Are horses seeing Red?

Does your apparel and tack choice colors matter? Are some more visible to a horse than others? Turns out, that answer may be yes. Horses have dichromatic vision, meaning they can see a limited range of colors compared to humans. While horses are believed to be able to see blue and green, they may have difficulty distinguishing between red and green. In fact, some research has suggested that horses may actually prefer the color blue over other colors.

In a study conducted at the University of Sussex in the UK, researchers found that horses drank more water from a blue bucket compared to buckets of other colors, such as red or green. The researchers suggested that this may be because blue is a more visible color and contrasts better against the background of most stables and barns, making it easier for horses to see and recognize as a source of water. It’s important to note, however, that the color of a bucket is just one factor that can influence a horse’s drinking behavior. Other factors, such as the cleanliness and temperature of the water, as well as the horse’s overall health and well-being, can also affect how much water a horse drinks.

What about contrast and patterns on fabric? Well we don’t know that specifically, however, a study published in the Journal of Experimental Biology in 2008 found that horses are able to detect and differentiate between various shades of gray, which allows them to distinguish objects even in low-light conditions. This ability to see contrast may be particularly important for horses that are ridden or trained at night or during low-light conditions.

Horses have great eyes for contrast.
Horses may have great eyes for seeing contrast.

There have been fewer studies on horses’ color preferences when it comes to fabrics, but some anecdotal evidence suggests that horses may be more attracted to certain colors.

For example, many riders and horse owners believe that horses are more likely to spook at or be fearful of bright or neon-colored fabrics, as these colors are not commonly found in nature and may be perceived as threatening or unusual.

Another study conducted in Germany in 2013 found that horses showed a preference for the color green when choosing between different-colored feed buckets. The researchers suggested that this may be because green is a more natural and familiar color to horses, as they are surrounded by green grass and vegetation in their natural environment.

Seeing red?

Your horse may not be.

It’s important to note, however, that the results of these studies are not definitive, and individual horses may have different preferences based on their experiences and personalities. Additionally, other factors, such as the shape and size of an object, may also influence a horse’s preferences.

On the other hand, some people believe that horses may be more relaxed and comfortable around softer, more muted colors such as pastels and earth tones. This is because these colors are more similar to the natural environment that horses are accustomed to, and may be less likely to trigger a fear response.


Horses may have personal preferences for certain colors.

However, it’s important to note that these color preferences may vary from horse to horse, and are influenced by a variety of factors including the individual horse’s personality, training, and past experiences. Therefore, it’s always a good idea to introduce new fabrics and colors slowly and carefully, and to pay close attention to your horse’s behavior and reactions.

In conclusion, while horses may not see red as vividly as other colors, they see contrast quite well and may have personal preferences for other colors. What colors do you think your horse prefers?