Why do some race horses occasional wear blinders ? Good question, but first a brief, rudimentary explanation of blinders;
Blinders/blinkers are small squares of firm leather or canvas that attach to the bridle at the side of a horse’s head. In the modern era of racing, blinders are more of a hood with half cups, as the photo indicates.
It’s been said that blinders were invented when a preacher had a wager with one of his friends. The preacher bet that his horse could walk up the stairs in his home, which the horse did with no problem at all. But, when he tried to coax the horse down again, it wouldn’t budge! So, the preacher covered the horses head and lead him down. He realized that covering all or part of the horse’s vision encouraged the horse to take chances it would not normally take.
Horses’ eyes are at the side of their heads, which indicates that they were once hunted in nature — similar to rabbits, for example — as opposed to the hunters such as cats. So, horses have peripheral vision, which means they can end up running off course unless they are made to remain focused.
When a thoroughbred race horse dons blinkers it generally means the animal lacks focus. Blinders help keep the horse’s eyes focused on what is ahead, rather than what is at its side or behind.
A jockey has a very small amount of control over his/her mount. If a horse decides to take a different route, it will simply take the jockey with it, which can pose numerous problems. Troublesome race horses are fitted with blinders for their own safety as well as the other horses and jockey’s.
We at the Daily Racing Blog hope you found this interesting and informative.