What are those things that carriage horses wear next to their eyes? And why do racehorses wear those weird masks? These are both different kinds of blinders, but both serve a similar purpose. Blinders are important tools that some horses need to have to offer peak performance at their job.
What Are Blinders?
Blinders are a piece of horse tack that partially covers a horse’s eye to allow them to focus better on the task at hand. Blinders are most commonly seen on racehorses and carriage horses who use them to prevent distraction and improve focus. Blinders usually come in two varieties: the ones shaped like a cup that attaches to a mask or hood, and the ones that have a flat piece of leather that attaches to a horse’s bridle and slightly covers their eye.
Types Of Blinders
Carriage Horse Blinders
Carriage horse blinders or harness bridle blinders are probably the most commonly used types of blinders. These blinders attach to the horse’s bridle making them easy to use so a hood isn’t necessary.
These blinders are used on all types of horses including ponies, hotbloods, warmbloods, and coldbloods.
Carriage blinders are used on ponies that pull carts and carriages. An example of a carriage pony would be the Hackney or the American Shetland pony. Even Connemara ponies are sometimes used for pulling carriages and will wear these blinders to keep better focused.
At the Scottsdale Arabian Horse Show, Arabians are sometimes shown pulling small carts. This is an example of a hotblood that would wear these blinders.
There are a variety of different warmbloods that use these kinds of blinders. Examples of these are the American Standardbred and the French Trotter. Both breeds are sulky racers and often wear blinders when racing. These breeds are seen using carriage blinders as well as racing blinders. It depends on the owner’s preferance.
Coldblooded horses are the ones most commonly seen wearing these blinders. The reason for this is because they are the type of horse that is most commonly seen in front of a carriage. Examples of coldblooded breeds that will wear these blinders are Clydesdale’s, Shires, Percherons, Belgians, and Friesians.
Racehorse Or Hood Blinders
Hood blinders are another version of blinders used on horses. They are called hood blinders because the blinders are held in place by a hood that goes over the horse’s face. The hood resembles a fly mask in appearance but has holes around the eyes where plastic cups are attached. The cups block part of the horse’s eyes so they can’t see behind them. The purpose of these blinders is to keep the horse’s attention on running ahead rather than the horses next to and behind them.
The most common type of horse to use these blinders is the Thoroughbred racehorse which is seen in competitions like the Triple Crown races. The horses raced are mostly stallions so having blinders helps to keep the stallion focused on the race rather than each other. Without blinders, some stallions may choose to fight with their racing opponent rather than try to run faster than them so the lack of distraction can really bebeditracehorses.
Some trotting horses use these blinders too for the same reason. American Standardbreds, French Trotters, and other breeds who race pulling sulkies often benefit from using this type of blinder.
Certain riding horses that have eye problems or sensitivity issues can sometimes benefit by using blinders. One of my friends has a blue roan that she rides using hood blinders because of a vision sensitivity. Ever since she put them on her horse, her little mare has greatly improved.
How Do Blinders Benefit Horses?
Blinders benefit horses by removing a lot of visual distractions in their hind and side vision and directing their focus on moving forward. Carriage horses benefit from these as it helps to keep them moving straight and in sync with their pulling partner.
Racehorses benefit from blinders as it keeps them on course and not distracted by their opponents.
What Are Blinders Made Out Of?
Harness Bridle Blinders
Carriage horse blinders or harness bridle blinders are typically made of the same material as the bridle is, which is typically leather. Sometimes, these blinders will have metal decorations on the outside of the blinder itself, but otherwise, it is made of just one material.
These blinders are typically the same color as the bridle and are made to match. Sometimes they are seen with a felt or cloth interior lining of another color, but otherwise, they are the same as the bridle.
Racehorse or Hood Blinders
Racehorse or hood blinders are made of many different materials. The hood itself is often made out of nylon or another synthetic material while the blinders themselves are usually made of hard plastic.
The hood and blinder cups can come in a variety of colors. If used on a racehorse, the hood often matches the color of the silks that the jockey wears. If the jockey’s silks are green and white, the blinders and saddle pad will be green and white as well.
What Is The Average Cost For Blinders?
Harness Bridle Blinders
The average price for a pair of blinders depends on the size, the quality, and the decoration of the blinder. If you are wanting to purchase a pair of blinders for a pony without decoration they may cost around $50 (USD). If you are looking to buy a pair of blinders for a large draft horse that are decorated in silver, you may be looking at spending around $120 (USD).
On average however, blinders for a carriage horse will cost you around $80 (USD).
Racehorse or Hood Blinders
There are a variety of different cups seen on the blinders used by racehorses so the price of the blinder would depend on the quality, type of cup, size, and whther or not the blinders or hood have been personalaized ir customized.
On average, for an average pair of blinders, the cost is around $50 (USD). A cheaper pair of blinders may only cost you about $30 (USD), and a high quality pair may cost you around $100 (USD), but on average they should only cost you around $50 (USD).