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Horse Vision
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iceryder
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 Posted: Sat Aug 18th, 2007 03:48 pm
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I noticed a website that talks about the horse's vision.   Although it is in German, basically it is saying that what a horse sees with it's right eye is stored in the left side of it's brain and vice versa.

It goes on to mention that this is the reason horses have to learn the same thing from both sides, as the sides of the brain don't communicate and share well.

The article places responsibility of one eye in taking care of watching for problems, and the other eye in keeping track of possible escape routes.

It brings up and shows images of training a horse with blue and yellow colors to help coordinate the eyes in processing information, which is called Dual Activation.

Any comments on this:

http://www.tb-trainingstable.de/Dual-Aktivierung.htm


Helen
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 Posted: Sun Aug 19th, 2007 12:19 am
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I have no idea about the right eye-left brain business, but I have wondered in the past if what I have been taught about horses needing to learn things on both sides was correct.

DrDeb
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 Posted: Sun Aug 19th, 2007 03:43 am
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Dear Ice and Helen -- the stuff you have been reading, Ice, is both misunderstood and mis-applied.

ALL mammals have at least partial cross-wiring of the eyes to the brain. In other words, at least some of the input signal from the left eye crosses over at the optic chiasma and is sent to the right optic lobe of the brain -- and vice-versa for the right eye.

This makes absolutely no difference whatsoever in the quality of a horse's vision, or of your own, unless either one eye is damaged or part of the brain or optic nerves is damaged. If this happens, then part of the input signal, or else part of the brain's ability to interpret that signal, is "deleted". When the "deletion" involves the globe of the eye or the optic nerve, we call it "blindness". When it involves the brain's ability to interpret the signal, it is given a variety of names -- if you want to read more about this, read Oliver Sacks M.D.'s "A Leg to Stand On", "The Man Who Mistook his Wife for a Hat", and "Awakenings".

The crossing-over of the optic nerves also has absolutely nothing to do with the so-called "left and right brain processing" abilities. The best book on "left vs. right brain processing" for you to read is "Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain". This book correctly explains that the left side of the brain -- in most people -- is better at nonverbal processing, spatial, artistic, and (in some senses) musical perception; while the right side of the brain is -- in most people -- better at speech, logic, mathematics, and linear processing.

But "better at" does not equate to "exclusive center for". Some of each type of processing goes on in both sides of the brain.

And "in most people" does not mean "in all people." Some people -- I happen to be one of them -- process almost equally on both sides, and process some normally right-sided functions on the left side, and vice-versa.

And further, "in most PEOPLE" does not equate to "in horses". We really do not know how horses' brains work in the sense you are discussing. Nor is it anything like clear what "musical sense", "mathematical reasoning", or "spatial vs. linear processing" would actually mean in a horse or in any other animal for that matter.

As to horses having to learn things first on one side, then on the other side: this is true to a variable extent in different horses. It is due to a part of the brain called the corpus callosum, which connects the left and right hemispheres. The corpus callosum is like a highway -- a "traffic" of neurological signals passes constantly in both directions, like cars on a two-lane highway. It should be significant for you to hear that traffic IS normally passing on this highway -- that means that there IS in fact always communication in both directions between the brain hemispheres. HOwever, the question is how fast the traffic can pass.

While what I've just said here about the corpus callosum is well known, it is equally well known that the "highway" is broadened by certain kinds of experiences that either a person or a horse might undergo. And the two primary "highway widening" kinds of experience -- that greatly increase the speed and richness of communication between the brain hemispheres -- are education and creative play.

These are two things that we encourage you to learn how to provide for your horse. The simplest example of this is our encouragement to you to do everything on both sides of him -- i.e. mount from either side, saddle him from either side, halter and bridle him from either side, make sure when you ride him that you bend and circle as much to the right as to the left. Also that you change eyes with the flag or rope when you work with him both from the ground and from the saddle. These are very concrete situations that obviously and directly apply.

