As we all know, horses are very intelligent animals that can easily pick up on human behaviors. They also seem to have their own language which they use with each other and for us to understand them!
One of the most common things horse owners do is cover or poke their horse’s eye when showing them something. This is usually done before teaching your horse what you want him to learn or before getting the correct response from him.
By doing this, you are preventing your horse from being able to see what you are trying to get his attention on. He will be distracted by the covering and may even try to push away the material or pull it off himself.
Why would someone do this? There could be many reasons depending on the context. Sometimes people do it because they are too busy running around after other things to pay attention to what they were looking at. It can also be due to nervousness or fear causing them to worry about how their horse might react to whatever they are looking at.
Whatever the reason, it does not make sense and is unnecessary in training your horse. If you must do this, there should be a good reason why!
Never do this if you want your dog or cat to look you in the eyes. The same goes for physically interacting with these species – dogs need to feel connected to you to trust you fully.
To prevent flies from laying eggs
When horses are young, their protective layer of skin is not fully developed. This allows for easier water entry into the surface layers of the horse’s eye which can lead to ophthalmia or inflammation of the eyes.
This often results in redness and swelling of the eyelids and around the eyeball. Because of this, some breeders teach their children how to wash out horses’ eyes by rubbing gently with wet hands or using tap-water rinses.
However, there is no evidence proving that doing so actually helps treat ophthalmia in horses.
To keep the horse calm
When horses are nervous or stressed, they can develop a habit of covering their eyes with either his eyelids or rolling them up completely. This is called “covering down” or “rolling back”, respectively.
If you have ever seen this behavior in action, it can look very funny to watch!
This typically happens when a horse is confronted with something he does not like or someone he is afraid of. For example, if a stranger walks into the barn area, your horse may cover down.
He may also do so if there is noise that makes him uncomfortable (like people talking loudly)or if there is unexpected movement (someone walking across the yard).
However, aside from being humorous, these behaviors can be scary for the horse. He may feel threatened or worried and could lash out physically if needed.
Why do horses usually cover their eyes?
Horses normally use their vision to explore their surroundings and learn about what is safe and what is dangerous. By hiding their eyes, they cannot fully access this information.
When a horse covers down, however, it sometimes seems as though he is trying to shut off his own senses. This is why some trainers refer to this as self-protecting or fear-driven avoidance.
Some experts believe that horses who consistently show signs of fear tend to become fearful themselves.
To keep the horse focused
When horses are working or competing, they will need your help to focus. If you notice that their eyes are closed or looking away from you, it may be because they have given up trying to see you!
Horses can easily get distracted by external stimuli, so when they try to work, they must be able to concentrate only on what they are doing. This is why people often cover horses’s eyes during training — so that he does not look at something else while he works.
If a horse has white hairs around his nose and mouth, this is also an indication that he is having trouble focusing. Because horses cannot close their eyelids completely, some of the whites show through which sometimes makes them seem like they are blinking more than normal.
When this happens, it can make the horse lose concentration, which could cost him in the race or contest. He might even stop racing or performing altogether if he feels that you are distracting him.
To keep the horse healthy
When horses are in cold conditions, they will try to protect themselves by limiting how much of their body can be exposed to the air. This is what we refer to as fur-lining or eye covering.
When horses are born, their eyes are open until they close them within hours. It is important for their health that they do this, but as horses get older, they may not be able to.
If your horse has dry eye disease then it is very common to see him or her trying to rub the surface of the eye with their nose or licking at the eye. This could cause irritation, inflammation or infection if the eye is opened up. If this happens frequently, take extra care to make sure his or her eyes are well cleaned and check out whether there might be something like dirt getting into the eye.
To show affection
When horses look away or have watery eyes, it can be due to many things- disease, stress, or lack of sleep. While some horse owners try to make excuses for their horse’s looking glassy or empty eyes, there are actually several reasons why your horse may have dry eye.
Dry eye is when the mucus in your horse’s eyeball doesn’t contain as much fluid as it should, so there’s less room for contaminants to settle in. If you check out his/her eyes frequently, you may notice white powder around the eyelid which comes from dried up tears. This can also cause pain for your horse.
Some conditions that can cause dry eye include hormonal changes during pregnancy or after birth, nutritional deficiencies, parasite infections, diabetes, thyroid disorders, and immune system problems.
There are different treatments depending on what stage of treatment you are at, but all aim to restore the normal balance of liquid in the eye. For example, using eyedrops with corticosteroids will reduce inflammation and promote healing. Or possibly oral medications or supplements such as vitamin A, zinc, and omega oils.
It is very important to stop rubbing the eyes if your horse has dry eye.
To show anger
There are many reasons why horses cover their eyes with a layer of skin or gel. When they do this, it is to hide what they are feeling. They may be hiding fear, sadness, discomfort, frustration, etc.
Horses can get very emotional and sometimes those emotions turn into physical reactions. For example, when a horse gets scared or angry, his body will release hormones that make him feel sick and take extra time to calm down.
When a horse uses this defense mechanism, he usually covers his eyes for some length of time. It helps keep other animals and people away until he has worked through his feelings. This is how it becomes habitually done.
There are also times when horses use this behavior as a form of deception. For instance, when a young foal tries to see its mother for the first time after being separated during pregnancy, she often hides behind her eyelids. Or if a baby horse does not have a proper bond with its parents, it will try to conceal this by covering its eyes.
Something about having your vision blocked upsets most babies and kids, and it takes a while for them to work through these feelings.
To prevent the horse from rolling in manure
When horses are walking around, they tend to look down at their feet more frequently than up towards things like houses or other horses. This is because they need to check for obstacles under them so that they do not trip and fall.
When they run into an obstacle such as a pile of manure or another horse, they will close one eye. The closed eye helps focus attention on the area near the nose where there may be signs of trouble such as sneezing or redness.
If a rider covers both eyes with a hand or finger, it can distract the horse just enough so that he does not work to hard to pay attention to the extra sense being distracted. This could make him nervous or even aggressive.
To prevent the horse from biting
When horses are young, they need their eyes to develop properly. As they grow up, however, this development is sometimes hindered. This can cause problems later in life!
Horses that are not able to focus correctly grow nervous. They become scared of things because they perceive them as threats.
When horses are afraid, they can hurt themselves or others by acting out. For example, if a horse becomes frightened when you take it for a walk, it may try to bolt or even kick you.
This is why people often see covered eyes in horses. Because horses fear blindness, they protect their eye sockets by rolling in them or keeping them closed completely.
However, this behavior can be confusing for other horses around them. If your horse has rolled its eyes, how do you know whether he is protecting himself or trying to avoid something?
You should never force your horse to face something he is afraid of. It could make him more vulnerable than ever before! So, instead of forcing his head down, get rid of the reason behind his protective behaviors.