Horses are prey animals that rely on their senses to keep them safe from predators. But the wind disrupts a horse’s ability to clearly hear, see, and smell, reducing its capability to detect predators. This causes horses to become anxious because they perceive danger, explaining why they spook in the wind.
Horses Survived By Being Extra Vigilant
Being prey animals, horses have evolved to survive by always being vigilant to dangers and capable of immediate flight if they perceive a threat.
Horses can hear sounds and perceive movements that humans may not detect. This is why sometimes we are surprised and don´t understand why horses spook in the wind and may even attribute their reaction to bad behaviour.
Riders Pass Their Stress To Horses
When horses are being ridden, their nervousness is usually intensified. In addition to the stress caused by the wind, they are also stressed by the rider, especially if the rider is inexperienced.
We should learn to understand why horses spook in the wind and accept that they may behave differently in windy conditions.
Once the horse is in flight mode, it is difficult to control and dangerous to the rider or other nearby people. So if we are not confident to ride on windy days, we should avoid it and work instead on other ground activities, such as lunging.
How Wind Affects The Horse’s Senses
To better understand how the wind affects the horse’s senses, we will quickly explain each of the horse’s senses and then describe how it impacts each one.
The Horse’s Vision
The horse’s vision is different from ours. They can see almost panoramically because their eyes are placed laterally. They can see two things at once, one from each eye. This allows them to graze while at the same time detect predators around them.