But so does every other kind of educational experience. This is a basic and large reason, for example, for teaching the horse what are called "tricks". But also why it's important to ask your horse what he'd like to do when it is safe to do that, and then let him show you a few things. Or teach him to roll the rubber ball with his nose, but then also after he has learned that or after he has learned to enjoy mounting the circus drum, you see to it that you turn him loose in the area where the ball is or where the drum is, so that he has an opportunity to explore these objects on his own and creatively play with them.

Every time you teach a horse a trick, typically you double the speed with which he will learn the next trick. When you totally clear up spooky spots (i.e. for example "ear shy"), or when you teach him to enter and then stand quietly in the horse trailer and then quietly step backwards out of there, then you are increasing the horse's awareness by multiplying the number of nerve fibers that carry messages across the corpus callosum, i.e. you're going from a two-lane to an eight-lane highway.

This would be an important goal I would think. It is not correct, and even more so it is not profitable, to characterize any person, or any horse, as "right brained" or "left brained". What we want is "whole brained".

Best wishes -- Dr. Deb

Helen
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 Posted: Sun Aug 19th, 2007 04:45 am
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Thanks so much Dr Deb, that's exactly what I was looking for, and it makes perfect sense.

Joe
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 Posted: Mon Aug 20th, 2007 01:04 pm
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Makes good sense to me.  As a diagnosed dyslectic who has a graduate degree and a post graduate professional certification and writes and speaks a fair amount as part of my living, I can attest that humans have or develop alternate channels, and process on both sides, although in may not be easy to get there.

That said, what about dominance (sidedness) in horses?  Also, is it possible for horses to have the perceptual or proessing confustion that we broadly call dyslexia in humans?

Joe

DrDeb
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 Posted: Tue Aug 21st, 2007 06:41 pm
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Joe, this is a question I am asked fairly frequently. We need to distinguish here between three things:

(1) "Left brain vs. right brain research" -- this is discussed in the responses higher up in this thread. Left-brain functions or tendencies (vs. right-brain functions or tendencies) have nothing whatsoever to do with left or right HANDEDNESS.

(2) Brain-based abilities or disabilities -- arise from a multiplicity of causes, including imbalances in brain/neurological chemistry, the ability of brain cells to uptake nutrients and/or grow to make connections with other brain cells, inherited anatomical configuration, and training and effort made by the individual. And none of those either have anything to do with left vs. right handedness....indeed, they have other effects. So, Joe, you're dyslexic but I hardly ever see you make a spelling or grammatical error -- and by your own message, you imply that this is due to training and effort. You can also (and I have enjoyed) training that might make the condition worse (if the person didn't have good control over it): tahw a lufituaeb yad ti si! So you can call me "sick" or "talented" -- your call! And I am sure the same is true of every dyslexic/cixelsyd. Can horses have dyslexia? Sure. Does it matter to them? Not so much as to us, because they're not called upon to read, and as you must know, Joe, all the other stuff can be readily compensated by experience, i.e., I am sure you got it worked out VERY early which way the baseball was moving, which side the gearshift is on, which way the traffic arrows mean for you to turn on a one-way street.

(3) Finally, there is left vs. right handedness. This is tied up ultimately with brain and spinal cord anatomy. It's a question of gross and fine muscular coordination, and of eye to hand (or eye to hoof) coordination. All horses are "sided" and "handed". This shows up when they go to step up into the horse trailer or onto the circus drum; they will typically lead with the same foot each time. But note, the foot they lead with will be the foot on the side they LEAST prefer; what they are always doing is getting ready to flee. So they lead with the foot they DON'T want to gallop off on, i.e., if they put the right foot forward, then that horse prefers the left lead and the left bend. This is because, in a quadruped, the "lead" is actually most dependent upon the hind limb. To start on a left lead, the body must be right-weighted behind, which not only anchors the thrust properly, but frees up the left pair of legs to swing forward or "lead".

