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.
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.
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.