Can horses see in the dark?

Last Updated on March 9, 2023 by Woody Pet

Can horses see in the dark? How a horse see’s the world

We know that not all animals see things the way that we do. For horses, we would expect that they perceive things as we do, without taking into consideration that they actually do not have the same vision as us. Can horses see in the dark? Do they see colors the way we do? Can horses see forward?

The position and structure of the eyes of a horse are different from the eyes of a human which would therefore then bring in differences in the experience of a horse is in terms of the visual field, color, distance, and vividness.

We cannot see the world through the eyes of a horse, but scientists have been able to determine how exactly horses see by studying components of the eye of a horse. This has given humans knowledge on how exactly the vision of a horse is and we are therefore able to understand how different it differs from our vision.  

Vision from the Horse’s Perspective

The horse vision scope

Since horses are prey animals, their vision plays an important role in helping them see predators and take measures to protect themselves before they are attacked. Unlike humans who have eyes at the front of their heads, horses have eyes that are on the sides of their heads.

This position allows the horse’s vision scope to be at almost 360 degrees. This scope and the fact that the eyes of a horse are very sensitive to any form of movement allow horses to spot predators in open plains and while grazing and to take flight. 

Can horses see in the dark?

Can horses see in the dark


Horses definitely have better night vision than humans. The eye of a horse is large and has a large pupil, which allows an ample amount of light to enter. Why can horses see in the dark? Horses’ eyes have more rods compared to cones at a ratio of 20:1, unlike humans. Cones determine color vision while rods determine night vision. 

Despite their night vision is better than that of humans, horses are not able to distinguish between objects and shapes in the dark. They can still be able to move around while evading obstacles in the dark.

Also, the night vision of horses does not exceed the capabilities of a dog or a cat. Although horses have better sight than humans in the dark, they are not able to easily adjust form light that is bright to darker conditions of light. To allow the horse to adjust easily to darker environments, take it into the dark or light slowly while giving it reassurance through hand movements or your voice. 

Can horses see forward?

As mentioned previously, a horse has a vision of almost 360 degrees. They can see the surrounding area with each individual eye, but can horses see forward? Horses have blind spots that is at the front and at the back. They are not able to see a short distance that is in front of them directly and distances that are directly behind them.

One recommended safety rule when riding a horse, especially for the first time is to speak to the horse when you are moving directly behind them. When a horse is just about to jump a fence or any other obstacle, right before it takes off the obstacle will seem to disappear.

Horses can therefore find focus on an object by slightly turning their heads. When a rider is on a horse, it is important for the rider to allow the horse to move its head and neck, as thus us a way that the horse is finding a way to see things in a more clear way. 

What color do horses like?

The difference in how humans and horses see color lies in the fact that humans have a trichromatic vision while horses have dichromatic vision. Trichromatic vision means that humans are sensitive to three primary color wavelengths blue, green, and red. Dichromatic vision for horses however means that horses can only see color in two primary wavelengths.

So how do horses see color and what color do horses like? Horses see orange and red colors in green, grey, and blue shades. 

The red apple that you give to your horse therefore actually looks greenish from your horse’s perspective. This color variation in horses is important to note, especially when doing activities such as show jumping. Having jump poles in colors that contrast each other will enable horses to focus better and differentiate the poles from other things in the surrounding environment. Horses, therefore, prefer more solid colors that they can see with precision. 

How does horse vision compare to human vision?

Other than in the dark, the eyesight of a horse may not be as good as that of a human. The vision that is perfect in humans is 20/20 while studies have shown that horses may have a vision that leans towards 20/30. What this means is that what horses see at 20 feet is what a human with a vision that is normal sees at about 30 feet.

This means that human vision is significantly better than that of horses, except in low-light conditions. 

Can horses see in the dark conclusion?

Can horses see in the dark? You now have the answer to that question. A horse has a great vision in the dark, far better compared to that of humans.

In other conditions, however, our vision exceeds that of the horse and we can see color in more clear ways than a horse can. 

These facts about the vision of a horse are able to help you interact with your horse better, now that you know how horses see the world around them.

Though environments that have low light are not the best to train your horse in or practice galloping and jumping, they can provide a great way of relaxing as you take your horse for a ride on a trail that is moonlit.

A calm environment is best for this. Trust your horse to be your eyes now that you know that horses do see in the dark. 

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