Desensitising and the blind spots

As with most prey animals, the horse’s eyes are set out to the sides of its head, giving it an almost all round view. However, there are blind spots under the chin, over the head and back, and directly behind the tail. Things moving in and out of these blind spots, and particularly disappearing on one side and reappearing on the other are unsettling to most horses as they stimulate the instincts relating to attack from predators. Anxiety about these blind spots is the commonest cause of a horse not standing still for you to get on! These exercises will usually help with this problem.

Photo © ARTECAST, 2010

Start by using the halter rope in the way another horse uses its tail to swish flies from another horse’s face. Let the tail of the rope swing through the blind spots under the nose, then let it swish over the face, then into the area above the head. Start with a small “tail” and as the horse accepts it, gradually make it longer.
Then start swinging the rope further back, over the neck, then the back, moving gradually back towards the tail.

Make sure the rope touches the horse all over, and if there is an area it finds uncomfortable, work on that until it can accept it. The right hip is a very common problem area.

In action: coordinating the fields of vision