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The five senses of the horse

How is the horse different from us?


If the field of vision of the horse is almost panoramic, it nevertheless presents several blind zones. Thus, the horse does not see immediately in front of him, over a distance of up to 2 meters, or behind, in the extension of his body.
Very sensitive to contrasts, it needs long minutes of adaptation during sudden changes in light intensity but then sees perfectly in the dark and at night. His vision of colors also seems different from ours.

The smell

In addition to sniffing with its nostrils, the horse has, like many other animals, a specialized organ called the vomeronasal or Jacobson organ. It allows him to analyze the molecules emitted by his congeners, pheromones, contained for example in the urine of mares in heat.


While great attention is paid to the horse's food, we paradoxically know very little about its taste abilities. One thing is certain, he has, like the Man, 4 types of taste buds concentrated on the tongue which allow him to distinguish sweet, salty, bitter and acid.


The hearing field of the horse is much greater than ours since it hears ultrasound, that is to say very sharp sounds that Man does not perceive. Conversely, the latter is sensitive to serious sounds, or low frequency, inaudible to the horse.

Our voice is, luckily, one of the ranges of sound that the horse hears best.


Two anatomical features make the horse very sensitive to touch: the vibrissae and the skin muscles, which quiver by reflex when an insect lands on its skin. He nevertheless enjoys scratching with his teeth or hooves when something itches him. 

Texts by Déborah Bardou and Hélène Roche, ethologists - Photos Hélène Roche