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Your Horse's Amazing Eyes

Horses Eye

Wondering exactly what (and how) your horse sees with those big, expressive eyes? Very differently from the way you do--and the way he sees often affects the way he acts.

The structure of the horses eye is well suited to this behaviour, and it is probably a good idea to look at this a bit more closely. Specifically, we are interested in the retina - that part of the eye onto which light is focused and which encodes the light signals for use by the brain. Packed like bundled sticks onto the inner surface of the retina are cells that are receptive to light. These come in two types, rods and cones, each of which are receptive in different ways. Rods are connected to nerves in groups, giving an "overview" type of sight, but they are not colour sensitive. Cone cells are connected individually to nerves so providing a greater amount of clarity and detail, and contain the required pigments to be colour sensitive. Fully nocturnal animals that have a very high proportion of rod cells are unlikely to be able to see colour and need to rely much more on their sense of smell.

Horses Eye Horses Eye

(1) - Iris; (2) - Cornea; (3) - Anterior Chamber; (4)- Lens; (5) - Ciliary Body; (6) - Vitreous Humour; (7) - Retina; (8) - Choroid; (9) - Sclera; (10) - Optic Nerve; (11) - Optic Disc.

A general rule can be applied when comparing the vision of different animals, and that is that the higher a percentage of rod cells there are, the better will be the animals night-sight. As you might expect, the horses eye has a greater percentage of rod cells than does our own. However, there are sufficient cone cells for us to believe the horse to have colour vision, despite those people who suggest that this is not so. Bernhard Grzimek, in his article 'On the Psychology of the Horse' gives details of his research into colour recognition in horses, and offers good proof of the horse's ability to recognise colours. Ability to see colour is not the same as its importance to the animal concerned.

Horses extravagantly big eyeball magnifies everything fifty percent larger than we perceive it. That enables it to see distant objects in clearer detail than we can (an advantage for a prey animal needing to spot predators far away).

The size of the eye is another strong indication that the horse is at least partly nocturnal.

Eyes of animals

The horse has an eye that is larger than that of much larger mammals such as the elephant and the whale, and therefore sight is obviously very important to the horse. In the past some people believed that horses see everything enlarged, probably because of the size of the eye, and that it was one of the reasons horses shy. We now know that this is not so. A larger eye is better able to receive information in poor light but does not produce a bigger image. Those familiar with computer imaging using a scanner might think of it as providing better resolution

Horse can see almost 360 degrees around himself because his eyes are on the sides of his head. That's why he notices objects or movements behind him that you (with eyes on the front of your head) can't even see without turning around. But his "rear view" vision is less distinct than his vision from about his shoulder forward - so he naturally wants to skitter away from unfamiliar things behind him or turn to see them better.

Such feature many animals being potential victims of predators possess very much: it allows to notice occurrence of the enemy at once. However eye-sockets of a horse nevertheless are a little revolved forward, that allows to use and binocular sight - its corner is equal approximately to 30-70 degrees. The "Blind" zone absolutely small: the horse does not see only that is at it at once behind a nape, it is necessary a forehead and under a chin. However, to see, that there it is created, enough the slightest turn of a head.

Horse has a second blind spot, too: about 6 feet directly behind his tail. Hearing something coming from that vulnerable angle, he may swing his body to one side so he can see what's approaching - or just kick in self-defense. For that reason, if his quarters are toward you as you approach his stall, keep the door closed and quietly but firmly push them over so he can see you before you go in.

 Equine Sight

Black - "Blind" zone;
Green - Zone of binocular vision;
Yellow - Zone of monocular vision.

It has a second blind spot, too: about 6 feet directly behind his tail. Hearing something coming from that vulnerable angle, horse may swing his body to one side so it can see what's approaching - or just kick in self-defense. For that reason, if his quarters are toward you as you approach his stall, keep the door closed and quietly but firmly push them over so he can see you before you go in.

