Horse racing, in particular National Hunt racing, gets a lot of stick for not being safe and not putting the horses welfare and safety first. While racing is never going to be risk free, no sport with horses ever could be, the racing industry is regularly making improvements to make racing safer and better for everyone involved. After 3 years of research, British Racing is changing fence colour across all racecourses to hopefully improve the safety of both the horses and jockeys.
Horses see colour differently to humans
We have known for a while now that horses see colour differently to us. This knowledge is used regularly in show jumping and eventing to make courses and jumps easier or more demanding. But this knowledge hasn’t really been applied in racing, until now.
The racing industry has long used markers such as take off boards to help the horse measure and read the jump. Traditionally, these markers have been orange and really stand out against the brush to our eye. But to the horse, this orange isn’t very clear at all and really blurs into the grass.
What should we be changing the fence colour to?
The 3 year long research by Exeter University was commissioned by the BHA (British Racing Authority) and was funded by the Racing Foundation. The research looked at not only how the horse sees and jumps the current orange fences, but also how their jump changed with changing fence colour.
In the above photo, in the horse’s vision you can see how much clearer the white rails are to the horse. So it isn’t surprising that the study found that white markers were not only easier for the horse to see, but also easier for the horses to jump. Other colours such as flourescent yellow also improved the horses performance but this colour faded quicker.
When will racing be changing fence colour?
Changing the fence colour from orange to white has been approved and will be rolled out steadily across all racecourses in the UK this season. Point To Point courses should all be updated by the end of the 2022/2023 season. So by this time next year, all orange fences should be gone!
You can find out more about this change in the video below.
Last Updated on 20/04/2022