Australia and when he came back he suggested using the Rick Wheat Noavel headpiece. It worked a treat, and the mare stood perfectly still to be shod, but was still very aware of the comings and goings of the yard. The farrier said that this headpiece only needed to be used once before the horse learnt to behave and do as asked of him.
Naturally I was interested in this potentially useful piece of equipment, and after looking online realised it has some mixed reviews.
First of all, the leather bridle come headcollar is designed to fit comfortably over the horse’s ears and poll. It is bitless, but has a metal noseband, or bosal. It claims to be more humane than many other pieces of headgear as it does not restrict airflow or put something in the horses mouth. However, it does have a pressure point which works on a nerve on the left side of the horses head, which runs right up the cheek and to the poll. To me, there is a serious risk of causing permanent nerve damage if used incorrectly.
The Noavel headpiece is advertised as being a training aid for the many behavioural problems:
hard to catch
run away horses
walking off while mounting
controlling miniature horses
halter breaking colts
There are many people who like this and find it can help unruly horses, but I think it should be a “use once and never again” tool when you reach crisis point in your training, such as my friend and her tricky mare. In the wrong hands the steel bosal is extremely harsh, and can bruise, cut and damage a horse’s face severely, which surely must cause future problems with head shyness?
One person on a forum put it quite succinctly;
It’s meant to drag the horse into submission instead of making a willing partner.
Don’t just go by what I say, there are plenty of sites with a lot of information and conflicting opinions to peruse.