Why is one horse spookier/nervous than another? the answer could be in this study undertaken by the American College of Veterinary Ophthalmologists last year (2014).
This is a start! One could then also look at this aspect when buying a horse for performance as well as conformation etc.
Maybe this will explain a lot of temperament and training issues?
I am so grateful for this study as I have always believed that eyesight in different horses was one of the reasons that one horse was more nervous than another. My Warmblood Toba is always looking off into the distance and appears to see things far away that other horses do not notice. Yet, he is quite nervous and spooky even in places he has been ridden in time and time again…I always wondered if he had an eyesight problem!
This study has shown that only 68.2% of horses/ponies have normal vision in both eyes. (Emmetropia)
54% had Hyperopia (long sighted) – can see things well far away, but everything up close is blurry
46% had Myopia (short sighted) – cannot see things far away, but everything up close is clear.
In 30.3% of the studied horses Anisometropia was found (Each eye can being nearsighted (myopia), or farsighted (hyperopia) or a combination of both)
THE most interesting thing that was discovered with this study was that the refractive state was the only factor that affected certain breeds of horse/pony – and IN THE LEFT EYE ONLY (P<0.05).
The Thoroughbred and Thoroughbred crosses have a tendency towards Myopia, and the Warmbloods/ Draft Horses a tendency towards Hyperopia. (Toba is a Hannoverian Warmblood)
This is really food for thought.
Imagine in the future – horses getting their eyes tested and fitted with contact lenses?  🙂  Kerryn

Images are of Toba – Always on ‘High Alert’ 🙂



1.American College of Veterinary Ophthalmologists (2014)
‘A retinoscopic survey of 333 horses and ponies in the UK
Bracun A1, Ellis AD, Hall C (Author information)

2. The Horse. com

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