Protecting horse and rider by understanding how they see
Participation in equestrian sport is a high-risk activity for both horse and rider. A minor visual misjudgement by either can result in falls, injuries, and even fatalities. The differences between what horses and humans can see are inadequately accounted for when ensuring obstacles are visible to the horse.
Addressing the Challenge
Researching equine vision and human gaze behaviour
Nottingham Trent University (NTU) has carried out extensive research on equine vision. This includes analysing colour vision in the horse, accommodation, visual adaption, and the impact that scotopic and photopic conditions have on behaviour.
Researchers have investigated human gaze behaviour in show jumping, and have tested the use of mobile eyetracking equipment on Olympic show jump rider Tim Stockdale. More recently, the equipment has been trialled for use in other equestrian disciplines, including dressage and the cross-country phase of eventing. There are further plans to test its use in horse racing.
The expertise behind the research
This research is being led by Dr Carol Hall, whose expertise lies in equitation science, equine perception, equine emotion, and equine welfare. Professor David Crundall of NTU’s Psychology department is the main collaborator on this research, contributing expertise in human eye-tracking and hazard perception.
Making a Difference
Improving the safety of horses and humans
A comparative approach to studying horse and human vision will help to understand how various factors, such as light levels, can affect the visibility of objects and subsequently influence behaviour. This will enable the design of better facilities and equipment, leading in turn to safer conditions for both horse and rider.