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Can Horses See Color?

It's important you understand how your horse sees the world.

April 20, 2020

Have you ever wondered what the world looks like to your horse? Thanks to research, riders are now able to understand how their horse sees. You might be excited to know that they actually do see color. While their vision isn’t like ours, they do experience more than just black and white.

What Colors Can They See?

Your horse is able to experience blues and yellows. Unfortunately, they do not get to see vibrant colors like red and orange. Because horses have two types of cone cells in their eyes, they have what is called dichromatic color vision.

In comparison, humans and primates have three types of cone cells. This gives us trichromatic color vision. Normal humans can see red, blue, green, and yellow. We also see a wide spectrum of intermediate hues between the primary colors. It’s unlikely your horse sees any intermediate colors.

Photo by: Dr. Andy Matthews (River Valley Veterinary)

Other Factors

In addition to reduced color vision, your horse also views things a bit more blurred compared to us. They do have an edge on people in the dark though! Their eyeballs pick up light more easily because of the structure. A membrane, known as the tapetum lucidum, at the back of the eye is able to reflect light and aid their eyes in the night. It does take their eyes a bit longer to adjust to dark and light situations. You’ll notice them blinking when you turn the barn lights on in the morning. They are trying to adapt to the change.

Understanding how your horse sees the world can be helpful with training and riding. They may react differently than us because of the way our vision varies.

If you found this information helpful, check out ‘6 Common Eye Problems In Horses‘.

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