He sees most things with one eye - monocular vision - instead of with both eyes simultaneously (binocular vision - the way you see the world - which he uses for just a small area in front of his head). That's why he may spook at something that he's already walked past and reacted to once: He's seeing it for the first time - with hiso ther eye. (How to know whether he's looking with one eye or two? As he tries to focus with both eyes on something, he pricks both ears straight ahead.)

Horses has a completely different method of depth perception. Because it can't always use two eyes (binocular vision is what enables you to to perceive depth), it first gauges the relative distance of objects by comparing how big they appear with how big it knows they are. He knows humans are a certain approximate size, for instance, so a human who looks small to his monocular vision is a greater distance away. (That's why, if he sees something w ith one eye that doesn't fit his idea of what's normal, he turns his head for a more accurate binocular fix.)

When we ask a horse to go forward, with a straight body and in a straight line - the horse must trust the rider to judge whether a glimpsed object or noise coming from behind it is safe. But if the required element of trust is not present, then it is quite reasonable for the horse to try to change its line and body angle. If, when it instinctively attempts to do this, it meets resistance and discomfort from a bit, there is a clash of interests. In this instance, the evolutionary design needs to express itself so that the horse can get a good look at the problem and, if it is prevented, then some degree of anxiety is extremely likely.

Having realized how sees a horse much easier it to understand.
1. Possessing panoramic sight, horses frequently see objects which are not noticed by you. If the horse has become agitated, simply look after, where its ears are revolved - they always specify there, where also a sight.
2. ollection off! Certainly, this slogan is true in the event that you really want, that your horse saw, where goes. Researcher Elison Herman from University of Western Australia has found out, what exactly thanking " a horizontal line " in opinion of a horse the direction of binocular sight of an animal goes in a direction of a nose. Accordingly, when the horse is in strict gathering, opportunities of its review forward are strongly limited, it should rely on eyes of the horseman. A simple example: did not try to cross street with brisk movement, steadfastly examining own boots?
3. Be ready to that your horse distinguishes colors and can connect with them those or other associations. For example, you always put on a blue shirt when make certain manipulations unpleasant for a horse. It will quickly remember it and, probably, will try to avoid all and everyone who is connected to this unpleasant color. Watch perception of a horse. If it suddenly begins strange herself messages provided that it is absolutely healthy, check up, whether is not present beside color irritant. For example, if the horse well jumps, but refuses to overcome any concrete obstacle, it can be connected to its color.
4. Is not present the slightest need to panic, if darkness has overtaken you on road home. You do not see a way, but the horse, most likely, sees. Trust in it and if hook a forehead on a low branch - that it will be more likely your personal bad luck, than fault of a horse. But remember, the eye of a horse should adapt for change of illumination. Get to with bright day time light in the blacked out corridor, a horse can quite fly on a wall or a door simply because eyes have not got used yet to darkness. The same problems can arise and with call in Horse Trailer - do not overlook, being on light, the horse does not see, that there inside.
5. Let a horse to use an eye estimation. Do not deprive with itself and a horse of its natural opportunities, at overcoming obstacles do not pull an occasion, narrowing a corner of sight, allow a horse to consider all well. It not simply will do for both of you good, but also will add safety to your tandem.
6. Do not hurry up. Allow a horse time to look round on the sides. The horse is by nature curious and cautious, and it will be glad to the horseman who does not hurry it, demanding immediate decision-making. The horse comprehends some things instantly, and the some people demand recurrence.
7. Away routine! Recurrence of the same horse bothers as fatally, as well as to the person. Break the settled rules, climb down sometimes from a horse to take pleasure in dialogue with it "on the ground", let it to look round and look at you once again. Relieve the monotony of work with a horse, it is important not only for your mutual relations, but also for health of a horse, for the best development of its sight.
8. You did not reflect, what your horse in a stable, except for four walls sees? If it cannot communicate with other animals, let it even will have opportunity to look out on street. Please its eye, hang out in a horsebox or a stall multi-coloured horse toys. Let they occupy its free time, distracting from purchase of bad habits from boredom.

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© J.O.Azarenko