Just as humans wear eye-wear, so do horses!
You may have seen it in movie scenes where horses with carriage had blinders. Are you curious why horses’ eyes are covered?
Horses wear blinders to enhance concentration keeping them focused on the task ahead. Wearing blinders reduce visual distractions from behind the horse and the sides. Having your horse wear one can make a big difference in its performance. Especially when racing and driving horses.
Aside from that, there are a lot of different situations where horses can use blinders. We will look a little deeper into all the different points of using blinders. We will also discuss other horse eye-wear and their purpose.
Why Are Blinders Effective?
Horses can see all around them. They can basically see what’s happening behind them. They are designed much like other prey animals. Their eyes are on the side of the head.
They make sure there is no danger coming at them. That is why they always look and listen to the world around them. The peripheral awareness is part of their defense mechanism.
So, putting a blinder on their eyes helps the horse remain calm. They will be more focused when you remove a part of their awareness of the surroundings.
Oftentimes, blinders are worn by racehorses. When the horse has a job to do and it has to be done around a lot of distractions are the critical times when this is needed. Or during a race and training. They prevent the horse from seeing the rear and the sides. Allowing them to focus on their work and not get distracted or spooked from things around.
Racehorses wear blinders so they can focus on racing and what their jockey is telling them.
Limiting the Field of View
Why do riders limit his horse’s wide field of vision? Here are the several reasons:
- Horses with carriage in a city may get distracted by all the sights and movements around him. We need to remove a lot of these distractions or obstacles. Focus his sight-line forward by putting a blinder.
- Some racehorses have an excitable temperament. A horse may become distracted if he sees his competitors come up beside him. He may also find the commotion of the crowd too overwhelming.
- Some inexperienced riders bring their horses too close. This is when a seasoned lesson horse may get irritated. Sometimes, limiting his field of view can make him more relaxed. And focused on his rider and task.
How Do Blinders Work?
Blinders are generally made of leather flaps or plastic that cups over the back of the eyes. You can attach them to the bridle. This is usually the case with leather blinders.
It can also be an entire separate hood that you place under the bridle.
Why Do Horses Wear Masks?
It is usually during summertime that you will see horses wearing masks in a pasture. And you may wonder, why do they wear fly mask?
Fly-masks protect horses’ face, ears, and eyes from flies. They are often worn during spring and summer when flies are the worst. It serves as a barrier between your horse and the flies to keep them from getting irritating bites.
Also, some horse fly-masks provide UV protection from the sun. If your horse is more prone to sunburn and skin cancer, a fly-mask with UV protection is beneficial. There are times that our horses get a cut on their faces. It is best to put a fly-mask on them after treating the cut before they go outside. Because flies get attracted to cuts and wounds. It is important to keep any injury covered up to prevent your horse from getting bothered by flies. Or getting an infection.
Fly-masks are also great for protecting your horse from gnats, mosquitoes and ticks. Especially when your horse will be in the pasture with long grasses.
People put a fly-mask on their horse also when they are being ridden or driven outside. It can also be used if your horse is recovering from a face injury. It will protect the injury from further damage and help it heal.
Make sure you get the proper size of fly-mask for your horse. Sizes range from mini to draft. So, you can get the right size for your horse. Right sizes don’t accidentally take off while rubbing or get caught on something.
Fly-masks may look like a blindfold, but it’s not. They are just fashionable hoods that cover a horse’s face with a fine mesh. Your horse can still see through it.
But there are specific circumstances in which a horse must be completely blindfolded. Here are the situations where you need to put a blindfold on your horse:
- While trailing or loading into a starting gate. Horses have excellent night vision. But they struggle to transition from areas with bright lights to areas with low lights. Dark trailers or enclosed gates can be frightening for them. Trainers use a blindfold to practice loading and unloading from these stressful objects. But bonds of trust must be established first.
- During Emergencies. In cases where there is a fire in the barn, blindfold your horse. They may be afraid to leave the barn if their eyes are not covered. Blindfolds calm a nervous horse. Especially if he’s around with someone that he trusts.
- Medical Needs. If your horse is enduring a surgery or other medical procedures, you may put a blindfold on him. Seeing all the strange-looking medical equipment may confuse him. It will be easier for your horse to handle the situation if he doesn’t see them.
In general, your horse can still see even with his vision is being obscured. True blindfolds are a rare sight. You may be looking for a fly mask or blinkers instead. If you are considering to use blinders or blinkers on your horse, keep in mind that every horse is an individual. Some may enjoy from having their vision limited. But others may react poorly.
Use care and proper training when using a blinker hood on your horse. And always consult a professional if you are unsure how to proceed.
I’m Allison, born and raised in San Diego California, the earliest memory I have with horses was at my grandfather’s farm. I used to sit at the stable as a kid and hang out with my Papa while he was training the horses. When I was invited to watch a horse riding competition, I got so fascinated with riding!