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Do Horses Have Different Eye Colors Like Humans?



Do Horses Have Different Eye Colors Like Humans

If you’re an animal lover, there’s a good chance you’ve spent hours gazing into the soulful eyes of your equine companion. But have you ever paused to study the colour of those mesmerizing orbs? You might have noticed that some horses have brown eyes, while others have blue or green. Naturally, this begs the question – do horses have different eye colours like humans?

Let’s explore this fascinating topic and unravel the mystery once and for all.

Horse Eyes vs. Human Eyes

First things first, it’s important to understand that horses’ eyes aren’t quite the same as the human eye. The anatomy and physiology of a horse’s eye are vastly different from our own, which means their mechanisms for sight and colour perception differ as well. However, horses do have variations in eye colour. The vast majority of horses have brown eyes, ranging from a light hazel to a dark, almost-black shade. This is the most common equine eye colour and is considered the “default.” However, many horses also have eyes that are a striking shade of blue or green, which can be particularly noticeable in certain breeds. So, while horses don’t have quite as many eye colour options as humans do, variations do exist.


Interestingly, a horse’s eye colour is determined by genetics, just like many other physical traits. However, it’s not as simple as a single gene dictating the colour of their eyes. Eye colour in horses is determined by several genes that interact with one another to create a unique colour spectrum. Additionally, the same combination of genes can result in different shades of the same colour, meaning two horses with the same eye colour might still have slightly different shades of that colour.


So, what causes a horse’s eyes to be blue or green rather than brown? The answer lies in the levels of melanin in their eyes. Melanin is a pigment that affects colouration in the hair, skin, and eyes. Horses with high levels of melanin will typically have brown eyes, while those with lower levels may have blue, green, or even hazel eyes. Interestingly, some horses’ eyes may appear blue or green when they’re young, but as they age and their melanin levels increase, their eyes may gradually darken to a brown or hazel colour.

What Does the Color Mean?

Despite how striking blue or green eyes may be in horses, they’re not always a desirable trait in certain breeds. In some cases, blue or green eyes are linked to a greater risk of developing ocular issues. For example, in the Appaloosa breed, horses with blue eyes may be more susceptible to squamous cell carcinoma, a type of skin cancer that can develop in the eye. Additionally, blue eyes in horses may be linked to an increased risk of developing cataracts. For these reasons, breeders may not necessarily want to encourage or selectively breed for horses with blue or green eyes.


While horses don’t have quite as many eye colour options as humans, they still have a unique and fascinating spectrum of eye colours. Eye colour is determined largely by genetics and melanin levels, with variations ranging from brown to blue to green. It’s important to keep in mind that certain breeds may have higher risks associated with certain eye colours, and breeders and owners should be aware of these risks when considering eye colour in their horses.

Ultimately, whether your horse has brown eyes, blue eyes, or something in between, their striking gaze is sure to captivate you and remind you of the magic of these incredible animals.

I am Tommy, an avid equestrian who is passionate about the lifestyle. Writing for an equestrian blog has been a lifelong dream of mine, as I have been around horses my whole life. My mission is to share all the knowledge and experiences I have gathered throughout the years in order to help others reach their goals in this amazing sport. My dedication and enthusiasm towards horses and all things related to them never cease to amaze me!

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