Why Do Horses Wear Blinders? Everything you need to know

Like dogs, Horses have been around humans for the longest time. Though their popularity as a mode of transportation died down ages ago, it doesn’t make the animal any less fascinating. One typical quality of horses is their alertness to their environment. They use their eyes to survey and weigh situations, taking flight over questionable movements.

Horses are predisposed to look out for danger, and they would sooner put a great distance between themselves and predators than stop to observe the threat. This has aided their survival in the wild, and taking flight isn’t an issue with their speed.

Today, horses still maintain the same quality of using their eyes located by the side of their head to observe things. Their eyes give them a 360-angle view of their surroundings, and with the knowledge that they are prey, they are always nervous and watchful for danger. This article has all the information regarding a binder, why horses wear them, and how to select the right one.

What are Blinders?

To start, blinders cut out horses’ full access to their eyes and focus their attention forward. It removes the temptation of distraction from the horses’ path by cutting off its access to seeing its surroundings. The blinders cut off their peripheral view and any movement that would distract them from the task.

Horse Blinders

Anything can spook a distracted horse. A horse is afraid and tends to take off or veer off course during racing. For the trainer, it’s a move that puts them behind the clock on the race court.

However, as mentioned before, this defense mechanism has saved horses in the wild for centuries, using their speed to put distance between them and the perceived danger. But veering off course during a race puts other riders, the jockey, and the spectators in danger. Hence the blinders; with the horse’s attention focused, it stays on track.

Do Blinders Blind the Horse?

It’s not uncommon to notice a horse on blinders. Aside from the clear plastic cup over the mask attached to a harness on their head, they’re more focused and calm.

Horse blinders

Furthermore, blinders are not decorative, and it’s not cruel enough to blind the horses, as the name suggests. It does the opposite: restricting horses’ distractions, reducing their stress load, and keeping them focused.

Uses of Blinders

There are various reasons why blinders are necessary for horses, and there are also different types of blinders, each specific to the horse’s need and task. To begin with,

Racehorse blinders

Race courts house many distractions, ranging from cheering crowds to birds to noise from megaphones. All of which can frighten a horse.

Racehorse blinders

To that end, blinders work splendidly to limit these distractions and increase the horse’s speed. It helps the horse focus by limiting its peripheral vision. Without distractions, it focuses ahead, aiming for the finish line.

In addition, blinders protect the horse’s eyes from dirt, debris, and sand on the race track that otherwise would cause physical harm to the animal. Eye irritation and infection might occur if the horse’s eyes come in contact with the dirt. As a result, they need blinders to shield them.

Draft horse blinders

With the invention of more accessible and faster ways of getting work done, draft horses or working horses are no longer a go-to choice for labor like plowing fields, load or goods transportation, carriage pull, etc. That notwithstanding, draft horses also need blinders to focus.

Draft horse blinders

Like racehorses, they can easily get distracted by several factors that don’t help smoothen the workflow as the workers would hope. But with the aid of blinders, draft horses can pull straight without distraction. The horse’s mind wouldn’t be focused on figuring out what it is attached to because, as a prey animal, they are well aware danger comes from the rear. Blinders take that fear away, narrowing the horse’s focus to what’s important and removing the possibility of the horse taking flight.

Furthermore, blinders help train horses to trust their driver more and take directions without question because their vision is restricted.

Types of Blinders

Full cup blinders

A full cup blinder will come in handy if the horse is predisposed to running off course during a race. It is placed on the outside eye of the mask.

Full cup blinders

Standard blinders

Although this blinder restricts the horses’ distractions, they can still see other horses near them on the race track through a hole burrowed in the blinder. It’s a ⅔ cup blinder with a hole on the side for a better view.

Standard blinders

French cup

As previously mentioned, anything can distract a horse, including the jockey’s whip. When the horse anticipates the jockey’s whip, it becomes distracting. As such, this blinder extends straight out of the mask and blocks the jockey from the view of the horse, helping it focus on the race.

French cup

Cheater cup blinders

This blinder is smaller than others and restricts just a small part of the horse’s visual. Its purpose is psychological for the horse, to remind them that it’s race time.

Cheater cup blinders

Customized blinders

Horses differ; therefore, the blinder that works for one might not necessarily work for the other. Thus, it’s best to customize and choose the blinder according to your horse’s specific needs and modify it according to its physique to help it perform better. You can discover the blinder for your horse’s needs by observing what attributes your horse displays.

Customized blinders

Alternative to Horse Blinders

In the absence of horse blinders, or if you’re seeking an alternative to horse blinders, the shadow roll works effectively. If the horse is prone to be distracted by the objects on the ground, the shadow roll is a perfect choice as it restricts a portion of the horse’s vision. Once attached to the bridle’s noseband, it narrows the horse’s focus to what’s essential.


Horses are prey animals; when they perceive a threat, they get derailed easily and take off. Their flight is a defense mechanism that has aided their survival for centuries in the wild, but for showmanship like horse racing, it’s a defense mechanism that isn’t much appreciated. It puts the trainers behind, and in most cases, it costs them the race.

However, blinders help curtail horses’ skittishness by cutting off their peripheral view. It is the number one reason horses wear blinders, alongside safety measures, because a frightened horse in flight may injure itself along with the people in its way.

Unlike how the name sounds, blinders are not a form of animal cruelty. They help the horses focus on the task by cutting off their peripheral vision.

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