There are many important elements to training and preparing a horse for the races. For example, a trainer, track rider, jockey, and stable hands to get the best out of your horse. Another important factor is the type of gear your horse may wear. Besides your standard bridle and saddle, we will look at some common race gear that may be worn by your current or future thoroughbred.


Why is race gear for the horse important?

Sometimes horses need a helping hand at the races. This can be in the mounting yard, going to the gates, or during the race. This can be for safety reasons, better control for the jockey or to improve the horse’s concentration so its potential is reached during a race.

Lugging Bit

The standard bit used in Australia is the lugging bit or ring bit. These are snaffle-type bits with a ring attached to the bit rings. These are to help with control as they help a horse stay straight and not hang inward or outward. This is a minimal addition to any horse’s gear.


The most common piece of gear used is blinkers. These are hood-style piece that have plastic cups on either side of the head. These restrict the peripheral vision helping the horse focus on what’s in front of them. This in turn will help with concentration during a race. The downside to this piece is it may fire a horse up causing them to exert too much energy.

Winkers are similar but instead of a hood, they are sheepskin strips placed on either side of the bridle. These still restrict some vision from behind but they are able to see more around them. These are a step down from blinkers.

Tongue Tie

Another common tool in a trainer’s kit is the tongue tie. Tongue ties are a stocking material that is placed over the horse’s tongue and tied under the jaw. This keeps the tongue in place so they do not swallow their tongue during a race or get their tongue over the bit. This can be crucial for a horse as not having it’s tongue in the correct position can restrict the airway.

Cross Over Noseband

Cross-over nosebands are again another piece of equipment to ensure safety and control. These can either be plastic, leather or rubber. They normally have a piece that goes across the face and another strap that attaches under the mouth. These are used for horses that may pull or open their mouth during a race. This noseband helps keep the mouth and jaw closed which helps out the jockey in controlling the horse.

Ear Muffs

If your horse is a bit flighty your trainer may make the suggestion of ear muffs. These can be used either before the race or during. They are a hood (similar to blinkers but without cups) that have padded ears. The padded ears reduce what the horse can hear, keeping the horse calm. There are two different colours used for different reasons. Red ear muffs or pre-race muffs are used before the race and are removed at the gates. This are for horses who get excitable in the mounting yard but still need to be able to hear during a race. Black ear muffs are worn during a race and are commonly used for horses that need to stay calm during the duration of a race. Some horses who have famously worn ear muffs were Winx, Nature Strip, and Anamoe.


Nose Roll/Shadow Roll

A shadow or nose roll is a synthetic or sheepskin band that goes over the nose of the horse. Similar to winkers, they restrict the vision of the horse to a degree to improve concentration. It is designed to stop horses from looking at objects or shadows on the ground giving the rider more control. Alternatively, they may also be used for horses that over race or have high-head carriage. Because it restricts vision below the eye it encourages the horse to keep their head down.


There is plenty more race gear that could be potentially used alongside many of these common pieces. Hopefully, this gives you some insight for the future if your horse has a potential gear change.