I was over at Ace of Spades when I saw this graphic:
Horses have incredible vision. They can almost see in 360 degrees. But that comes at a price. Their vison at that field is almost two-dimensional. So they can have an incredible field of vision, but it’s rather flat.
So young Dave, living in the country, loved riding horses. Actually I still do. There is something about the smell of a horse that makes you complete, and if you haven’t experienced it you just won’t understand what I mean. I rode all over the valley I lived in as a kid, and when other teenagers were driving tractors and four-wheelers to their friend’s homes I was riding a horse.
So one day a couple of friends and I who owned horses decided that we were going to go for a ride. And we did, and it was a glorious summer day, full of sunshine and laughter and great trails that the horses loved to canter down and around. And so it went, until we came up to a part in the trail where water had washed out a small ditch. Maybe six inches across. There was nothing to be alarmed about. A horse would easily walk across it.
However, let’s get back to that two-dimensional vision. Yes, they can see all around, but they don’t have any depth perception. So a horse can see all around it, but when my horse (Star, half Arabian and half Quarter Horse, former barrel racer*) saw that six inch ditch, her two-dimensional vison didn’t see a small little wash. She saw a chasm that she needed to leap across, because obviously it was a gaping crack in the earth and she couldn’t just trot across it.
I was not prepared for this. In fact, I was enjoying the ride and thought that a small little wash in the trail didn’t even warrant mention.
So the horse, who’s two-dimensional vision has informed it that it needs to leap across this canyon like Evil Knievel over the Snake River, leaps.
Which launches me forward. I fly up, I fly forward, and I come down.
Smack dab on the saddle horn.
I managed to get Star to stop before I slid off the saddle like a sack of potatoes.
When I was able to move again, I gingerly got back in the saddle and walked Star home. And I never again used a saddle. I used something called a bareback pad, which is essentially a saddle blanket with no stirrups and a strap to hold it on the horse. And that’s how I rode for another four years before I graduated high school and left the homestead.
*= Star was the first horse I learned to ride, and nobody had informed me that she used to be a barrel racer. So at one point I was cantering her down the road, and she decided that she wanted to go home. She turned. Anyone who hasn’t seen barrel racing, go look it up. Those horses cut so sharp a turn that if you’re not clamped on like a barnacle you’re going to fly off. I was not prepared at all for Star to turn around, and I flew off and made a ten-point landing; two points for each bounce. As I was laying in the road spitting out gravel, Star just stood there and looked at me as if I was a moron who couldn’t sit on a horse. I walked her home that day.