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Blinders - good or bad ?

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  • Blinders - good or bad ?

    I am new to driving. I was wondering about everyone's thoughts on blinders. Its seems that some people prefer starting horses with them while some won't even consider it. Some horses are worked with them and some without them. Also what about saftey, do the blinders affect a horses ability to negotiate trails and rougher country (i.e. logging horses) ? I know some of this depends on the individual horse but I have been wondering about the reasoning behind the different opinions.

  • #2
    do a search, you'll find many threads about this. Many... many threads.


    • #3
      And what you'll find in those threads is that very few drive w/o blinkers.

      But each faction has strong opinions, hehe!

      "Outside of a dog, a book is a man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read." -Groucho Marx


      • #4
        Plus read the FAQ's.

        IMO they're a vital part of driving.


        • #5
          I think the key part of the question here has not yet been discussed, which is, "Do you START a horse w/ blinders?"

          Personally, I do not, and I know plenty of pro trainers who use blinders who likewise do not. I *want* the horse to know *exactly* what is behind it, thank you very much.

          I work 'em in lines both with and without blinders, then put to for the first few times without, then when they understand the routine, I add the blinders back in. Most trainers I know do it the same way - although of course it can vary from horse to horse.
          "The standard you walk by is the standard you accept."--Lt. Gen. David Morrison, Austalian Army Chief


          • #6
            The OP will discover that driving is no different to riding in that there's a huge variance in experience and opinion.

            Members posting on these threads range from novice drivers just like the OP to those who compete successfully at national or international fei level. In terms of experience with training driving horses it ranges from those who have had a go with one or two horses to those who are professionally qualified and experienced and who routinely produce high quality driving horses in large number.

            Use of blinkers has been discussed numerous times on loads of previous occasions. Been discussed for training and for driving once a carriage has been put behind the horse.

            I know that WA and I intrinsically disagree about how it's best or ordinarily done.

            I'd be interested in knowing how many driving horses WA has produced?

            I'd also be interested in understanding how many professional driving trainers she knows and who they are specifically and how qualified and what sort of driving they're ordinarily doing.

            I believe I know all of the qualified and licenced Light Harness Horse Trainers in the UK and quite a few in mainland Europe and I can't think of a single one that ordinarily starts young or novice driving horses without a driving bridle that includes blinkers.

            When I start horses that are going to be driving horses, they are bridled with driving bridles and with blinkers at early stage in their training. They're long reined with full driving harness on and that includes their driving bridle.


            • #7
              Well, I'll provide names by DM if required, but for public consumption purposes, do an IHP Bronze Medalist and an IHP Silver Medalist in Single Horse satisfy your requirements?

              It really is a fairly standard practice over here. Let me clarify that by "first few drives" I probably mean something a lot different than what you might mean by it - I mean, the horse still has headers w/ lunge lines on each side at the beginning of each session and is still in the arena learning to walk and turn. Once they can stand quietly to be put to, walk, halt, turn, and trot down each long side, then the blinkers go back on, and the same procedure is repeated.

              I think you misunderstand me slightly, Thomas. I have never EVER been an advocate of driving open for EVERY horse. My new little lad Quattro will, beyond any shadow of a doubt, be driven WITH BLINKERS. He is NOT a horse I would consider driving open. Nor was the little Hackney pony I had. In fact, I'd have to guesstimate that of the horses I've started, 90% ended up wearing blinkers. All I have ever said is that driving open CAN work for SOME horses - but not, by ANY means, all.
              "The standard you walk by is the standard you accept."--Lt. Gen. David Morrison, Austalian Army Chief


              • #8
                Ahhhh..... Sorry I was getting a totally different impression from your posts. So you mean you know a couple of professional drivers who do the first couple of long reining training sessions without blinkers.


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Thomas_1 View Post
                  Ahhhh..... Sorry I was getting a totally different impression from your posts. So you mean you know a couple of professional drivers who do the first couple of long reining training sessions without blinkers.
                  No... the first couple of PUTTING-TO sessions without blinkers. In the arena, with headers on lunge lines until the horse is seen to be standing quietly to be hitched (and while shafts are repeatedly raised and lowered, and while being bumped deliberately with the shafts, and while shafts are repeatedly put into/removed from tugs, and while shafts are deliberately dropped behind it) and then pulling quietly and calmly at a walk, including turns. Then next session, the blinkers go back on with the whole process repeated however many times it takes until horse is dealing with that equally well.

                  I think you will find that over here, quite a lot of pro trainers do it this way, including the names I PM'd you.
                  "The standard you walk by is the standard you accept."--Lt. Gen. David Morrison, Austalian Army Chief


                  • Original Poster

                    Thank you all for your replies, I have read through the FAQS section regarding blinders, very informative.

                    The reason I have asked this is that trainer I have been working with (who I am very confident in and pleased with her work) ALWAYS starts horses in blinders and doesn't take them off. I was just curious about the reasoning behind the "no blinders" or "sometimes no blinders" camps, as I can see how it might be beneficial for the horse to see what is causing the noises etc. On the other hand if they are deeply bothered by the sight and have a hard time getting over it I am not sure once blinders are put back on that they would help very much. But perhaps a horse like that really isn't a driving prospect. Also what are the negatives to always using blinders (other than the horse not being able to get comfortable with the sight of something following)?

