by Lisa Wysocky
The old saying that the eyes are a window to a person’s soul is so true. It is even truer for when it comes to horses.
Anyone who has been around a horse for any length of time can tell a horse’s mood, just by looking at her eyes. The glare of a frustrated pony is not soon forgotten, nor is the kind, soft look of a loving mare. But when is comes to horses and humans, the eye is far more than a window.
The position of the eye on the horse’s head is important. I recently gave a clinic and a very gawky horse came in who constantly turned his head from left to right. And no wonder. Her eyes were set close to her head on a very long, narrow face. She could not see around herself as well as a horse whose eyes were set on the side of a broad face that tapered to a narrow muzzle. Once the horse’s person understood this, and she allowed her horse the liberty to see around her, rather than constantly correct her for moving her head, the dynamic between them improved dramatically.
Horses also see differently than humans do. Equine vision is complex, just like ours is, but suffice it to say that current school of thought is that horses see fewer colors and those colors are grayer than we see them. Horses also lack depth perception, as they see one image from the left eye and another from the right. Their amazing brain then puts it all together. But, just as a human who sees out of only one eye has trouble seeing how far away things are, so do horses. That’s one reason why the little plastic bag blowing across the neighbor’s field might be scary. Your horse can’t judge how far away it is.
When I look into a horse’s eye, I see eternity. I see wisdom and hardship and grace, contentment, and sometimes, near feeding time, impatience. What do you see when you look into your horse’s eye?