Can horses see in the dark?

Answer: Yes, but they cannot see in absolute pitch darkness… 

Horses have excellent night vision. Horse eyes are large, they have a large pupil, and this allows ample amount of light to enter even in dark situations. On a night lit by a partial moon or stars, horses can see just as well as people can in full daylight. 

How can horses see in the dark? 

Horses have a membrane at the back of their eyes called the tapetum lucidum, which reflects light more efficiently than human eyes. Horse eyes also have more rods compared to cones than humans. Cones determine colour vision whilst rods determine night vision, a high proportion of rods to cones and a tapetum lucidum give horses their superior night vision. 

Why do some horses seem to be afraid of the dark? 

Although horses have better sight than humans in the dark, they are not able to easily adjust from light that is bright to darker conditions of light. Horses may shy or spook if lighting is quickly changed and they are not given adequate time to adjust. During certain tasks, such as loading into a float or entering a dark barn, a horse may become frightened simply because it cannot see adequately. Horses require approximately 15 minutes for their vision to adjust when moving between differently lighted environments. Sudden brightness takes an equal amount of adjustment time as to sudden darkness. 


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