Harness Gear

This section explains the gear commonly used in harness racing, some of which must be notified in order for a horse to race. 

Bandages - can be used on Pacers or Trotters to help protect and support front and or back legs.

Bell Boots - a rubber boot, which is placed over a horse's hoof to protect its heels.

Bit - part of the bridle which is placed inside a horse’s mouth and is used for steering the horse. 

Blinds - blinds attach to the bridle at eye height. Half and full blinds are permanently attached throughout a race, whereas pull-down or pull-up blinds are activated when needed. Blinds are used to help keep a horse's mind focused or with control. Pull-Up or Pull-Down Blinds may also be referred to as Sliding Blinds. 

Boring Pole - attaches from the top of the harness to the bridle and sits next to a horse’s neck. It is designed to keep a horse's head straight and help ensure it runs in a straight line.

Boots - these are worn to protect ligaments and tendons in the legs. Knee boots, Shin/Tendon are worn on the front legs. Trotting boots or scalping boots are worn on the hind legs of trotters.

Breastplate - located on the front of the horse's chest, the breastplate has attachments called traces which connect the horse to the sullky.

Bridle - is fitted to a horse’s head to control it. The Bridle is also the base for much equipment that may aid performance, such as blinds and shadow rolls.

Crupper - sits under a horse’s tail and attaches to the saddle to hold it in the correct position.

Ear Plugs / Deafeners - are sponge-like plugs that are inserted into a horse’s ear to help deafen racing noise. They also come with the addition of a hood, which covers the whole ear keeping out more noise. Earplugs/Deafeners may be fixed in place or removable. 

Girth - this attaches to the harness and sit under the stomach of the horse just behind its front legs. This helps to keep the harness in place.

Harness Saddle - will sit just back from a horse's wither and forms the base from which other gear such as the sulky and crupper are attached. 

Half-Hopples - are used on a trotter to help maintain its gait.

Hopples - are used on pacers as the primary tool to maintain the pacing gait. 

Hopple Shorteners - are inserted into a horse’s hopples to tighten the hopples up at the start of a race. The shorteners help a horse with its gait until it is balanced, settled and up to speed. Once fully in stride they are manually pulled via a cord by the driver and return to their original length.

Nasal Strip - applied across the horse's nose (as in humans) to help maintain clear nasal passages and enable greater air flow to the lungs of a horse during its race.

Nose Flap - gives protection to a horse's nose and muzzle area from flying dirt, grit or mud. Many horses do not like the kickback from racing surfaces.

Overcheck - helps to stop a horse from getting their head too low, also helps to keep a horse balanced in its gait. The overcheck runs from the bridle to the harness.

Pacifiers - is a mesh cover worn over the eyes that can help a horse to relax.

Reins - attach to the bit and run through the saddle to provide the driver with control over a horse's direction and speed.

Rein Pricker - a bar that can be attached to a rein adjacent to the neck to help keep a horse's neck straight, which, in turn helps keep the horse on a straight path.

Shadow Roll - worn on a horse's head just above its nose to restrict vision directly in front and below. The Shadow Roll is designed to stop horses from jumping shadows or marks on the race track. 

Side/Gaiting Straps - these attach to the sulky to keep a horse's body straight in relation to the sulky. This device helps with steering and gait issues.

Spreaders - are used on the front legs to help keep them apart while racing so as to stop a horse’s from striking itself in the knees or shins.

Sulky - is the vehicle the driver sits in that a horse pulls. The sulky is attached to the harness/saddle.

Tail Tie - holds the tail down against a horse's rump and ensures a horse doesn’t swish its tail and catch it over a rein.

Tongue Tie - is used to stop a horse from getting its tongue over the bit in its races and restricting its air intake.

Whip - a driver can use a whip to help encourage their horse at the finish of a race. 

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