Sight, smell, taste, hearing and touch – the five senses. Humans have them and horses have them, too. These senses are used daily to navigate the world and protect from danger or potential predators. To warn that danger may be close, horses use hearing, smell and sight.
Hearing is an important evolutionary trait in horses. This developed hearing allows horses to determine the location of sound and recognize its’ identity. Their ears rotate 180 degrees and usually point in the direction that the horse is looking. With exposure to different noises in rural and urban environments, horses become more accustomed and familiar with them.
The horses’ sense of smell is highly advanced. Horses use their sense of smell for survival. It helps them to select what they want to eat and what may be poisonous or dirty. Their sense of sight is also strong with a 340-degree field of vision with two blind spots directly in front – between the eyes- and behind the tail. Horses have excellent peripheral vision.
As horses train to race, these senses are important in learning about their environment and how to compete on the racetrack.