Because horses are prey animals, they have bi-lateral vision, which helps them to protect themselves from predators. Unlike humans, whose eyes work together, horse vision was designed for horses to see things out of each eye in distinct ways.
If you think about how horses function in the wild, you will realize that this is exactly what they would need to survive…to be able to see danger approaching from either side or from both sides at once.
Humans tend to be creatures of habit and ritual, and one of the rituals that has evolved in modern horsemanship is to do things from the left side of the horse. People generally approach from the left, put the halter on from the left, lead from the left, saddle from the left, bridle from the left, mount from the left, dismount from the left, unsaddle from the left, and unbridle from the left. Unwittingly, what this does is cause the horse to become one-sided.
In the Parelli method of natural horsemanship, we take our cues from horse behavior in the natural world. When we start with young horses in Parelli horse training, we do everything from both sides so the horses do not become one sided. When we get mature horses that are already one-sided, we do more from the other side until their vision is balanced out.
Bi-lateral horse vision is a key component of their survival. They can feel unconfident or nervous and can overreact when you don’t take that into account. Often a horse gets used to something coming at him from one side all the time, and then we suddenly switch it from one side to the other without understanding how upsetting that can be to him.
Parelli Natural Horsemanship always considers a horse’s natural behavior in the human-horse relationship and in solving any horse problems. The more you can learn to think like a horse, the more you’ll understand what his needs are and how to balance them out naturally…mentally, emotionally and physically.
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