What Racehorses Wear

Specialized tack and equipment help horses run their best race. Here’s a look at some of the tack you might see racehorses sporting.
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what racehorses wear
Racehorses, including Breeders' Cup champion Groupie Doll (seen here) might run in blinkers to help them stay focused on the task at hand. | Photo: Breeders' Cup/Jamie Rhodes

Head to a racetrack for morning workouts, and you’ll likely see horses wearing what look like typical English saddles. Return during the races, though, and the picture changes considerably. Gone are the galloping saddles, replaced by tiny scraps of leather that could hardly hold most of us in place.

Just as with any other discipline, racehorses wear gear that helps them do their job. The trick for trainers, though, is keeping that gear as light as possible. Conventional wisdom says every extra pound of jockey and tack a horse carries costs a length of distance, and sometimes margins as small as a nose, head, or neck determine the difference between victory and defeat.

That’s why racing has developed the itty-bitty saddle. A race’s conditions determine how much weight each horse must carry. Jockeys provide their own saddle for a race, and many have multiple saddles that weigh anywhere from 2 to 10 pounds

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Written by:

Tracy Gantz is a freelance writer based in Southern California. She is the Southern California correspondent for The Blood-Horse and a regular contributor to Paint Horse Journal, Paint Racing News, and Appaloosa Journal.

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