                    And one more question please- do you think it is important or helpful for green horses to be around and able to see calm broke horses worked in harness, with the idea that the green one will see the other horse is not worried and can see/hear the noises that the vehicle makes and see that the other horse accepts them ?

                    Thank you !


                    • #11
                      Novice here with no driving qualifications at all except a lot of reading, watching, learning and doing.....

                      I believe that part of the reason for blinders is so that the horse doesn't get startled by what is around/behind it. Another reason is that putting them on a horse makes the horse listen to the driver, and (hopefully) trust the driver to make the right decisions that the horse will listen to no matter what. (I once saw what could have been a huge wreck, but the horse listened to the driver's "HUP!" and averted disaster. If the horse had seen what was happening around him he may not have been as quick to react to the aid, and it would have been a mess...)
                      Another point about driving in blinders is that the whip is an aid, and if the horse can see the whip, it may not be as effective, as he's always trying to keep one eye on it? (That from my own experience).
                      The book by Doris Ganton...Breaking and Training the Driving Horse, is great, and cheap on-line.
                      I am about to embark on the ground training of my own horse, who will then be sent to an experienced person to be started with the cart. I will begin ground driving, introducing the harness etc, and I will introduce the blind bridle when all of that is solid. Then, if all goes well, I will introduce the work in poles, again with the blind bridle, and continue in this forever.

                      Your second question...Always before, I've had driving horses that were started by Old Order Mennonites. They always start young horses alongside a well-trained, bomb-proof driving horse, who sort of "shows them the ropes", and also has enough mass to stop them from doing anything silly...like going into traffic. All of their horses are super road broke, because they are driven on the road/highways, and have seen lots of things and gone lots of places. I think it is important for young/new horses to see lots of exciting stuff so not too much is a surprise later.

                      Check out that book. It's very good.

                      Your beliefs don't make you a better person, your behaviour does.


                      • #12
                        The main reason why a horse is driven with blinkers is so it focuses and concentrates on what is in front of it rather than all that stuff going on behind it.

                        So it's not seeing the likes of the carriage and whip aid all of which is happening behind.


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by red squirrel ridge View Post
                          On the other hand if they are deeply bothered by the sight and have a hard time getting over it I am not sure once blinders are put back on that they would help very much.
                          I think you may have a point there.

                          I knew a very good driving gelding which had been driven successfully at competition level which may be a case in point.

                          He was competing at an event where he had to be ridden at one point and, in an effort to save time, he was put to in his riding bridle. This was the first time he'd ever been driven without blinkers.

                          He only went a few yards before becoming very nervous and uptight...........so much so that he'd to be stopped and his bridle changed before he was driven the couple of hundred yards to where he was to be ridden.

                          Although the horse wasn't settled for the rest of that day, nothing more was thought about it, but the next time that horse was driven, at an indoor event, he bolted. The groom was thrown from the carriage, the whip eventually went the same way, and by the time the horse was stopped he had done irrepairable damage to his deep digital flexor tendon in the near hind, and had to be destroyed.

                          I believe he never knew what was causing the noise behind him till he was driven in the riding bridle, but, once he'd seen the carriage, he knew that sound and what it was, and that's what caused him to bolt the next time out.

                          It was a tragic mistake which caused the death of a promising youngster.


                          • #14
                            I know someone who is driving a newly Amish trained 3 yo. pony w/o blinkers. She is a very hot pony, but is doing really well. Not sure which way she was trained, but her oowner doesn't like the blinkers that came with her bridle so doesn't use it.

                            Maybe that's why she's a hot pony till she tires a bit - but she sure knows what's behind her and doesn't seem upset by it.
                            "Outside of a dog, a book is a man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read." -Groucho Marx


                            • #15
                              With regards to horses seeing other horses driving.
                              I think this is vital to a horse's education, especially if you are ever going to show a horse at a show with driving horses on the premises.

                              If your own horse never sees the front end of a carriage, it should be comfortable seeing other horses hitched. You wouldn't want to ruin a perfectly good show day under saddle with Dobbin laying eyes on the horrible half horse, half rattley contraption monster, do ya?

                              I often drive my horses in an adjoining outdoor ring while horses are over the fence in a pasture. They get to see the horse and carriage without the pressure of being under saddle and the driving horse gets practice paying attention to me and ignoring the gallavanting horses playing over the fence.

                              If you don't have the luxury of exposing your horse to hitched horses at home, get thee to a place for practice sessions so it becomes no big deal for your dude. I also suggest driving with a friend who is also driving a horse. Sometimes, the first few times a hitched horse is passed by another carriage, they can be frightened by the upcoming new noise and startled when the horse and carriage finally come into view past the blinkers.

                              That is to say, if your horse is wearing blinkers
                              ...don't sh** where you eat...