Do Horses See Well In The Dark?

Unlike human eyesight, the equine eye is especially adapted to seeing well in the dark—that’s when many predators would attack their wild ancestors. The equine eye is so well adapted that a normally sighted horse under a partial moon or bright stars can see as well as a human does in full daylight!

Horses require about 15 minutes for their vision to completely adjust between differently lit environments. This process be seen by stalled horses’ reactions to having the barn lights turned on in pre-dawn hours: they squint and blink repeatedly as their eyes try to adjust.

Though it may make some riders anxious, there is no reason to restrict riding to daylight hours. Open fields and lightly wooded areas can be traversed easily in the dark. Dense woods or pitch-black nights aren’t ideal, but a horse in familiar territory is just fine if the rider lets him choose his own path. Caution should be taken when leading a horse out of a brightly lit barn to ride—his eyes need time to adjust, so starting slowly and remaining on known paths at the beginning of the ride is a must.

Read more at EQUUS magazine.

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