Understanding Headgear In Racing

Understanding Headgear in Horse Racing

In horse racing, jockeys are used primarily to steer the horse in the right direction, and to get utmost effort out of his or her mount. Some horses however, need added initiatives to maximise their performance.

Headgear is used by trainers to try and improve a horses overall performance, and different types of headgear can be used to correct different issues, such as greeness or lack of concentration.

Below are a list of examples of different headgear, and how and why they are used.


One of the most commonly used pieces of headgear are blinkers. 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.

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, however there is a key difference.

Visors have a slight slit cut in the side of them, preventing a horse from panicking if it can’t see the other runners. The slit provides the reassurance that there are other runners but maintains the focus of going forward.


Cheekpieces again very similar to blinkers - used for concentration purposes.

The big difference here is 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.

Cheekpieces are usually warn by horses that find it hard to maintain a straight line, and perhaps go wondering on the track.


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.

Hoods are particularly useful with juveniles, and are sometimes often used in just the parade ring.


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.

It also assists horse that like to tug hard on the bridle, protecting any rub in their skin.