Do horses see colours?
Can they see a rider on their back?
We answer these questions and more.
The equine eye is the largest of all land mammals–whales, seals and the ostrich are the only other animals that have larger eyes. How well do horses see? Can they see colours, depth, motion and how well do they see in the dark? These are tricky questions to answer seeing as we can't get this information straight from the horse's mouth!
A horse's eyes are located on either side of his head which is a big advantage for them as a prey animal as it offers a wide, circular view, meaning they can detect stalking animals sneaking up from behind. This panoramic vision is 'monocular' ('mono' meaning 'one') which enables them to view their surroundings on both sides, with either eye. Their 'binocular' vision (with both eyes) is directed down their nose and not straight ahead and the horse actually has a blind spot in front of its forehead. When a horse is grazing, his vision is directed at the ground in front of him and if he is relaxed, his monocular vision will be at work. Should he see something that warrants investigation, the horse will raise his head to bring the binocular vision into force. If the object was spotted in the horse's side vision, he will turn and raise his head, or even whole body to look.