Last Updated on February 22, 2022 by Allison Price
As we were strolling through New Orleans’ French Quarter, we saw a mule in blinders. I was intrigued by the blinders and wondered why horses don’t wear them.
Blinders are used to help horses see clearly and keep them focused. Horses can easily be distracted when pulling loads or racing. Horses who pull wagons in cities require blinders to help keep their eyes on the road and prevent distractions.
Many people believe that blinders are decorative items worn by horses to aid them in performing a task. Blinders are actually used to aid horses in their tasks.
Four reasons why horses wear blinders
Blinders are cups made of either plastic or leather. These cups attach to the horse’s bridle, hood, and restrict its vision. Multiple horse disciplines use blinders.
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Blinders protect a horse’s eyesight.
Horses are prey animal who have survived the ages by relying on instincts to fly when they sense danger. Horses believe that their ability to distance themselves from danger is what allows them to avoid harm.
What are horses most afraid of? They can sense danger in almost anything that moves or is unfamiliar to them. The eyes are one of the most powerful tools horses have to detect danger. The eyes of a horse act as a motion detector. They are often the first to alert predators.
Horses have a 350 degree field of vision because their eyes are on the sides of their heads. Horses can see predators from all directions because of their wide viewing angle. However, their peripheral vision is a compromise. Their visual perception is not clear.
Horses run when they detect an unanticipated motion in their peripheral fields. Horses’ primary defense mechanism is running from perceived dangers. This is the main reason why they have survived for thousands upon thousands of years.
Horses are often nervous because they are unable to focus due to their instinctive nature of looking and listening.
Blinders can reduce the horse’s field vision, allow it to relax and pay more attention.
We have scoured the internet for the best blinders. Amazon customers rated these blinders 4.9 stars. This link will take you to Amazon’s customer review page. Here are the reviews of other customers:
To stay focused, racehorses use blinkers.
In horse racing , blinkers and blinders are terms that can be interchangeably used. They are used to aid racehorses in focusing their attention on the race, regardless of their name.
Horses can become distracted while racing and end up looking around, causing them to lose speed. Trainers will often use blinkers to stop horses from getting distracted during races. We currently have a young horse who has never raced without blinkers.
We had to put on blinkers because she turned her head towards us during her morning exercise. She gets anxious when we put blinkers on her and has had poor runs each time. We are going to run her next race without her blinkers.
Different types of horse blinders
The racing blinders are part of horse’s headgear. The nylon cap is fitted over the horse’s head and has plastic eyecups. These cups are available in many sizes and shapes, and can be customized to fit each horse. These are some of the most popular styles:
- Extension Cup and full cup blinder are the most restrictive. They are usually worn on one side. This is for horses who tend to run on the outside edge of tracks. A full cup blinker is used to stop a horse drifting.
- Standard Blinkers: These standard blinkers consist of a 2/3 cup and a hole. This type of blinker reduces vision, but allows horses to see each other through the hole on the side. This is the most popular type of blinder.
- Semi Cup: The semi-cup is slightly less restrictive than the standard but still as open-minded as the French cup.
- French Cup The French cup blinder, which isn’t a cup, but plastic that extends from the mask, isn’t a cup. French cups are used to prevent the horse from seeing the jockey. French cups are used to stop racehorses from seeing the jockeys whip during races.
- Chater Cups: Chater cups have the smallest of blinkers and barely any cups. Cheaters can block only a very small amount of vision, and may have a more psychological function than a physical one. It is a reminder of the fact that it’s race season.
- No blinders: This mask is used to calm horses or dampen noise. Sometimes, a batman masque is a hood without blinder cups.
- Customized blinders: Every horse is unique and may require a special cup to perform at its best. Trainers may customize blinkers to match the specific needs of horses. To check Amazon’s prices, click this link Blinker Hoods.
European horse racing has traditionally avoided using blinkers. A cheek-piece, which is a special blinker, has become increasingly popular in the past decade. To prevent horses seeing their jockey or rear distractions, trainers attach a sheepskin on the bridle.
Quarter horses are more likely to use blinkers than thoroughbred racehorses in the United States. Horses race with blinkers more often in America than European horses. Some estimates suggest that as many as 90% of quarter horses race using blinders.
Draft horses wear blinders in order to pull straight.
Draft horses were common before the invention of the combustible engine. They were used, among other things, to pull carriages, plow fields and transport goods.
It is common for working horses to be on the edge when pulling a carriage, or any other apparatus. Although they can’t see what’s behind them, they know that there is something following. Horses instinctively recognize that predators attack from behind.
Their cargo is not the only thing that scares them, but it’s also their unintentional movements that cause fear or flight. A disaster would be draft horses speeding down busy streets in a carriage.
Is it any surprise that draft horses feel more at ease in a bridle equipped with blinders? Blinders are a way to keep the horse’s evolutionary instincts in check and confirm the old saying “outof sight, outof mind”.
Blinders were added to horses’ bridles to reduce distractions and allow them focus on the task ahead. The blinkers reduce the chance of horses taking flight and help horses pull straight.
Without blinders, horses will turn their heads when they sense movement. Horses that are constantly looking at each other can swerve from one side to the next.
Blinders can help draft horses pull straighter by blocking a portion their peripheral vision. Blinders can help draft horses have a better relationship with their driver. Horses respond better to verbal as well as physical cues because of their limited field of vision.
Eye covers for draft horses are usually made from leather and attach to a halter. (Click this link to see the Amazon prices for harness blinders.
To reduce stress, horses wear blinders
Many cities offer horse carriage rides today, such as the one shown in New Orleans. Many distractions can cause horses to lose focus or take flight, just like New Orleans. Safety of the horse, its rider, and all those in its path is crucial.
Blinders are not necessary for horses pulling. This is because they try to ignore their nervous system’s warnings that an object might be in their prey zone. Blinders enable horses to relax and ignore their instincts.
Showjumping horses can use their cheekpieces as blinders.
In competitive showjumping, traditional blinders are not allowed. However, sheepskin cheekpieces may be used. International showjumping is governed by the FEI. Their rules state sheepskin covers can be used for show jumping if they do not exceed 3cm from the horses’ faces. These rules are enforced by US Equestrian which is the American body that governs showjumping.
The cheekpieces of sheepskin are sections of sheepskin that are attached to the horse’s halter at its eyes. They serve a similar purpose to the French cup blinder in horseracing by helping horses focus on what’s ahead, without restricting their vision.
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!