What are blinkers?

In horse racing, blinkers refers to cowls, or cups – typically made from fabric, leather or plastic and attached to a garment that fits over the head – that are placed next to the eyes of a horse to restrict its field of vision. Blinkers come in several different varieties, ranging from so-called ‘cheaters’, which barely restrict any vision at all, to ‘full cup’ blinkers, which are highly restrictive.

Horses are naturally ‘prey’ animals and, as such, are blessed with a 275°, panoramic view of the world. They also have small blind spots, directly in front and directly behind, so the purpose of blinkers is allow forward vision, but to deny rear and, in some cases, side vision, all or in part. The application of blinkers forces horse to concentrate on forward vision, so that they are less likely to be distracted or upset by anything elsewhere in their natural field of vision.