The Two Sides of Every Horse
As I continue to cover some of the not-so-obvious basics about horses for newcomers especially, we come to a rather spectacularly unique fact about them:
Horses take in separate sets of sensory information from each side of their body, including their eyes.
You read that right.
Often when investigating something new the horse will pass back and forth in front of the object in a serpentine pattern so that he can visually assess the object or situation from both the left and right. As the horse is doing this, you may also notice changes in his posture, speed, and proximity to the object of his attention as he decides whether to approach it or flee from it.
It can be really interesting, when your horse is at liberty, to observe his body language in new/unsure situations or circumstances and also to take note if there is a side of his body he naturally offers or protects when interacting with different people, pieces of equipment, other horses, etc. Like the horse gaining information from each side, we can hone our observation skills and see there is SO MUCH information to glean from the horse from moment to moment which will inform us to help him through our next steps together.
If a particular horse is very "one-sided," we can usually work on balancing that asymmetry with patience and practice, by gaining more information about the horse's current and previous experiences, and by working through physical, emotional, or energetic issues as they arise.