The effect of blindfolding horses on heart rate and behaviour during handling and loading onto transport vehicles
Blindfolding is routinely used to aid the handling and loading of horses that are difficult to control. Fifteen relatively well-behaved horses of varying ages and disciplines were used to investigate the effects of blinkering and blindfolding on behaviour and heart rate in three situations:
whilst stabled, when being led in a ménage, and during loading onto a lorry. Heart rate increased in all three situations when a blindfold was used, and when animals were handled by the least experienced of three handlers. The effects of blinkering on heart rate and behaviour were small
compared with blindfolding. Overall, blindfolding appeared to make the horses more nervous and difficult to handle. However, the study does not discount the practical application that blindfolding may have for improving welfare and safety when handling certain individual horses. This work
forms the basis for further studies involving animals less accustomed or disposed to being handled.