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« Overheard in the arena. | Main | Funny non-horse person quote of the day. »
Thursday
Apr262007

Horse headlights.

Horse Headlights.jpgHere's something interesting we read about on Mustang Cowboys.
We love to go on trail rides up in the mountains near our home, and more than once have stayed out just a little longer than we should have and found ourselves making our way home in the dark. We've wondered how well our horses can see, and have done some reading on the subject. Evidently they can see quite well at night.

Via Equis.com 

Even when daylight hours are short, you needn't restrict your riding times to places with full natural or artificial lighting. Horses have excellent night vision, and on a night lit by a partial moon or by bright stars alone, normally sighted horses can see as well as you do in full daylight.

Riding in the dark does make some riders queasy, but mounted horses are perfectly capable of safely negotiating open fields and lightly wooded areas after sunset. The extreme darkness of dense woods and those rare pitch-black nights isn't entirely suitable for riding, but in familiar territory your horse can navigate well enough when you allow him to choose his own path.

Horses require approximately 15 minutes for their vision to adjust when moving between differently lighted environments. Remain on familiar paths and keep to a slow pace after emerging from a brightly lighted barn for an unlighted evening ride or when turning horses out for the night.

Sudden brightness takes an equal amount of adjustment, as you notice each time you flip the barn light switch for the predawn feeding: Every occupant squints and blinks until his eyes adapt.

So, in most cases the horses can see better than we do at night, but can others see us? Saddlelights are a headlight sort of gadget that attaches to your horses breast collar. Check it out at saddlelights. We'll be giving them a try soon.

Reader Comments (1)

An interesting post. My experience is that horses do see well so long as there is some moon or star light. My concern with a light (whether a headtorch or something attached to the tack) would be if that light shone into the horse's eyes, disturbing his night vision. The lamp in the picture might be OK if it is below the neck, since the eyes may be in shadow. However, by lighting up closer areas, the horse may possibly see less further way. Only a trial will see how good this gadget is. My concern riding at night was not getting hit by branches in the woods. For simply being seen by others, a traditional stirrup light may be good, whilst there are good fluorescent items as well if you have to ride on a road. My favourite are leg bands, which move and attract attention as the horse's legs move.
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