Can a horse see with blinders on?

Answered by Jeremy Urbaniak

Can a horse see with blinders on?

When a horse wears blinders, it significantly restricts their vision. Blinders are small, usually leather, cups or shields that are attached to the bridle of a horse and cover the sides and rear of their eyes. The purpose of blinders is to limit the horse’s field of vision and focus their attention primarily in a forward direction.

The reduction in vision for horses wearing blinders is quite substantial. Normally, horses have a wide field of vision, estimated to be around 180 degrees. However, when blinders are worn, this field of vision is drastically reduced to as little as 30 degrees or less, depending on the size and depth of the blinders.

Imagine wearing a pair of glasses that covers the sides and rear of your eyes, leaving only a small frontal view. It would be challenging to see objects or movements on your periphery, and you would have to rely solely on what is directly in front of you. This is similar to how a horse’s vision is affected by blinders.

By limiting their peripheral vision, blinders help to keep horses focused and prevent distractions from their surroundings. This can be especially beneficial in certain situations where horses need to concentrate on their work or stay calm in potentially stressful environments. For example, racehorses often wear blinders to keep them focused on the track and prevent them from being startled by the crowd or other horses.

However, it is important to note that blinders do not completely block a horse’s vision. They still have a clear view of what is in front of them, allowing them to navigate and move forward. Nonetheless, their ability to see objects or obstacles on their sides or behind them is significantly compromised.

It is worth mentioning that the use of blinders is a controversial topic among horse enthusiasts and experts. Some argue that blinders can create unnecessary stress and anxiety for horses by limiting their natural instincts to be aware of their surroundings. Others believe that blinders can be beneficial when used appropriately and in moderation, as they can help horses stay focused and perform their tasks more effectively.

In my personal experience, I have seen horses wearing blinders in various situations. While it is evident that their vision is limited, they still seem to navigate and function reasonably well within the confines of their reduced field of vision. However, it is crucial for horse owners and trainers to consider the individual needs and preferences of their horses when deciding whether or not to use blinders.

To summarize, blinders significantly restrict a horse’s vision, reducing their field of view from around 180 degrees to as little as 30 degrees. While horses can still see what is directly in front of them, their ability to perceive objects or movements on their sides or behind them is greatly diminished. The use of blinders is a subject of debate among horse enthusiasts, with some advocating for their benefits in maintaining focus and reducing distractions, while others argue that they can cause stress and limit a horse’s natural awareness of their surroundings. Ultimately, the decision to use blinders should be made based on the individual needs and preferences of the horse.