Cheers -- Dr. Deb

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 Posted: Tue Aug 21st, 2007 09:16 pm
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Another interesting thing about a horse's eye is the shape of the center of its eye, where light is emitted.  The center of their eye is horizontal  (_________) and looks like a black bar.   Things moving side-to-side of their head are kept in their image longer, but things going up-and-down, or vertical, (|) are kept in their vision very briefly.  A horse will react sooner to moving objects going up and down rather than objects moving side to side.  The time element to assess the object is greately reduced going up and down, thus their prey instincts become stronger and they think of fleeing.  Like a lion pouncing on them from above off a boulder!  This is good to know during training for desentizing.

Phernet


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 Posted: Tue Aug 21st, 2007 10:25 pm
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Dr. Deb,

would you please be a little more specific about the colors a horse can actually see? Are blue and yellow the most dominant colors? Does the rest really appear to the horse in gray shades? I believe this could greatly help anyone who needs to balance out the data transfer "Autobahn" while training and improving the speed of new data transfers. There are lots of theories out there; your opinion is greatly appreciated to help clarify the confusion!

Thank you in advance,

Barbara

DrDeb
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 Posted: Wed Aug 22nd, 2007 12:37 am
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Dear Folks -- It seems that many of you are unaware that EQUUS Magazine has run many articles over the years on the subject of horse vision. The most recent one was only a couple of months ago. My advice to everybody is to go subscribe -- it's cheap at around $25 per year, very well edited, and packed every month with information regarding equine medicine and how the horse's body works. Call 1-301-977-3900 and press the "0" button when the recording comes on to obtain a real live human person. She will then direct you to the subscription number or department. Or you can go to their website at http://www.equusmagazine.com.

Equus often runs horse-training stuff that I couldn't use -- as well as stuff that I do recommend, such as articles by Josh Nichol and, in earlier years, by Harry Whitney, or my recent one on Ray Hunt. But EQUUS' medical advice is only exceeded by "The Horse" -- the stuff in "The Horse" (latest incarnation of "The Blood Horse" combined with the old "Modern Horse Breeding") is usually more technical than what they offer you in EQUUS. These are the only two magazines I'd recommend to horse owners to obtain information about how the horse's body works, and it's the main topic EQUUS was founded on 25 years ago.

As to colors, yes, the yellow-green-blue part of the spectrum seems to be what horses perceive best.

And as to the horizontal pupil -- it's not where light is Emitted, it's where it is ADmitted into the eye. (Light being "emitted" from the eye would be light shining out of the horse's eyes, you know, like Artoo Deetoo on steroids). So it is just their pupil, just like our pupil in all respects except shape; it is a clear "window" that admits light into the eye. Movement is processed not by this window, but by the retina on the rear inner surface of the globe of the eye, and by the brain, where the signals or "pattern" received on the retina are processed. Movement is processed equally well and equally fast whether the object the horse is looking at is moving up and down or sideways, just as you would perceive movement going up and down equally efficiently whether you saw it through a round window or a horizontal one. What the horizontal pupil does do is give the animal a "wide screen" view of the horizon. Goats, cattle, antelopes, deer, and other hoofed animals that live in wide-open environments all have horizontal pupils.

As to "desensitization" training: we heavily frown on that here. We NEVER want to practice "desensitization", and your mentioning this represents another muddlement. To "desensitize" means "to make numb". Is that what you really wanted to do with your horse? Yet I think the very use of the term implies that the person is not merely confused about the precise dictionary meaning of words, but has, in fact, not really thought the matter through. You NEVER want to desensitize. You want to educate. This is the main reason for the existence of this Forum: so that we can help you learn how to do that.

So quit worrying, please, about whether the horse's eyes work the same as yours. Very rarely do these pseudo-physiological "explanations" of why the horse shies, why he runs away, etc., actually have any truth in them. Neither do the pseudo-evolutionary "explanations" of why he reacts as a prey species because the cougar jumps on him, etc., actually have any relevance to your real life. Your horse lives at your house now, or maybe he goes on a trailride in the state park -- there are no cougars there.

