Updated: Jan 30
Horses have eyes that are sized, placed, and shaped differently than humans. This gives the horse very different night vision, focus, blind spots, magnification, and depth perception compared to humans. Humans must understand this when working with horses as we literally see life and situations differently than a horse.
Panoramic and Spherical Vision
Horses have 357 degree vision horizontally and nearly 180 degree vision vertically, giving them panoramic vision and spherical vision.
Horses have a few blind spots; directly behind by the tail, and a narrow blind spot directly behind the head and another in front of and below the nose.
Focus and Fine Details
Horses have the ability to see fine details better than most mammals. Horses can see fine details approximately 2/3 as that of the average human. Due to the shape of the horses eye, a horse will adjust the height of its head to focus. I’m so it will raise its head to look at something in the distance and lower its head it look at something up close, but doesn’t have the ability for detailed focus like a human.
Horses and humans have three dimensional vision allowing for depth perception. The dept perception occurs in the front 65 degrees of the horse, where they have binocular vision. The remaining vision on the sides of the horse are monocular so they they can’t focus or have the depth perception in those areas. Although the horse doesn’t have the depth perception accuracy like a human, it’s forward facing eyes allow them to have the depth perception for judging height and distance.
Colour Vision Horses do see colour, however the range of colours they see is less than humans.
Horses have better night vision than humans. The horse eye magnifies the amount of light and also allows for more light absorption giving it good night vision.
The shape of the horses eye gives them 50% magnification. So something small like a bag blowing around in a bush will seem 50% larger to the horse.
Keeping in mind the horse sees all things and situations very differently than a human. A horse has very good night vision, increased magnification, with panoramic and spherical vision, less ability to focus and see colours than a human. Understanding how horses view the world provides humans with the insight to be better, safer horse people.
Roberts, Monty. From My Hands to Yours. Solvang, CA. Monty and Pat Roberts, Inc. 2002.
The Visual World of the Horse. Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, 2007, https://www.equineguelph.ca/pdf/facts/Visual%20World%20of%20the%20Horse%20Feb_07.pdf