Why A Horse Must Trust You Before Crossing A Stream. Its All In His Eyes
By Sierra Lynch
Here’s another question from email after my post about a horse’s sense of trust (No click). And it brings out a point about a horse’s senses that you might not have realized. I certainly didn’t until I started studying horse health. But if you understand it, you’ll know why a horse might be reluctant to cross strange streams.
A few days a go you wrote about taking a horse onto a trail he’s never been on, especially water. I haven’t owned my horse for very long, but I’ve found that my horse is very hesitant to cross a stream he’s never seen. Why is it that he can cross strange land okay, but not water?” -KR, King of Prussia, PA
Great question. The answer is in your horse’s eyes. Here’s what I meanâ€¦
Because your horse’s eyes are located on the sides of his head, they have very good peripheral vision. But as good as his vision is, he does have some blind spots. When your horse stands straight with his head up, he cannot seeâ€¦
* Directly behind him
* Directly in front of his forehead (within a few feet)
* On his back just behind his withers
* Directly under his head
It’s the last one – directly under his head, that is causing your horse to be uneasy while crossing a stream.
You see, when a horse encounters trouble, his first reaction is to flee. So his life depends on his legs. He know this very well, so he’s very protective of his legs. That’s why he’s not so excited about crossing a stream he’s never seen before. He can see it coming from a distance. But once he’s right up on it, it disappears from his vision.
Your horse is reluctant to walk across something strange if he can’t examine first. He doesn’t want to jeopardize his legs if he’s not sure what he’s stepping in. So your goal is to get your horse to trust you, his leader, never to let any harm come to him. And that includes stepping into uncertainty.
Here’s a horse training exercise you can try with your horse. Get a shiny piece of gray plastic, like, say, one of those jumbo-sized garbage bags. Place it on the ground, then slowly lead your horse over it.
He’ll experience a tense moment when the bag disappears from his sight. But once he steps on it a few through it a few times, and realizes he still has all his appendages, his trust in you will increase. And that’s what you want.
So when you see a horse crossing a stream you know he’s never seen before, you can be sure he has a great sense of trust in his leader. Your goal is to get your horse to trust you as that leader. And when he does, he’ll go anywhere with you.
Yours for Better Horse Health,
About the Author: Sierra Lynch makes it easy to keep your horse healthy and happy. With over 16 years experience riding and caring for horses, Sierra will make sure your horse is always ready to ride. Visit Sierra on the web at Horse IQ