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KERRY'S CORNER, QUESTION

I was wondering what your thoughts were in regards to a horse needing or being made to wear blinkers on the race track. Is this in reality an impediment to the horse in the long run as opposed to the short term supposed gains?

- Martha Meyers, England

ANSWER

Dear Martha,

Thank you for sending me this question, I am happy to address it with my own personal thoughts.

I feel it is a fallacy to think one will attain consistent success by limiting or inhibiting any of the equine senses. A horse should be guided into his or her athletic environment with all of the senses nature has equipped them with fully intact.

The constriction of one sensation only leads to the eventual heightening of the other senses and during this process, while the body assimilates to this change; a great deal of stress is necessarily incurred. This leads to many other collateral issues and may do more harm than good in the long run. I feel that if a horse requires these things to focus on the task, or in essence needs to be separated from the herd dynamics that develop during the group in motion, you will have your generic inconsistent race horse. If the horse needs impairment tools, the question should be asked as to how ready the horse actually is, win or lose.

To me, it makes more sense to develop training protocols that embrace and utilize the natural senses in all of their capacities. Sensory training is a very important part of the overall picture (far too often overlooked) and is essential in developing the mentally sound equine. The confidence a horse gains far exceeds any argument against its being developed. A horse fully aware of his or her environment and who is allowed full use of the senses, has a greater ability to swiftly interpret his individual place within the group, whether a herd in motion, as is the case in a race, or within a casual pasture setting.

Kerry

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