New research at the University of Exeter in the UK provides a better understanding of how horses see the world, CNN reports.
The findings may help improve safety in equine sports for both horse and rider.
For instance, the top rails horses are asked to jump are often painted orange, based on what humans can see.
But research led by Martin Stevens, a professor of sensory and evolutionary ecology at the University of Exeter, shows that horses see orange as a shade of green — meaning that orange-painted fences simply blend into the grass.
Janel L. Jones, a PhD in cognitive science, writes in Equus Magazine that details humans can see from a distance of 30 feet can only be seen by a horse from 20 feet.
“A horse has to be 50 percent closer to see the same details,” she told Equus. “A 50 percent deficiency is enough for any rider to consider … even in sunshine, the horse’s view of a jump is blurry, hazy, dim, vague … all the adjectives you’d rather not ponder as you’re galloping 30 feet per second towards a big oxer that could ruin your day.”
Researchers at Exeter experimented with changing obstacles’ color to white and yellow.
This didn’t necessarily mean the horses could see the fences any better, but the different colors did change the way they jumped.
Researchers hope this study — conducted in collaboration with the British Horseracing Authority and the RSPCA — will improve the welfare and safety of horses and jockeys by reducing the risks of falls and injuries.