/ The Eyes Have It /
The horse’s large, wide-set eyes are
his No. 1 sensory receiver. Horses’
distance vision is very good; their
closer vision is not as clear. The horse
has very little binocular vision (seeing
with both eyes at once), and he can
only see the ground in front of him
when his head is down. To see in the
distance, he must lift his head. He’ll
raise his head when he’s nervous so
that he can see farther away.
In training horses, we want to keep
the horse’s head low so that they
aren’t looking for something to be
afraid of. Asking the horse to lower
his head with intention can help a
horse calm down since he doesn’t see
something more to worry about.
A horse’s depth perception is not
great. He may not be able to tell the
difference between a puddle and a
deep hole, and may react to anything he sees as a change in footing.
The horse isn’t acting maliciously
when he sidesteps if he sees a
change in footing.
Horses also have vision trouble
when it comes to changes in light.
Their pupils dilate more than a
humans’. If you turn a light on in the
barn in the middle of the night, the
horse’s eyes don’t adjust quickly.
Likewise, a horse going from bright
light to a dark location can’t easily
transition—that’s what makes a trailer
a scary place to step into. He can’t see
well and may fear what could be in
there that he can’t perceive.
As we think about how a horse
takes in information—and how
different it is from how humans sense
the world—it will make us better
horsemen to understand why the
horse acts the way he does.
JULIE GOODNIGHT shares her lessons
on her RFD-TV show, Horse Master (also
online at tv.juliegoodnight.com), and through
clinics and expos. HEIDI MELOCCO (www.
whole-picture.com) is a lifelong horsewoman,
equine journalist, and photographer.
is better than ever!
Or call 800-456-6049
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