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Working horse in the dark?

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  • Working horse in the dark?

    My mare has been home since the end of summer. It was fine at first, but now with the time of year and my work schedule it is full dark before I get home. I don't have anywhere well lit where I can work her and I don't have enough time to ride to justify putting her back in a boarding facility right now.

    I do have a large roundpen that is semi-lit by the barn lights, but it is not light by any means. Do you think it would be dangerous to work her in the semi-dark? She does get all day turnout, but I'd like to keep her sort of in shape.
    It is only through labor and painful effort, by grim energy and resolute courage, that we move on to better things.
    Theodore Roosevelt

  • #2
    They see quite well in the dark (much better than we do)

    If it's lit well enough for you to see, it seems like it should be fine.

    I've ridden at night with no lights a couple times, and it's pretty neat - you find you have a much better sense of things when you can't rely quite as much on your eyes.
    "smile a lot can let us ride happy,it is good thing"

    My CANTER blog.

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    • #3
      Perfectly fine.

      Do it all the time. Even with the indoor with lights option, sometimes it's just nicer to ride outside in the summer breeze.
      The Noodlehttp://tiny.cc/NGKmT&http://tiny.cc/gioSA
      Jinxyhttp://tiny.cc/PIC798&http://tiny.cc/jinx364
      Boy Wonderhttp://tiny.cc/G9290
      The Hana is nuts! NUTS!!http://tinyurl.com/SOCRAZY

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      • #4
        I think it depends on the rider, since horses seem to see quite well in the dark.

        My daughter because of time constraints like yours rides fairly regularly in the dark. I, on the other hand, cannot see at all in the dark and I find that it messes with my balance, so I don't/can't
        \"Tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it.\" Anne of Green Gables

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        • #5
          I did it for years and it was fine.

          I was more worried about it at first than my horse ever was. At first I went an bought a bunch of lights at Home Depot and spent the whole day putting them up. That evening, I turned them on, went out on my horse and held on tight while he spooked at all of the shadows. LOL From there on I just rode in the semi light from the barn and the garage.

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          • #6
            I don't know that horses see better in the dark than humans.

            I do know that if you've got a "clear" round pen and don't expect to do anything dramatic (like jumping, trot poles, etc.) then there should not be any real safety issues.

            Of course, be aware of what's going on and if necessary back of when that's indicated.

            Night work will mean more care on your part but it should not pose any undue risk to the horse.

            Good luck as a "night rider"!!!!!

            G.
            Mangalarga Marchador: Uma Raça, Uma Paixão

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            • #7
              Horses actually should be able to see better in the dark than humans because of the way their eyes are. Most animals have something in the back of their eye that reflects light back through the retina so they can 'use' more of the light available than humans can since we don't have that. That's why their eyes glow in pictures with a flash or when the light hits them just right.

              EDIT: That said, I've never ridden in major dark, but while our ring has light, it's not a lot of light and we've ridden out there with no issue. I probably would mostly stick to flat until I could get out there during the day, though, personally.
              The Trials and Jubilations of a Twenty-Something Re-rider
              Happy owner of Kieran the mostly-white-very-large-not-pony.

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              • Original Poster

                #8
                Originally posted by MuskokaRider View Post
                I did it for years and it was fine.

                I was more worried about it at first than my horse ever was. At first I went an bought a bunch of lights at Home Depot and spent the whole day putting them up. That evening, I turned them on, went out on my horse and held on tight while he spooked at all of the shadows. LOL From there on I just rode in the semi light from the barn and the garage.
                Good to know about the lights. I was thinking about doing something like that, but maybe I'll try without first. She doesn't seem to care about the lack of light, in fact last night when I went to bring her in she was galloping around the pasture in the dark.
                It is only through labor and painful effort, by grim energy and resolute courage, that we move on to better things.
                Theodore Roosevelt

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                • #9
                  A few years ago, our barn had a power outage for a few days after an ice storm/blizzard. We rode in the indoor anyhow until it was VERY dark in the evening.
                  A proud friend of bar.ka.

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                  • #10
                    They can see pretty well. She will be fine. I rode in the dark just last night. There is a flood light a 100' or so away that provides some light - but not much.

