When we want to know why horses behave in a certain manner, it may be quite helpful to have a better understanding of how horses perceive the environment around them. Because of the anatomy of their eyes, horses have a unique perspective on the world around them, which is distinct from that of humans.
Concerns have been raised about some aspects of the anatomy of horses’ eyes. It was previously believed that horses had ramping retinas, which would indicate that their eyes don’t make a full arc, bringing the retina closer to the lens. However, recent research suggests that this may not be the case. Because of this, a horse’s vision is best suited for grazing while simultaneously keeping an eye out for potential danger. However, this makes it difficult for horses to accurately judge distance and height, which is why you’ll see horses lowering their heads as they approach a jump. As they get closer to a jump, you could observe that the horses are lowering and then raising their heads in an attempt to get an accurate reading of the height of the barrier. When a horse approaches an obstacle, it will lose sight of the jump just before it is about to take off. Skilled riders are aware of this fact and allow their horses to elevate their heads before they leap.
As a result of their inability to see colours in the same way that humans do, horses see the world around them as a mosaic of different light reflections. They do, however, detect movement very immediately and are able to respond appropriately, much to the chagrin of the rider who lacks expertise. Horses that lack experience may react aggressively to any rapid action, particularly when they are in situations that are foreign to them. The majority of the time, horses will take off running when something unexpectedly enters into the periphery of their range of view.
Because of their large fields of vision, horses have just two blind spots: the area immediately in front of them and the area directly behind them. When approaching a horse from behind, it is important to communicate to the horse to ensure that he is not startled. It is a good idea to give your horse full rein while traversing tough terrain, as this will make it easier for him to locate his footing and stay balanced.
Because their eyes are so sensitive to light, horses who are young or have never been loaded into a horsebox may seem anxious when you attempt to put them inside. It takes some time for a horse’s eyes to acclimate to the reduced amount of light in a dark setting like a horsebox. The act of entering a horsebox is analogous to entering a dark cave; your horse’s reluctance to do so is likely what kept its ancestors alive, since caves were known to hold hazardous predators.
Inexperienced horse owners frequently make the mistake of believing their horse is deliberately acting out when the real reason for their horse’s behaviour is related to the his vision and the way he sees the world. Understanding your horse’s vision can help you understand why your horse reacts in various situations.