Can horses see color?

Last Updated on March 9, 2023 by Woody Pet

Can horses see color? What do horses see?

Often, little is known about how animals view their environment. You may have wondered how horses see the world and whether they see it as we humans do. You might have also thought about the perspective of a horse and whether they see the world in black and white. Can horses see color?

Do they see color the same way that we do? Horses and humans differ in quite a number of ways and how we perceive color is one of those ways. Horses typically use their sight and vision scope to stay alive since they are prey animals. Spotting a prey animal that is ready to attack before it does is crucial to the survival of a horse.

When it comes to color recognition for a horse, they sometimes cannot recognize one color from the other. In other cases, they do. Read more to find out where the difference comes in. 

The eye of a horse

Horses have their eyes located at the sides of their heads. This position gives them a large field of vision.

Each of the horse’s eyes has approximately 145 degrees of single-eyed vision, also known as monocular vision.

The binocular vision at which both eyes overlap straight ahead is at about 80 degrees. The eye color of horses is normally either brown or blue. 

Eye color does not really affect the vision of a horse, but horses that have lighter eyes are sometimes thought to have weaker eyesight though there is no evidence to support this. During veterinary exams, the pupils of horses that have blue dilate quicker and hold dilation for longer periods.

The pupil of a horse is shaped horizontally which allows rotation of the eye as they graze. It helps them spot predators in their environment to escape being caught. Some of the signs that your horse might have vision problems and needs to have a checkup include behavior changes out of the usual, shying and spooking.

What color do horses like?

Can horses see color

Can horses see color? What color do horses like? Humans and horses do not view color the same as horses have a dichromatic vision and humans have trichromatic vision. What this means is that horses see color only in two wavelengths while humans see color in three primary wavelengths which are red, blue, and green.

For colors that are red and orange, horses would see them in shades of grey, blue and green. If you give a red apple to your horse, it may seem red to you but the horse sees it as a greenish apple. 

Horses do see some colors better than others. They are able to easily distinguish colors that are highly contrasting from each other. This is the concept that shows jumping organizers put to use when they create jumping poles in contrasting colors.

The horses are able to see the poles better and they can focus on them rather than on the rest of the environment. Solid colors are therefore preferred by horses as they offer more precision. 

The horse vision scope

Horses are prey animals, and as such, they have to have ways that allow them some advantage to escape from their prey. The vision of the horse is one of those advantages that help horses protect themselves from getting attacked. The eyes of a horse are at the sides of their heads. This helps horses in that; it gives them a horse vision scope that is at almost 360 degrees.

This vision scope allows them to see predators that may be coming at them from different sides. A fact about the eyes of a horse that also helps it stay away from predators is that they have high sensitivity to movement. When your horse is out on the plains or in the pasture, this high sensitivity will help your horse spot any movement of a predator towards it and escape. 

Can horses see forward?

Horses have a vision scope of almost 360 degrees but have eyes at the sides of their head which means they can see the area at their sides with each eye. This would then bring up the question, “Can horses see forward?”  Well, horses actually have a blind spot that makes them not see their direct forward.

This blind spot is also at the back, where they cannot see what is directly behind them. When a horse is running forward to jump a pole or a fence, as it nears the obstacle it wants to jump over, the item will disappear right before the horse jumps over it. Sometimes horses turn their heads at this time so as to get a better view of to be able to focus better.

The blind spot that is directly at the back of the horse can make your horse anxious, especially if you are riding it for the first time. A safety rule is to speak calmly to your horse at any point where you are walking or moving behind them directly. 

Can horses see color conclusion?

You now have the answer to the question, “Can horses see color” Horses do see color, but they do not see it the way that we do. One would expect them to see color better due to their large eyes and better vision at night. But the reality is, we can see and differentiate colors better than horses do.

As I mentioned, using contrasting colors when training your horse or doing other activities with it is very important. This will increase the safety of your horse, as it will be able to identify different obstacles more easily and focus better in general. Horses can see color spectrums of green and blue colors.

They however can’t recognize the color red. This just shows how different the vision of a horse is compared to humans, in terms of color. Now that you know how your horse sees, you have gained an understanding of what the world looks like, but through the eyes of a horse. 


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