Are Horses Color Blind : Interesting Facts and Insights


Are Horses Color Blind : Interesting Facts and Insights

There is a common misconception that horses are color blind. In fact, because of their large equine eyes, they have better vision than humans do. But, this doesn’t mean that they can see every color. Here, we will discuss in detail whether horses are color blind or not and the interesting facts about them.

Horses are not color blind. They have Dichromatic vision that means their eyes have only two types of cone cells, in contrast to humans who have trichromatic vision. This is why horses can see some colors clearly, particularly, blue and green but they can’t see red.

The trichromatic vision in humans allows them to distinguish colors in three-wavelength regions. This allows us to see and distinguish all the colors clearly. However, this is not the case with horses, they can distinguish colors only in two- wavelength regions. Hence, they are incapable to distinguish the color ‘red’ just like the humans with color blindness.

Although they are not color blind there are other interesting facts related to their vision. For instance- how they see, what they see, and how well their eyes see in the darkness is still a matter of concern.

Let’s explore together and know various facts about their vision and everything you need to know about your horse’s eyes.

Horses see differently from humans, for instance, they can see completely around themselves without moving their heads. Apart from this, there are many other interesting facts about them. That can only be explained by taking a brief idea about the anatomy of the horse equine eye.

How Do Horses See?

We will explain the horse’s eye structure in detail and help you understand how horses see humans.

Eye Anatomy of Horses

Pupil Shape

Many grazing animals have their eyes on their side, in contrast to our own, which point forward. This allows them to see around easily. The extended or horizontal pupil gives them a compelling field of view that is more extensive than if they were vertically elongated. The elongated pupil

helps these prey creatures to see all around along the ground by improving the amount of light entering the eye.

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Eye Color

Horses usually have brown eyes but some of them might have different colored eyes. These include colors like blue, green, yellow, or hazel eyes. The variation in the eye color is the result of dilution.

Blind Spots

Here comes the interesting fact about horses, they have both monocular and binocular vision. This means that they look at things with just one eye sometimes and the other eye facing somewhere else and the other times they look at things with both eyes.

Each eye of a horse has around 150 degrees of monocular vision and both eyes have 90 degrees of binocular vision. This leaves the horses with two blind spots. These two blind spots don’t allow them to see directly behind them and straight in front of them.

Horses have extremely huge and best-developed eyes of all mammals. Which gives them a broad field of vision and can spot even the slightest of movements. The equine eyes allow them to clearly see humans, other animals, and objects.

In fact, they can see directly into the eyes and synchronise. They can even find humans even in the night light. The best part about horses is they can read our emotions as well by looking at facial expressions.

How Well Horses See?

Now we know that horses can see humans and other objects clearly but how well they can see is still questionable. Below we have given some facts that will explain how well horses can see or can horse discriminate fine details.

Horses are known to have sharp vision and can see well but not as much as humans do. This is because while the Ideal human vision is 20/20; horses appear to be around 20/30 to 20/60. This means humans can see the details from 30 feet however, horses need to come closer to see clearly.

This means horses cannot discriminate fine details as humans do. And they need to get around 60% much closer to see the objects. Indeed, even in bright light, a horse’s impression of a leap or barrel or cluster of weeds is hazy, flat, and obscure.

Image Credits:Horses by Wolfblur pixabay

Horse Range of Vision

An average human can see around 45 degrees on either side with 20/20 acuity. But, what about horses? What is their range of vision?

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Horses, like most flight animals, have an impressive range of monocular vision of 360 degrees. This is because of the position of their eyes on the side of their heads that makes their range of vision much broader. This allows them to see 360 degrees without moving their heads.

Undoubtedly this is much more than what a human eye can see. In fact when compared to other animals, horses usually have a lot of cells in the retinas. This allows them to have a good field of vision.

Horse vision vs. Human vision

Horse vision was often misunderstood. For many years, there have been a lot of myths and unproven claims about the way horses see. Today all those myths are going to end. Here, we will explain how horses see humans and how their vision is different from humans.

Humans have three types of cones in the eye to see and distinguish colors. On the other hand, horses have only two. This means colors are more muted for horses and they don’t see reds.

Unlike the trichromatic vision of humans, horses have a dichromatic vision that means they can only see two of three visible wavelengths. Hence, their vision is not as clear and broad as human vision.

Are Horses Near-Sighted or Farsighted?

Well, now it is quite clear that horses have a hazy vision. Let’s explore whether they are short-sighted or long sighted.

Strangely, the majority of the domestic horses, around 1/4 of them, are myopic. Domestic horses are undeniably bound to have a more clear vision of items that are very close.This is in contrast to wild horses, which are often far-located. Hence, studies have shown that the majority of horses are farsighted.

Hence, around 75% of horses are farsighted but eyesight can vary according to different factors like health, age, and so forth.

What Colors Can Horses Not see?

With just two kinds of cones in their retinas, horses have restricted color recognition than humans. But the question is what colors can a horse recognize? Or let’s say what colors horses see?

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Horses can see a few colors, yellow and blue being the best they see, yet can’t see red. According to research horses can see blue, yellow, and green from gray, however not red. Horses additionally have trouble distinguishing red from green, similar to people who experience red/green tone blindness.

This means horses do react to colors but not as well as humans do. This is because they can just see two of the three noticeable frequencies in the light range, which is somewhat similar to the way color blind people see. This implies that horse color vision is weaker than humans.

Can Horses See in the Dark?

Image credits: Horses by Michi-Nordlicht

Now that we know horses have a great range of vision and can discriminate fine details easily. But, what about their night vision? Can a horse see in darkness? What about the vision in total darkness? Let us answer these questions.

The answer is screaming yes! Horses can see in the dark, In fact, they have amazing night vision. This is because the back of their eye actually reflects white if you usually shine a flashlight. That reflective coating on the back of the eye allows them to have much better night vision than humans would ever have.

Now that we know horse eyes can perform well in darkness. Will this imply complete darkness or can horses see in complete darkness?

The answer is No! Horses cannot see in complete darkness. So, if the night is really dark your horse won’t be able to see much as in the superior light vision. Hence, they will be able to see only 20% of what they see in dim light conditions.

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