So how your horse's eyes work, for all the purposes that you will have with your horse, is "plenty well enough" -- unless your vet tells you otherwise. What you want to concern yourself with, and what you want to focus on, is the next fun thing that you are going to teach your horse how to do. You'll show him how to do it, and I promise you, he will perceive (somehow or other) what you're trying to get across to him, and then YOU will perceive (somehow or other) what your horse's response to that was. This is the dialogue, this is the purpose. The horse possesses and uses many more senses than the "ordinary" five, and so do you. Please explore some of those -- it will be of greater profit to you.

Best wishes -- Dr. Deb

 

Criollolover
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 Posted: Wed Aug 22nd, 2007 06:25 am
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Thank you, for your reply.

Since I'm new here, where can I get the information you are mentioning? For your better understanding, I was referred to this forum - only - and have no knowledge about your training but would like to find out more.

Thank you!

Barbara

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 Posted: Wed Aug 22nd, 2007 09:39 am
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I'll step in here to strongly recommend The Birdie Book, Dr Deb's first (?) book that sets out the basics of the whole philosophy (I guess that's what you'd call it) that is in place here. I have to say that it really clears up a good deal - not in terms of a 'do this to your horse and he will be good!' but more in teaching how to change your relationship with your horse through observation and changed priorities.
I'm only about a quarter of the way through, but it's great reading.

DrDeb
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 Posted: Thu Aug 23rd, 2007 01:48 am
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Barbara, they are not "my" training methods; what I teach and advocate is the best that humankind has been able to come up with in relationship with horses. Also, they are not "methods", but rather, an attitude and approach to horsemanship.

There are many aspects to this. Gaining master-level expertise and abilities is the goal. Some of it will relate to learning the anatomy and body-functioning of the horse -- I mean really learning what really happens, what the shape of things really is. Some of it relates to techniques, so that you begin to realize where the mis-communications between you and your horse have been in the past, and can go past those to better understanding each other, being more reliable and trustworthy each to the other. And some of it relates to what we call "deep work", which is when the communication between you gets to the place where you need to do very little in order to make yourself clear to your horse, and he gets to where he wants to come from the other side to help you out.

Since you are new to this space and have asked for direction, I'll just mention you can click on the "Home Page" hotlink at the top of this page and then when you get there, use the buttons on the lefthand side to go to "Knowledge Base." The two papers in "Knowledge Base" that you will want to read and study first are "Lessons from Woody" and "True Collection." They are free downloads.

You'll also want to read "Who's Built Best to Ride" and "Ranger".

If you have an interest in horse breed history, then you can read the other papers that are there. Our Webmaster also informs me that he'll have time to get another paper up in "Knowledge Base" sometime in the near future, and this one, too, deals with the history of the horse. But the first four that I mentioned are the standard material I want all horsemanship students to peruse.

Helen mentioned "The Birdie Book" -- this is the book that focuses most on deep work. It's over 500 pages long (a PDF document on CD-Rom, like all our recent publications), and costs $49.95 through our bookstore.

You might also like to look over the descriptions of the content of all the "Inner Horseman" back issues -- they all contain at least some material on "deep work", the earlier issues perhaps having more of it, but I also put quite a bit into the 2007 issues.

There are also the "Audio Dialogues in Horsemanship", which are audio CD's that you can listen to at home or in your car when you're commuting or travelling. They are 100% about horsemanship issues, stuff that every horse owner meets at some point along the journey. Some of them are hilarious, some quite serious, all I think rather useful and good to hear and contemplate.

And then there is this Forum -- whose whole purpose, as I mentioned, is to give you an opportunity to discuss things that are on your mind with respect to your horses. Especially now that we are no longer publishing "The Inner Horseman", the Forum has stepped into a place of special importance.

