ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Are Horses Color Blind?

Updated on March 15, 2014
DonnaCSmith profile image

Donna Campbell Smith is a published author, freelance writer, and photographer. She also specializes in horses.

 

The answer is yes and no. Horses are not totally colorblind, but they do not see the range of colors we see. In Horses and Horsemanship by Dr. M.E. Ensminger (1977) at the time of that writing most authorities did not think horses could see color at all. But Ensminger sited an experiment done by one of his students that indicated horses did recognize different colors. The student hung two buckets, which were different colors about ten feet apart. Food was placed in one bucket and the other was empty. The horses were allowed to approach from a distance of thirty feet. All the horses tested, “had the ability to recognize colors, although some horses learned faster than others.” In my opinion that didn’t prove they recognized colors. I wonder if their sense of smell might have helped them know which bucket had the oats. But many more tests and experiments over the years since that book was written indicate horses see more than black and white.

Are Horses Color Blind?
Are Horses Color Blind?

 

We now know that horses do see some colors, but with limitations. There are two factors called photoreceptors that allow animals to see colors: cones and rods. Rods allow them to see in low light conditions and cones are sensitive to color. Horses have just two types of cones, whereas humans have three. Reducing the number to two greatly reduces the number of colors horses see. They have no intermediate hues, but grays and pastels. They see mostly in the yellow, brown, and gray ranges.

 

There is a good graph that shows the difference between our sight and that of the horse at http://www.mini-horse.org/vision_color.html. An article titled “The Equine Color Debate” by Joanne Meszoly gives more details on how horses see color. You can find the article at http://www.equisearch.com/horses_care/health/anatomy/colorvision_012706/

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • profile image

      Kathleen 

      5 years ago

      Your awesome

    • DonnaCSmith profile imageAUTHOR

      Donna Campbell Smith 

      6 years ago from Central North Carolina

      Tina, read the article.

    • profile image

      tina 

      6 years ago

      Are horses colour blind or are they not because im doing a science fair project in this and it says that some colours horses can see and some they cannot so can u please answer quickly because i sorta need it now!!!!! :)

    • profile image

      lily 

      6 years ago

      I am also doing a science fair project and have been researching horses and what colors they can see, or cannot see. On another site i found that it si difficult for horses to distinguish between yellows and greens. Is this true?

    • DonnaCSmith profile imageAUTHOR

      Donna Campbell Smith 

      6 years ago from Central North Carolina

      sawyer, I am so glad it was helpful. Good luck!

    • profile image

      sawyer 

      6 years ago

      ok im in7th grade and doing as science fair project on this and i just want to let you know that this sight has beed=n very helpful thank you :)

    • profile image

      Scot Parker 

      7 years ago

      Afraid of pink? Well, we don't know what pink looks like to a horse. Maybe he's afraid because to him it looks like blood. -OR- maybe it's bright and looks like fire.

      ~I don't know - just a thought.

    • profile image

      beth 

      7 years ago

      My dad is a horse trainer here at Churchill Downs where the Derby is run every year and didn't know and he said this website really helped. Great Job.

    • profile image

      ZorrosPerfection 

      7 years ago

      for my science fair project i am doing what affects horses water bucket preference more color or location. I think it will be interesting. :)

    • profile image

      horsey girl 

      7 years ago

      i didn't know that horses could see in color at all until now i am very surprised.

    • profile image

      shayla whitekiller 

      8 years ago

      i love horses i would love to learn more about them to be in a rodeo for a fact i hope i can be come a cowgurl for life an ride them everyday

    • DonnaCSmith profile imageAUTHOR

      Donna Campbell Smith 

      8 years ago from Central North Carolina

      Have you tried it with the pink pole in various locations? That is really interesting. Think of what other variables there might be - position, location, patterns, the jumps before and after?

      Also, if the horse refused it once, then the rider may be doing something in anticipation such as body movement, tension, even changes in breathing that the horse is picking up on.Or it could be the color since they do see some differences in colors, shades, etc.

    • profile image

      Fiona 

      8 years ago

      Can anyone tell me why a horse that I know can go over all poles unless they are pink. If a pink pole is used he always refuses (from a long way off !)

    • profile image

      jenny 

      8 years ago

      i think horses are a great animal they remind me of a book calles the b.f.g it stans for big. friendly. giant so it reminds me of a horse because horses are big animals but they don't mean any harm

    • profile image

      softballgirl5 

      9 years ago

      I think horses are not color blind cause if they were they probably couldn't be able to tell what's food and what's not if they couldn't smell.

    • DonnaCSmith profile imageAUTHOR

      Donna Campbell Smith 

      9 years ago from Central North Carolina

      Yes, that's what my aricle reports;o)

    • profile image

      horse girl 

      9 years ago

      research show that horse are color blind but they have limited color vision

    • profile image

      Deborah 

      9 years ago

      I remember talking about that bucket experiment in 4-H.

      You should do some hubs about you 4-H clubs! I am sure there are some stories there.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)