If you are into horses or have ever strolled through a stable or watched a horse race, you might have wondered: What is the purpose of horse eye cover? Is it absolutely necessary to keep a horse’s eyes covered? What’s its purpose—and what could be the downsides? And so on.
Well, to address your queries, we have written a comprehensive guide to horse blinders, briefly touching every aspect of the item.
What Is Horse Eye Cover Called?
The horse eye cover is either called blinker or blinder. However, there are other names as well, such as fly mask, visor, etc. The reason behind so many names is the available types of horse eye covers.
Each type of horse eye cover has a specific purpose and thus has a different structure. We will get into the details of each type shortly.
Why Do They Cover Horses Eyes?
Although a horse having its eyes covered looks a bit odd, horse blinders are used for a plethora of beneficial reasons. The most common rationales in this regard are discussed below:
Since horses can easily get distracted by the disturbing sounds around them, horse eye cover is used to keep the focus intact by not letting a horse look at the person or item from which such distracting sounds are originating.
For instance, when a horse performs great during a race and the spectators start making noise, in the commotion, the blinders help horses not get distracted by the noise and focus on the track and ace the race.
Likewise, it helps reduce peripheral vision disabling him from seeing his fellow equines running along with him, keeping his focus glued to the track and the jockey’s commands.
When an untrained or a novice rider mounts a horse, horse vision is limited so that he does not see the path or catch a glance of the rider. If the horse finds the rider unfamiliar, he might harm them. Similarly, when the horse is afraid of something around him, he may act erratically, dismounting and harming the rider. Thus, blinders can keep a horse as relaxed as he has no idea about who is riding him or what is around.
Unlike the calmness horses possess at stables, they may become overwhelmed by anxiety when wandering through busy streets. Hence, in a quest to make equines feel at home, owners use horse eye cover so that they cannot see the crowd or anything other that would make them anxious.
Covering horse eyes during training sessions can be very useful in certain ways. To name a few, it keeps the attention pinned to the jockey, it may prevent a horse from slowing down while being trained for a race, and it keeps the horse even-tempered. Due to these benefits, trainers usually prefer to keep their horses’ eyes covered throughout the coaching sessions.
Protection From Flying Insects
Since horse eyes are sensitive and can get infected very easily, eye blinders are used to keep all the infection-causing agents away. They are especially helpful when they are running a race, and the possibility of them hitting flies and insects in the air becomes more probable.
Safety from Sunlight
Some horse breeds having light-colored eyes, such as blue, are sensitive to sunlight. Hence, horse eye covers are used to limit the entry of sun rays into their eyes, just like we wear sunglasses.
Harrison Howard CareMaster Pro Luminous Horse Fly Mask is a specially designed, lab-tested horse eye cover that restricts the quantity of the UV rays entering a horse’s eyes without limiting his vision.
It is usually desirable—and in some cases, recommended – that horses have their eyes covered whenever they are healing from any sort of eye injury or infection. Doing so will not put unnecessary strain on the eyes and lead them through the recovery process quickly and easily.
Horse Eye Cover Types
People have a hard time distinguishing between different types of horse eye covers.
To help you overcome this confusion once and for all, we have briefly discussed the three most common variants of horse eye covers.
The visor is a simple, soft cloth tightened with plastic around the eyes and typically used as a racing horse eye cover. Visors find another common use in horse training.
The visor is open from the front but covers the sides of the eyes. Thus, the front vision remains clear while the peripheral vision is blocked.
Fly Mask or Fly Cap
They are masks made of mesh and used to cover eyes, jaws, and, in some cases, ears. Their use is to protect horses from flies and sunlight while keeping them able to see and hear simultaneously. Due to this advantage, fly masks are more popular in the summer season when flies and sunlight are in abundance.
Cashel Quiet Ride Horse Fly Mask has a fine mesh, offering the horse a clear line of vision and comfort. It is also very easy to attach over the bridle.
Horse blinkers or blinders either completely or very significantly obscure horse vision; hence, they are also called blindfolds. They are usually used in extreme cases, like passing through a busy street. Similarly, if there is an emergency like a fire at the barn, and the horse is standing still, unable to move, because of nervousness, you can blindfold the horse to help with nervousness and get him moving.
Intrepid International Full Cup Blinker Hood is a full cup blinker that considerably limits the horse’s vision. Additionally, it is made of stretchable material, making it easy to fit.
How to Carefully Put on Horse Eye Cover
For the first time when you cover your horse’s eyes, he might react very seriously, especially when it is a blinder. Therefore, you must not do it in haste. Instead, make sure that your horse is calm and that he is properly socialized with you and usually accepts your commands.
In case your horse overreacts, it is advisable to use the harness and keep it deployed until his behavior and temperament become completely normal again.
Nevertheless, if your horse still does not remain comfortable even after a long time of covering his eyes, it is recommended to abort and do it later on.
Furthermore, you should follow the following recommendations to keep your horse and yourself safe:
- Ensure that the horse eye cover fits properly and does not rub against the facial skin, causing abrasion or irritation.
- Choose the safest mask for your horse. Because horses graze regularly, the cover should be able to open itself as soon as it gets stuck in anything. This way, the neck of your horse will remain safe, and the risk of injury will be minimized.
- If you are not completely sure on how to proceed with covering your horse’s eyes, or if your horse is aggressive, consider consulting a professional.
History of Horse Eye Cover
Horse eye covers have been used for ages, and their origin is traced back to ancient Egypt.
Logic suggests that horse eye covers were used in the past mainly to protect the eyes from being struck with reins. Moreover, such coverings were also useful in wars, making horse eyes less prone to damage and keeping horses from getting distracted by all the commotion and bloodshed in battlegrounds.
Gradually, the item started gaining popularity because of all of the uses of horse eye cover discussed earlier. Different segments in societies began using it for different purposes: the wealthy used it for decorations, and the workers implied it to keep their horses disciplined.
Is the Use of Horse Eye Cover Cruel?
Absolutely not. The use of horse eye covers is anything but cruel. It is for the good of the horse. Horse eye covers help protect their eyes from dust, flies, etc. similarly, horse blindfolds help keep the horse calm in crowded places by keeping them from spooking out.
Horse eye covers have been used for centuries with several benefits for horses, like staying calm and focused amidst a crowded place and keeping the infectious agents at bay. Using it is beneficial for the riders as well; perhaps, it would have been impossible to manage a horse effectively had blinders not been a part of this world. Moreover, though the item is helpful, care must be taken while deploying it on your horse to avoid any mishap.