The fitting of blinkers or "the blinds" as they are sometimes referred to, has always been a matter for debate. While some trainers fit their charges with blinkers with regularity, others simply refuse to use them. There are some people who associate blinkers with roguishness or a lack of honesty in a horse, and many punters view the fitting of blinkers with a degree of suspicion, especially when a runner is fitted with them intermittently, instead of on a permanent basis. In several countries, once a horse has won a race while wearing blinkers, the fitting of them becomes mandatory for all future races - and quite right too.
• The main aim of fitting racehorses with blinkers is to aid concentration by stopping the horse from looking around and to help them to run in a balanced manner and to a straight line when brought under pressure. Most animals who wear this device are thoroughly genuine but do need the correcting influence of the blinkers to bring out the best in them. A few are indeed un-genuine, but they are in a minority.
• Always take note when a horse is sporting blinkers for the first time. Their application will sharpen it up and may bring about an improvement in form. It is an especially important factor to consider in sprint races, where the break from the stalls is vital. If in previous races an animal was losing ground as the stalls opened, it should, with the aid of blinkers, show greater alacrity from the gate, and with that, an improved performance. If a sprinter has been previously missing the break or swerving and becoming unbalanced on leaving the stalls, and yet is still able to finish the race on the heels of the winner or placed horses, then a possible win might be the outcome if fitted with the "headgear" for the first time, and perhaps at good value odds.
• Be more cautious with the middle-distance and staying animal that is wearing blinkers for the first time. The initial fitting of the device sometimes has the effect of inducing the horse to pull hard for its head during the early stages of the race, thereby unnecessarily burning up valuable reserves of energy, and as a consequence will be found wanting at the business end of the contest. This, of course, would be an unlikely event if the pace of the race was a fast one throughout, but if, as is so often the case, the early pace was slow, or even worse, funereal, then the headstrong, hard pulling horse might well exhaust itself before the race begins in earnest. Watch how the blinkered animal canters to post; if it is pulling hard here, then it will also be prone to do likewise in the early stages of the race itself.
• Have reservations about backing a horse that is wearing blinkers for the first time after a disappointing performance which followed several good runs without blinkers. This horse may not improve for blinkers; its poor last-timeout performance might have been due merely to having had an "off day".
• Occasionally a horse fitted with the blinds may resent them and run badly. Of course this aversion will not usually become known until after the race is run and the cause is lost. Although many horses do improve with the aid of blinkers, there is no guarantee of it - as is the case with most aspects governing the performance of the thoroughbred racehorse.
• Take note of the blinkered runners if there is going to be a strong headwind blowing against the field for much of the race. The wind can swirl around inside the leather cups that form the eye-shields and unsettle a horse. Watch for any reaction from the blinkered runners during the preliminaries on a day when such conditions prevail.
• Sometimes a horse that needs to be fitted with blinkers is made nervous or rather uneasy by the tunnel vision enforced by a full set of blinkers. It is therefore, as an alternative, usually fitted with a visor, which is a pair of blinkers with an aperture -usually a long slit cut down each eye-shield – which allows the horse some lateral vision, while at the same time assisting the animal to concentrate on its running.
• In some instances a horse will be fitted with a hood. This device does not shield the eyes in any way, but it does cover the ears and most of the head and neck regions. It is normally fitted to horses which are unsettled by the noise created during the running of a race, or for those animals which dislike cold and inclement weather conditions.

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