Driving without blinkers is really not a big deal. Take the time to train the horse and most of them will just learn to accept the carriage. I have driven all of mine, including an OTTB, both with and without blinkers. For most it didn't matter either way. The OTTB actually was MUCH better without the blinkers and I wish I had shown her that way.
Recently ...about the time staged (town to town) coaching (driving a four in 2+2 fashion) came to the fore, and driving cast-off race Thoroughbreds became the norm for coaching. The blinkers had an important job - they protected the eyes of the wheelers from the leader reins (which in the earliest coaching days passed through a standing terret on the poll before they eventually moved lower on the head nearer the eyes when the poll terret was supplanted by a drop terret at the side of the head (around the middle of the 1800's). Blinkers also kept the leaders' attention on the road in front of them, and allowed the bridles to be interchangable from leader to wheeler.
The new addition to the bridle caught on. Wealthy owners who coached found the blinkers to be a nice backdrop for advertising your family crest.
Everyone wants to imitate the rich. The fad caught on - if you use what the rich/famous use, that sets you a cut above. That's how fashion become the norm. Just like the knights having treed saddles when most riding saddles were treeless. If you rode in a treed saddle, that put you a cut above your more lowly neighbor who couldn't afford the more expensive treed saddle. Which is why most saddles are now treed, although the knights are now long gone never to return.
Just put 2 + 2 together. 4 is usually the correct answer.
Last edited by gothedistance; Apr. 15, 2012 at 10:54 AM.