Headgear: Visor, Cheekpieces, Eyeshield, Hood
A visor is similar to blinkers, except that the cups have a hole or slit cut into them, allowing some
limited vision to the side or rear. A trainer may think it useful to know if another horse is coming up
Mick Channon’s good filly Malabar, fourth in the 1000 Guineas in 2015, appreciated the drop in grade
when taking the Group 3 Bonhams Thoroughbred Stakes at Goodwood. Channon explained that Malabar was small,
and he had put the visor on so that the filly didn’t feel intimidated.
Cheekpieces comprise two sheepskin strips which are fitted to the cheek straps of the bridle. As with
the use of blinkers or a visor, the intention is to help a horse concentrate by partially restricting its
rear vision. Jockey Tom Scudamore, interviewed in 2015, said that cheekpieces or blinkers could help a horse
with its jumping, as the headgear encouraged it to attack its fences.
Noting that his handicap chaser Woodford County had been looking around him and not concentrating when
beaten at Huntingdon, trainer Philip Hobbs applied the cheekpieces next time out at Chepstow, and the horse
As the name implies, an eyeshield is mainly used to protect a horse’s eyes from particles of mud or sand
which are thrown up by the hooves of other horses. It looks similar to blinkers, but instead of the cowls both
eyes are covered by a mesh or other transparent material. According to the rules of racing, this material must
allow for adequate ventilation, and may be unsuitable in wet conditions when the kickback may stick to the
A hood comprises a head cloth without eye cowls but which covers the ears. It is used on horses that may react
adversely to noise. Two year old colt Perceus was fitted with a hood on his second run after finishing third on
his debut. Trainer Marcus Tregoning explained that Perceus was an excitable sort, and as it was a windy day and
rather noisy, the hood might help to calm him. Roger Varian said that a hood had helped his four year old filly
Princess Loulou. The clanging of the starting gate tended to upset her, and the hood muffled the noise. Horses
which are worried by the noise and bustle of the pre-race paddock might wear a hood, which is removed when they
leave the paddock to canter down to the start.