What’s the difference between blinkers, cheekpieces and a visor?

The principal role of a thoroughbred racehorse trainer is to produce each horse in peak physical condition on raceday, so that it is capable of performing to the best of its ability. However, certain horses, for a variety of reasons, including immaturity, or ‘greenness’, lack of concentration, laziness or just plain roguishness, may need an extra incentive to produce their best form. Under such circumstances, a trainer may opt for headgear, in the form of blinkers, cheekpieces or visor, in an effort to sharpen up a horse and maximise its potential.

Blinkers are semi-circular, usually leather or plastic, cups that are attached to the bridle and restrict peripheral vision, such that the horse focuses on what is happening to the front, rather than to either side or to the rear. To inexperienced horses, racecourse surroundings may prove raucous and distracting, so the application of blinkers may help them to remain calm and collected in the preliminaries and fully attentive in the race itself.

Cheekpieces, and a visor, for that matter, are similar in principle to blinkers insofar as they restrict peripheral vision, albeit to a lesser degree. Cheekpieces, which, as the name suggests, consist of two strips of sheepskin or similar material attached to the bridle, are the least restritive form of headgear and are used primarily as a aid to concentration. A visor is similar to blinkers, but with the addition of eye slits, which afford a small degree of peripheral vision, such that a horse is ‘comforted’ by the presence of its rivals during a race.