Horses are seen as majestic creatures to most. At the same time most people don’t understand much about them. Their size intimidates people and their movements are quite different from those of companion animals such as dogs and cats.
To understand how horses think you must think about the main difference between your cat or dog and a horse. Cats and dogs are predators meaning in the wild they would hunt down other animals to kill and eat. Horses are prey meaning they are the animals that are killed and eaten. They are flight animals. This puts them on high alert at all times. Although the majority of horses you will encounter in a public situation are trained to be calm we cannot control something with its own mind and thought process.
As prey animals, horses need to be able to see around them at all times. Their eyes are located on the sides on their head in order to give each eye the ability to see almost 180 degrees around that side. Horses do have “blind spots” which is where the sight of each eye does not connect and they cannot see a thing; directly behind a horse, at its tail, and directly in front of its face. They are able to see in front of them but if you were to hover your hand an inch off of their face between their eyes they will not see it.
This blind spot does not tend to startle a horse seeing as they would be able to see the object coming into their blind spot before it was out of sight. Their rear blind spot is a problem. Just like humans they are able to move their eyes together and look around. If they are looking to one side and something comes up from the other side it will surprise them. Horses don’t tend to fair well with surprises seeing as in the wild if a wolf was to sneak up and “surprise” them it usually doesn’t end well for the horse.
With the idea of blind spots in your mind think about horses with blinkers or blinders on, the carriage horses. Their sight has now been compromised to keep them from trying to run away from the horse-eating contraption that is following very closely on their heels! You will see carriage horses on the street turning their heads around to see who is talking to them or where that car horn came from since they can no longer see behind.