These leather straps aren’t just for show. They’re possibly the most important piece of equipment a jockey has when racing. And there are two main strappings that are used on race day.
The first is a halter, which is attached to a horse when they are in the stable. The halter is usually a loose-fitting set of straps that run across the nose and head of the horse, to keep it under control. Horses can therefore be tied loosely in a stable while they wait to be raced.
Once horses are brought out to parade and ride, a bridle is attached. This is a more close-fitting set of straps that run over the ears, feature a bit between the teeth and feed reins back to the jockey.
By utilising the reins, the jockey can steer their horse, slow it down to better time a jump, or let out some slack so they potentially go faster. That’s because racing is all about the relationship between jockey and horse, and to maintain a strong bond the rider must be able to handle the beast below them.
WHY DO HORSES WEAR HALTERS?
Stable workers would have a hard time controlling the horse were it not to wear a horse racing halter.
Indeed, race horses are strong animals and pack plenty of speed in those legs. Halters are used to help reduce the problem of horses galloping away from their handlers during transportation to and from the stables. Keeping hold of the halter – and therefore controlling the horse’s head – is the best way to show who’s boss without hurting the horse.
HORSE RACING HEADGEAR
There are plenty of features that can be added to the bridle to help horses in a race. These include blinkers, visors and hoods, all of which are used to try and get the horse to focus on what’s in front of them, rather than distractions on the racecourse.
Eye covers and eyeshields are both similar to blinkers but use different materials to aid or reduce visibility. Indeed, eye covers are non-transparent and are rarely seen at racecourses as they are utilised to protect a damaged or blind eye.
Earplugs can also be used to avoid unwanted distractions, while a tongue strap keeps the tongue in place in order to aid the horse’s breathing during a race.
DOES HEADGEAR AFFECT HORSE RACING ODDS?
If you’re racing betting and realise your horse is wearing a lot of headgear then that doesn’t necessarily mean they are less likely to live up to their odds.
After all, trainers add headgear to horses for a wide range of reasons. Sometimes the jockey will suggest a tweak in the headgear, or a trainer will decide before the race that extra features are needed.
Remember, the halter is replaced by the bridle when horses are being prepared to race.
Check out other guides in our Demystifying Racing series…
- What does it mean when a horse is On the Bridle?
- What is a Black type horse race?
- What are the different types of going in horse racing?
- What is a bumper horse race?
- What are blinkers and why do some horses wear them?
- What is an Allowance Race in horse racing?
- What is the difference between hurdles and fences in National Hunt racing?
- What is the Rule 4 betting rule in horse racing?
- What does it mean when a horse has spread a plate?
- What is the difference between graded, handicap and selling horse races?
- What does a novice hurdle in horse racing mean?
- What is a listed horse race?
- What does a novice chase in horse racing mean?
- Why do race horses have different ratings and what do they mean?
- When does the National Hunt season start and when does it end?
- Why are there different grades of horse race?
- Why are there 3 different types of National Hunt race?
- Why are race horses given different weights and what does it mean?
- How many different classes of horse race are there?
- What is a claiming race and what do they mean?
- What is an optional claimer in horse racing?
- What is a shadow roll and why do some race horses wear them?
- Why do some races start from stalls and some not?
- What is the difference between Derby and Oaks races?
- What does it mean when a horse knuckles during a horse race?
- What is a stayer in horse racing?
- What is a yearling horse and when are they ready to race?
- What does it mean if a horse has won a point race?
- What does a maiden mean in horse racing?
- How are horses’ ages calculated and why is it not the same as humans?
- What advantages do apprentice jockeys get when riding against professionals?
- What is a conditional jockey?
- What does the term ‘connections’ mean in horse racing?
- Why do some horses wear cheekpieces?
- Who are the stewards in horse racing?
- What does ‘weighed in’ mean at the end of a horse race?
- What is a nursery race?
- Why are some National Hunt races run without fences?
- Why are some horses given a tongue tie during races?