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The Horse Eye and How A Horse Views Our World
 By Winniefield Park   •   4th Jul 2013   •   2,773 views   •   2 comments

Horses don't see the world like we do. Thereís no way to see through a horseís eyes, but science can help us understand how the various structures of the eyes work.

Many people think that animals, including horses see in shades of grey. This isn't true. Horses may not see some colors as vividly as we do, because they can only see two visible wavelengths in the color spectrum, whereas we can see three. That means their vision is similar to people who are colorblind. Your horse might not be able to distinguish orange from red. They can, however, see the green grass and the blue sky.

Horses may not be able to see color vividly, but they can see very well in low light. You've probably noticed the white 'ghost eye' in photos of horses taken in dark conditions where the eye appears white. That happens when the camera flash reflects off of a membrane at the back of the eye called the tapetum lucidum. This ability to reflect light allows horses to see better in darkness that would leave us groping for a flashlight.

The position of a horseís eyes helps it to see predators and take flight before ending up as a predatorís dinner. With the horseís eyes set on the side of the head, they have almost 360 degree vision. The only place they canít see is directly in front of, and behind them. Some people feel that when a horse jumps, they may be blind to the exact position of the obstacle as they approach it. This is because unlike our binocular vision, horses have monocular vision. The two Ďpicturesí the brain combines when the horse focuses on something ahead of it, canít combine when the horse gets too close to that object. That they canít see directly behind them is one of the reasons itís important not to surprise a horse by walking quietly up from the rear.

The retina of the horseís eye is very large, and they have good peripheral vision. They donít have to turn their head far to focus upon an object. Horses have better distance vision than we do, and are able to detect motion with greater sensitivity, which is important for spotting predators before they spot you.

Horses may have brown or blue eyes, with brown eyes being far more common. Horses with a lot of white on their faces sometimes have blue eyes. There's no difference in the vision of these horses.

Horses have protective tissue in the corner of their eye called the nictitating membrane. This helps protect the eye from irritation from dust, grass seeds and stems. You'll often see a bit of tearing and grime in this area. This can be cleared away with a soft damp sponge or cloth when you groom.

It's important to understand how horses see colors, shadows and light. When we're doing things like designing jumps, pastures or stables, loading horses on trailers or riding out on trail, it helps to understand when a horse may not be able to see, and what things look like from the horse's point of view.
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GoodMorning  
I met a horse with green eyes once. He was a paint gelding, I think he did have some white on his face. But they were very green, it was really cool.
  Jul 4, 2013  •  3,315 views
 
Shadowcat  
One of my friends had a horse that had gold color eyes. And he had a blaze on his face.
  Jul 4, 2013  •  3,280 views
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