Yep, it’s true: horses can read our facial expressions (and they don’t always like what they see).

horse eye

I encourage everyone to read this good short article in The Atlantic.  I’ve put the link at the end of this post.

The author describes the “unlikely pairing of wily predator and one-ton prey” (must be a REALLY big horse), and I think about this on a daily basis, because it’s the crux of why things do and don’t work with horses.  My horse knows me better than I know myself a lot of the time.  And I try to see the world through her eyes.  NOTHING a horse ever does is wrong–their behaviors are a consequence of innate characteristics along with environment.  We program so many undesirable patterns into our horses (e.g., jigging on a trail ride, or fighting the bit, or refusing to go, or refusing to stop)–and then we get mad at them for doing these things that we created.  Just look around next time you’re at your barn, or wherever you ride, and you’ll see what I mean.

The article talks about horse vision.  Did you know that horses can see much better than dogs can, except for the blind spots caused by their eye position?  And the thing I found most interesting is that when confronted by a human with an angry face, horses will look at that person out of their left eye, thus engaging the right side of their brain, the side where fear-provoking stimulus is processed.  Dogs do this, too.  So, the common vernacular “going right-brained” has some scientific backup to it.

I’m going to start keeping tabs with my own horse on her reactions related to this stuff.

It’s a good read.


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