Basic Action: Taking note of “equipment changes” is a key component of analyzing horse races. One of the most significant equipment changes involves the addition or removal of blinkers. Horse blinkers essentially function as a mechanism that narrows the optical width of a horse (like blinders). When a horse wears blinkers, they can’t observe horses to their inside or outside.
Functionally, blinkers are used to get horses to break more alertly from the gate and to get them to focus on getting to the lead. Blinkers also are used to prevent a horse from hanging, or sticking around with their competition (which they’d be able to see without blinkers) and making it more likely (in theory) for them to run by.
Advanced Action: When a horse wears blinkers for the first time, it’s quite possible that he/she could show marked improvement. Remember, blinkers generally have the practical effect of getting horses to focus better.
Many racing programs and statistic providers will indicate how well certain trainers do when their horses use blinkers for the first time. That information is useful because it provides some insight as to which trainers make the switch to blinkers because their horses actually need blinkers, as opposed to a trainer who might add blinkers just to try something new.
Also, take note of horses removing blinkers or adding blinkers after previously removing them. Sometimes, horses don’t respond to blinkers and run poorer than normal when adding blinkers. If a horse who fits that profile removes blinkers, they might logically be expected to improve. The same logic should be applied to horses who re-add blinkers after a poor race or two without blinkers.