Home Horse Care Horse Vision: A Breakdown Of How Horses See The World

Horse Vision: A Breakdown Of How Horses See The World

by ihearthorses

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Once you learn about how your horse’s vision works and how they see, you will be in awe by how much trust they have in us!

Horses have the largest eye of any land mammal, but that doesn’t mean they have the best sight. You may be surprised to learn the limits of their eyesight.

A horse looking back while harnessed up.

Since horses are a prey animal, they can see almost 360 degrees. They have one blind spot that is directly behind them at the base of their tail. If they move their head slightly around, they can then see in that blind spot. This is why horses can so accurately kick something that walks behind them and why you would always make sure you horse knows it’s you back there!

Horse in a meadow at sunrise near Meinier, Geneva. Switzerland.

Horses have limited color vision. They have dichromatic vision, whereas we have trichromic, which means we are able to see all three wavelengths of visible light.

Image source: Evergreen.edu

Image source: Evergreen.edu

Research suggests that horses see color in the same way a human who is red-green colorblind probably does. In the below picture, a non-color blind human sees a green and red apple. The bottom row is how a horse likely sees the same apples.

Image source: Wikimedia

Image source: Wikimedia

What’s really incredible is that horses cannot quite focus on things the way we do. For example, we can focus close in when we are reading a book and then far away to drive or watch a movie. Horse’s have hardly any “accommodation,” as it is called, so they cannot do this. Additionally, horses have little to no depth perception.

Black and white close up of horses eye

Consider these facts when you think about horses jumping, for example. According to a new story on Fox News, this is what a jump looks like to a horse versus his rider from just 2 meters away (approx. 6 ½ feet):


At 3 meters away, the jump loses focus and by that 2 meter mark, the horse cannot judge the distance to the jump, or even see it accurately.

Watch the full news story below to see more about how a horse’s vision affects how she sees a jump course:

Pretty amazing that they jump at all, isn’t it? As the reporter says, it’s proof that a strong, trusting bond is needed between horse and rider. After all, they can’t even see what you are asking them to do. Same goes for gaming events, cow roping, and even of the other countless sports we ask of our horse – or even something as simple as side passing up to a gate to open it.

Did we miss any interesting facts about horse vision that you know? Let us know in the comments below!

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