If you have ever found yourself wondering, “What is the purpose of horse blinkers?” you are definitely not alone. Some people think that blinkers help to protect the horse’s eyes while the animal is racing; others seem to believe that blinkers are there simply to help the horse look a bit more stylish. The truth is, horse blinkers serve a very important purpose. In them, the horse cannot see behind himself, nor can he see what is happening to either side. He can only see what is happening directly in front of him.Click here to find more about Richard Schibell.
In order to understand why a racehorse sometimes needs to see what is happening in front of him, rather than seeing what is happening all around him, it’s worth understanding how the horse sees. Horses are prey animals, and their eyes were developed to give them a good view of potential predators approaching. While some thoroughbred race horses are not disturbed by the horses running to the rear and sides of them, many perform better when wearing visual racing aids such as blinkers, winkers, or shadow rolls.
Normally, horse racing blinkers are made of either leather or specialised plastic. Some models are attached to the horse’s bridle, and others are attached to a separate hood. The blinkers you see some race horses wearing were originally utilised in the training of work horses and carriage horses; respectively, they allowed the work horse to pull a plough in a straight line, and they allowed the carriage horse to move through the streets without becoming spooked by every little movement to the rear or to the side. When a race horse wears blinkers, he can’t see the fluttering motions of the people in the crowd, and he can’t see all the other things that tend to frighten or distract horses when they are running on a racecourse.
With some horses, blinkers help them to focus on the race, run faster, and access all the potential that lies within. With other horses, blinkers do nothing for racecourse performance. An experienced horse trainer can determine whether blinkers will help a horse to concentrate. And, despite what bookies might tell punters, only trainers and jockeys really know what will happen when a racehorse is fitted with blinkers on raceday.If you think your thoroughbred race horse may benefit from blinkers, be sure to select a knowledgeable trainer who not only knows how to apply the blinkers properly, but who can determine whether they really will help your equine athlete perform better. An important training aid, and stylish looking as well, blinkers can sometimes help horses to win.Michael Costa is the head horse trainer at New Breed Racing Sydney horse racing stable standing at the threshold of the future of thoroughbred training. New Breed Racing is ushering into a ‘New Era’ in Australian horse racing with its innovative training methods, its dedication to horse welfare and its fresh and dynamic emphasis on the client experience.