The Eye of the Horse

Theories and controversies about how a horse percieves its world have existed forever. The main questions are:

Does a horse bring a visual image into focus using the eye’s lens, as we do, or by moving his head?

Does a horse see color?

Do horses suffer from visual defects such as nearsightedness or farsightedness that may affect performance?

Whatever the real answers, it is clear that normal vision is very important to a horse’s daily life. As a mere matter of beauty, a sound, full, clear, intelligent eye is something to be highly valued in our equine friend and is often the sign of a champion.

At a glance

–the equine eye is the largest globe of all land mammals
–it is possible that horses see objects 50% larger than humans do, but no one knows for sure…
–the horse has an amazing 350 degrees of total visual field
–it is thought that horses may raise or lower their heads to focus on objects

Notice the horses ears and you will see which direction he is focusing on. An aware rider will always be alert to the horses ears and the direction the horse is focused.

Horses are thought to be color blind, however, in some tests it appears as if they respond best to yellow, followed by green and blue. Red is difficult to see. Interestingly, the color of the most frequently knocked down rails is yellow.

It is important to be aware of your horses eyes, and treat them as soon as you see any abnormality such as squinting, tearing, greater sensitivity to light, or cloudiness. Most important, never treat your horses eye with an old eye cream in your medicine chest unless you are absolutely certain of the condition. The wrong cream can create ulcers and lead to blindness.