I Spy Through My Ponys Eye! by Nick ChapmanSo, how does my pony view things?Your pony does not see the world as you do. All members of the horse family, including ponies, wild ass and zebra, evolvedas prey animals, (they make good eating!) and so over millions of years, they havedeveloped extremely sharp senses and reactions, helping them escape any predatorswanting to eat them, including our ancestors! This means that your pony is naturallysuspicious of anything unfamiliar to him and if he is frightened or feels that his safetyis threatened, his instinct is to get away as fast as possible. If you are a horse, pony orzebra in the wild, you dont have time to stop and think; if youre slow to react youmay well end up as someones dinner! Evolution, then, has hard-wired your pony to see the world as a potentiallydangerous place and his instinct to take flight is probably as alive today as its everbeen. When we understand just how scary some things can appear to a pony, we canappreciate even more just how amazing it is that they co-operate with us as they do,and, if they trust us, will even go against their instincts to please us.Why is my ponys sight so special?
Your ponys eyesight is remarkable and is often the first sense that will alert him todanger. Just think how good he is at noticing movement in the distance, vital if youwant the advantage of a head-start when youre running for your life! This is thanks tothe size of his eye. Horses and ponies have the largest eye of all land mammals. Like other prey animals, your ponys eyes are set on the side of his head. Thisgives him a very wide field of vision which he can extend even further by bending hisneck. If there is something dangerous stalking you from behind, it pays to be able tosee it as soon as possible. Your pony does have blind spots, however. One of these is directly in front ofhim, another is directly behind. This is why the best way to approach a horse or ponyis slightly from the side, so that you he can see you clearly.How does my pony see?Primarily your pony uses what is known as monocular vision, that is, he sees adifferent picture in each eye. Like humans though, he also uses binocular vision -using both eyes to focus on something. The top part of your ponys retina, (the cells at the back of the eye whereimages are formed) is responsible for long-range sight. This is why he will raise hishead to see things in the distance. The lower part of the retina is used to see things thatare nearby and so your pony will lower his head to see something close up When your pony changes from using monocular vision to binocular vision inorder to zoom-in on something, the object can appear to jump into focus, which iswhy he might suddenly shy at something you thought he had seen. By calmly allowingyour pony time to get a good look at something that has spooked him, he will be able