We certainly do hope to see you posting here again, and that these resources will be of assistance. -- Dr. Deb

 

Joe
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 Posted: Fri Aug 24th, 2007 02:21 am
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Dr. Deb wrote:

"I am sure you got it worked out VERY early which way the baseball was moving, which side the gearshift is on, which way the traffic arrows mean for you to turn on a one-way street."

Oh indeed, but military school was the Devil itself when it came to left turns and right turns at drill.  Have you ever heard someone say, "no, your OTHER left," or "your military right?"  They said other things, too.

This is probably too far off topic, but there is a fair amount of research that suggests that in humans anyway, there is some link between dominance/cross dominance and certain forms of dyslexia (and I have already said more than I know).

Joe

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 Posted: Fri Aug 24th, 2007 02:31 am
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Dr. Deb wrote:

"The horse possesses and uses many more senses than the "ordinary" five, and so do you."


That is one of the many interesting things to observe about them.  For example they can percieve en electric field from a distance.  Mine can always tell if the fence charger is on just by poking their noses to about 4 or 5 inches away.  I don't know if changes in voltage or current wolld alter the range of perception.  Another related question wqould be whether or not they can detect magnetism.

Joe

DrDeb
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 Posted: Fri Aug 24th, 2007 05:16 am
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Yes, Joe, that's been my observation also, that they can perceive electrical fields. The field thrown out by an electrified wire is actually a sheet that extends up and down from the wire from one to a dozen or more feet, depending upon the strength of the voltage. This is why you rarely observe a horse try to jump a strongly-charged electric fence; so far as the horse perceives the barrier, it is too high for him to jump. However, when desperate, they will run right through a single-wire 'hot fence' -- I mean one of those temporary-type jobs that people put up with one or a few strands of either electrified roundwire, or white tape. Or, equally, they will run through a board fence that has an electrified wire strung on the inside. Any horse -- I mean down to 12 hands -- can easily jump a five-foot pasture fence, and most pasture fences are not in fact that high. They can jump over them and they will, if they get motivated enough. But when the fence is electrified they don't even try to jump it, but rather they "punch through" it, treating it as if it were a thin, flexible sheet (in the case of a hotwire fence) or as if it were a sheet reinforced with boards (in the case of the board fence with electric wire on the inside).

Likewise, many horses that I have ridden out on trails in various parts of the country, if the trail passes under high-tension wires or even just ordinary high-voltage wires, will hesitate to go under the wires. Again I believe this is because they perceive the electrical field, and I suppose they wonder if it's going to hurt or sting like they know it would if they were to "punch through" the hotwire field (they don't necessarily realize that they have to touch the wire itself to get stung, not the field).

I also think that horses perceive the auras of people, other horses, and other animals, and I think they rely upon this perception more often than their actual physical vision. Only when something really strange is about a person they already know, i.e. you come in your Renaissance Festival costume with the plumes in the cap or a helmet that covers your head -- you look wierd enough, and you come close enough, and then they will raise their head pretty high and roll their eyes down so that they can get you in focus with their physical vision. Otherwise, if you're your normal self, they know who you are by smell and hearing of course, but also, they know you've arrived at the barn before you actually arrive. My cats do this too (confirmed by synchronizing watches with housemates) -- Atrox used to know exactly the time I'd leave work at the Smithsonian, and he would signal this by going to sit by the door and wait for me and not get up or quit staring at the door until I'd come in. It was about a half-hour commute, and he'd wait all that time. And when Atrox died, then Eeyore took over doing the same thing. And have you ever gone to the barn, even at some odd hour, and felt that your horse was surprised to see you? Don't they always look at you as if to say, 'well, what took you so long' --?

Horses do not like surprises, I think, so they use ALL their senses in a way that we highly cultured and educated ones, who live in air-conditioned houses and hardly ever sleep outside at night, do not.

Cheers -- Dr. Deb


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