Aside from majestic leaps and fast galloping, horses also have excellent vision.
But they don’t see the world the way humans and other animals do. What’s a horse’s vision like?
Do They See Colors?
Horses and most other mammals have eyes with dichromatic color vision. That means their eyes only have two kinds of cone cells.
Because of that, horses can only see yellows and blues; everything in any other color will appear in shades of white and gray.
That’s similar to what people with red-green color blindness see. For instance, a bright red object in an average human being’s eyes will appear gray to a horse.
In contrast, human eyes have a trichromatic color vision; their eyes have three cone cell types.
Human beings can see the four elementary colors green, red, yellow, and blue, and the several shades between them are called intermediary shades.
Since horse eyes can only recognize yellow and blue, they cant see the intermediary hues either.
How Good Is a Horse’s Eyesight?
Even if horses can only see two colors, they have a clear vision.
If an average person’s vision is 20/20, an average horse’s is 20/30. This means the horse can see something 20 feet away in the same detail that a person can see at a 30-foot distance.
With that vision, a horse can see things well, even at a great distance. The image they see may be grainier the farther the object is, but it isn’t blurred.
Horses have a heightened awareness of their surroundings and are flighty since they’re vulnerable to predators in the wild.
Their vision helps them escape these dangerous creatures ahead of time. Their eyes are designed to scan the horizon for any predators coming their way.
That’s why sometimes, horses get startled in the middle of a journey. They see something unfamiliar far ahead, and they want to make sure it’s not planning to have them for a meal.
At night, horses’ eyes pick up more light and see better than humans do. They take more time adjusting to rapid light level changes, though.
How Should I Train My Horse?
Since a clear vision is one of a horse’s strengths, take the horse’s limited ability to recognize colors into perspective. Because it sees its surroundings differently from how you would, the horse may react to what it sees in a way you don’t expect.
When setting up a running track or obstacles, paint jump rails in two or more colors with a strong contrast against the surrounding landscape, especially the ground under the challenges.
This will help the horse assess an obstacle better as it approaches. Don’t put yellow and green close to each other, for instance. Your horse can’t quickly tell one color from the other.
Consider Your Horses Point of View
Horses’ vision helps them survive the dangers of the wild and overcome obstacles in races and travels.
Understanding how your horse sees the world will help you train your horse better and have a smooth ride.
Ask your trusted vet for advice in keeping your horse’s vision crystal clear.