23 May 2011

It's Taken Three Months...

and today Compa had a breakthrough!

Compa has a highly dominant left eye. He tries to identify everything through that one eye. This is not a great way for a horse to go through life.

Horses were designed to use both eyes equally, but they do not see the same image in each eye, like a human does.

Allow me to explain:  Horses see two separate images - one from each eye. When the horse is holding their head at wither level, the left eye sees images from six feet in front of their forehead all the way around their left side, out to about 200 feet behind them on the left side. The same goes for the right. Everything they see on the left is completely different from what they see on the right. This occurs all the time, unless they are attempting a "far-away" focus.

Horses who use both eyes equally will see something new in one eye and then they will turn to look at the new thing with the other eye. They are comparing. They are categorizing the new thing and remembering it as something safe or unsafe. The next time they see it, they remember that it is safe and they remain calm.

When a horse is one eye dominant, the ability to compare is nonexistent. They refuse to look at the new thing with the non-dominant eye. Therefore everything is unsafe, regardless of how many times they've seen that "thing".

It gets worse...

Dominant eyed horses have trouble with anything that happens directly behind them or directly in front of them. Dominant eyed horses will panic and flee first. Equal eyed horses will investigate first, comparing what they've learned in the past to what they see happening right now.

Obviously, it is better to have the equal-eyed horse thinking through a situation, comparing and coming up with the safe conclusion. When they feel safe, the rider will be safe.

Therefore, I have been trying hard to get Compa to switch eyes, both from the rear and from the front for several months now. Most of the work has been accomplished in the round pen, where he is free to think about it and not feel pressured.

Today, Compa was able to switch eyes from behind with confidence and trust. We got both sides done several times in a row and that enabled me to do something else I've been wanting to do...

I took Compa for a trail ride around the property by himself. He negotiated the steep banks on the slough, he walked around the edges of the pond, ignoring the jumping fish and snapping turtles and he even walked through the bullrush, allowing them to brush up against his belly. He never panicked or spooked.

Each new thing he encountered, he stopped and looked at it first with his left eye and then with his right. He studied those new things and then marched forward confidently! He was amazing to ride as he worked these things out in his brain.

It was wonderful gift...


  1. Hallelujah, Compa! Fine boy! (Wise Dee.) :)

  2. That is so wonderful! Of course, I had no idea what a "dominant" eye was before reading this. I am learning SO MUCH from your blog and posts. I look forward to them! :) Thank you so much.

  3. Learning all over again! ;)

  4. Learning all over again! ;)