Helping your horse to ‘see’

The gear you use and the way you ride can affect what a horse sees and how he performs.
** At Pony Club we need to be especially careful of gear that may limit the movement of the horse’s head, such as standing martingales and side reins.
** As well, a hyper-flexed neck (see below) will limit the horse’s vision.
** Horses have a field of vision which is narrow and wide, with a small blind spot to the rear. The binocular field of vision (seen by both eyes) is only 55 – 65 degrees in front of the horse compared to 120 degrees in humans.
** The anatomy of the horse’s retina also provides a visual strip to see the horizon, but not so much in the sky or on the ground. So a horse will rotate its eyeball and move its head around to adapt to these deficiencies. That is why being able to move the head freely is important to the horse.
** If your horse approaches a jump or mounted games barrel with his head pulled to the outside, for example, his vision is greatly restricted.
Horses have a natural preference to look closely at things on their left side, which is probably helped horsemanship develop with mounting, leading, bridling etc from the near (left) side.
When you walk the showjumping or cross country course, how can you plan to assist your horse see the obstacle in front of him?