Understanding Headgear In Horse Racing

You’ve probably noticed that sometimes during racing different horses wear different types of headgear.

Headgear is used by trainers to try and improve a horses performance, and different types of headgear can be used to correct different issues.

In this post I want to go through the different types of headgear and the reasons that it could be used. We can use this knowledge in our betting as it provides an understanding of how a horses performance may differ when headgear is worn.


Probably one of the most commonly used pieces of headgear, they are used to help horses that have a concentration problem. If a horse has been turning its head during racing and looking around, blinkers are used to restrict its view so that it can focus.

The biggest improvement in performance is usually seen when the blinkers are put on for the first time. It’s commonly thought that the more a horse wears them the more used to them they become and the less effective they are.


A visor is very similar to blinkers but the difference is that they have a slit cut in the side of them. This is to prevent a horse from panicking if it can’t see the other runners. The slit provides the reassurance that there are other runners but keeps the focus forwards.

Eye Shields

You will very rarely see a horse wearing eye shields as they’re usually for horses that are blind or missing an eye. However, the purpose of them is to prevent anything from going in the horses eyes. For this reason they’re most often worn at all-weather tracks where grains of the polytrack surface can fly into the horses faces.


Like blinkers these are used for concentration purposes. The big difference being that they’re less restrictive than blinkers. They can also be used to help a horse settle before a race and are significantly faster to put on and off than blinkers.


A hood covers the horses ears and head leaving eye holes for them to see. It is not used for concentration but rather horses that may be nervous of crowds and noises. They’re padded around the ears and so restrict the noise of the crowd, allowing a nervous horse to be calmed down.

Tongue Strap

You will often see a horses tongue flopping about during a race, this movement can restrict the horses breathing and air flow which then in turn affects the speed the horse can run.

A tongue strap prevents this by keeping the tongue in place for the duration of the race.


Some horses like to throw their heads around or look up rather than down while they’re racing. For these runners a noseband can restrict the field of vision and encourage the horse to lower it’s head and focus on the race.

Michael Wilding

Michael started the Race Advisor in 2009 to help bettors become long-term profitable. After writing hundreds of articles I started to build software that contained my personal ratings. The Race Advisor has more factors for UK horse racing than any other site, and we pride ourselves on creating tools and strategies that are unique, and allow you to make a long-term profit without the need for tipsters. You can also check out my personal blog or my personal Instagram account.


  1. Hello michael
    Last summer while watching the racing from Yarmouth a horse won at 100/1, so I looked at my paper to see if anything was different in the horses form ie.going etc when I noticed it was blinkered first time. This then started me off keeping records of horses with headgear on for the first time to see if a profitable angle could be found but alas no, I kept records for about 2 months and while it did throw up some decent priced winners no profit was the outcome. Having read your article it has got me thinking of another angle now, are their trainers out there that use headgear for the first time in order to get a horse to win.Watch this space. “This time next year Rodney”

    1. Hi Tony, I may be able to help save you a lot of time and paperwork. The racing post paper in its pointers section gives a list of horse’s wearing headgear for the 1st time. It also gives the trainers %s/r so enabling to see how good or bad they are with headgear for the 1st time. You have to remember Tony that the trainer will have tried the headgear on the horse on the gallops, so a watch of the market is a must. Hope this assist’s you. Regards Eddie.

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