Research into equine vision leads to trial of new fence and hurdle design to further improve safety in jump racing | 10/10/2018 | Staff
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The colours deployed on hurdles and fences on British racecourses may be set to change following cutting-edge research led by the University of Exeter into the way that horses perceive colour.

In 2017 the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) and Racing Foundation commissioned – and provided funding support for – research into equine vision.

Opportunity - Project - Partnership - BHA - RSPCA

The opportunity for this project was identified by the partnership between the BHA and RSPCA, who work together on an ongoing basis to develop new ways to make hurdle and fence design safer.

The research was undertaken by Dr. Sarah Paul and Professor Martin Stevens of the University of Exeter with the aim of improving obstacle visibility for horses, therefore reducing the risk of falls and injuries for horses and jockeys.

Colour - Frames - Fence - Take-off - Boards

Presently, the colour used on hurdle frames and fence take-off boards and guard-rails is orange, based on human vision.

However, horses have reduced colour vision compared to humans, and only differentiate objects in a palette of blues and yellows.

Research - Colours - Visibility - Horses

The new research shows that other colours should be more effective in offering visibility to horses.

As a result of the research, a recommendation has been approved by the sport's Racecourse Committee that a phased trial should be carried out using fluorescent yellow for all hurdles and guard-rails, and fluorescent white for take-off boards at fences.

Colours - Visibility - Range - Conditions - Humans

These colours have been determined to maximise visibility under a wide range of conditions for both humans and horses.

The research phase of the project included testing the visibility of orange markers and other potential colours at 11 racecourses, and – in collaboration with trainer Richard Phillips – testing the behavioural responses of horses to more prominent colours in a controlled environment.

Retired - Jockey - Ian - Popham - Jockey

Retired jockey Ian Popham and conditional jockey Danny Hiskett acted as riders of the horses throughout the trial.

It has now been agreed that the next phase of the project...
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