                    Managed to have a good ride, worked on the flat w/t/c.
                    APPSOLUTE CHOCKLATE - Photo by Kathy Colman

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                    • #11
                      As another person said, the only problem I have is with my balance in the dark? It's really unusual to be trotting around without the visual input! That said, i easily get unbalanced and disoriented, but know others who aren't as sensitive as I am who ride just fine.
                      There have been other threads on this, but i think the general consensus is a) safe footing, b) horses see well enough in dark or low light/better than us, c) human intervention isn't flawless (shadows can be spooky, and riding with head lamps could cause the horse to have a harder time at adjusting their vision (if you were to turn your head and the light went away, for example). For people whose horses don't mind the shadows, they might ride with their car headlights facing the arena.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Guilherme View Post
                        I don't know that horses see better in the dark than humans.

                        I do know that if you've got a "clear" round pen and don't expect to do anything dramatic (like jumping, trot poles, etc.) then there should not be any real safety issues.

                        Of course, be aware of what's going on and if necessary back of when that's indicated.

                        Night work will mean more care on your part but it should not pose any undue risk to the horse.

                        Good luck as a "night rider"!!!!!

                        G.
                        I am surprised at your post.

                        Horses not only see better, they see much better.

                        I am sure that if you put a horse in a totally enclosed room similar to your hall closet that they would not see anything. Nothing can "see" in total darkness.

                        However, there is no such thing as total darkness in the outdoors.

                        Now I am not suggesting that anyone do what I used to do, but when I was in college and for several years after, I would get my horse out after supper and ride cross country.

                        And I mean cross country in our hunt country. I jumped panels just as I would in the day.

                        Now that I am older, I shudder to think how things could have turned out; like some farmer leaving his harrow in the field in front of the panel and me and my horse landing on it.

                        I also remember the Walsh girls coming to the show and schooling over our outside course in the dark. That course had very very solid fences a couple of which were 4' and all of the others 3'6'.

                        Now there was some light in the area of the fences, but it was the worst kind; lights from the nearby ring, lights from the row of show stalls, etc.

                        But they actually made it worse in my mind because they theoretically could blind the horse because of their location.

                        A few stars, glow from the nearby town on a cloudy night, etc., and a horse can see as well as he needs to.

                        That said, I no longer ride at night because at my age my balance is not what it once was. It is much easier for a horse to step out from under me and actually, I get a little bit of vertigo riding in the dark. Never had that in those days.

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                        • #13
                          Perhaps solar power lights around the round pen would be helpful. Like these http://www.overstock.com/Home-Garden...5/product.html

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                          • Original Poster

                            #14
                            I thought about something similar, I'm just not sure they'd be bright enough to do anything except cast scary shadows. We have some near the driveway, and they remind me of runway lights. Not meant to illuminate the area, just give you an idea of where to land the plane (or park the truck ).
                            It is only through labor and painful effort, by grim energy and resolute courage, that we move on to better things.
                            Theodore Roosevelt

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              I've taken many a trail ride at night, moon and no moon. The horse has waaaay better night vision than I do, and I've always found him (much to my surprise) to be much calmer and less spooky riding in the darkness.
                              *friend of bar.ka

                              "Evidently, I am an unrepentant b*tch, possible trouble maker, and all around super villian"

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                              • #16
                                I rode with a headlamp on not too long ago when my barn was without power due to hurricane Sandy. It was kind of fun. My horse didn't seem to mind. I just had to be a bit more diligent about looking where we were going.

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                                • #17
                                  Well, my Appy mare is nightblind, so I don't think I'll be trying any midnight rides anytime soon.

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    It's not advised at all to ride with a white headlamp though people seem to survive it every day. Horses have fairly good night vision but it's not like they can "see in the dark" though it can feel like it... I've ridden many mountain miles in the dark and the horses don't stumble or trip at all; even when we're in solid trees with no moon, as long as the trail is clear they're good. If you get off trail or into brush you do have to slow it down a bit and let them pick through. I can remember riding up a mountain switchback at about 2 am, thick trees and no moon, I couldn't see my hand in front of my face but our horses knew the trail very well. I remember the packhorse cutting the switchback and not following it out to the end; I didn't have a clue but my good horse stopped, looked up at the cheating pack horse, and very determinedly stomped out to the end of the switchback like the trail said! LOL Our horses don't miss a beat and travel the same down the trail whether it's daylight or midnight.

                                    You surprise me too, G. Don't you ride after dark?

                                    OP: in a round pen with misc light? You're golden.
                                    “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” Stephen R. Covey

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