Category: Horses

The White’s of Their Eyes

It’s a battle cry that has trickled down from history and into group role playing games, common in phrase and easy to make sense of. Where did it come from? When did you first hear it?

It may be that this was among the tactical ideas shared by military commanders across the world so perhaps we cannot attribute it to one person, one culture, one time. The phrase is most popularly associated in American culture with the battle of Bunker Hill in May 1775. For 18th century armies this battle command increased the possibility of a hit when your troops only had access to the inaccurate smooth-bore muskets and risked a shortage of ammunition.

You can track similar statements back through leaders such as General James Wolfe leading his troops on the Plains of Abraham in September 1759; it was used by Lieutenant-Colonel Sir Andrew Agnew in the Battle of Detingen in June 1743; by Frederick the Great in 1755; again from Prince Charles of Prussia in 1745; all the way back to General-King Gustavus Adolphus who instructed his musketeers “never to give fire, til they could see their own image in the pupil of their enemy’s eye.”

While these variations have common military recollections, what comes to mind for me is a display of fear from animals. For a time I was around a lot of show horses and got to visit a small barn to see some roadster ponies. Now, I am by no means an equine expert but I am knowledgable to the account of interpreting body language very well. These horses were fearful, something I noted not only by that they jumped and scrambled away from the stall entrances as fast as they could with taunt necks and turned, trembling bodies, but also by the amount of white sclera I could see.


At normal, or resting, position the white sclera is not usually visible all the way around the iris on horses.

2012-04-25 19.14.51


It can be seen most often in appaloosas but its not a trait limited to the breed.

Fargonon/Syd’s cute Orion


Dogs have a similar display. You know the look, the one that makes us all feel pathetic and off-set inside.


Yep. That one. What about you? Are you most familiar with the phrase from a military aspect or from your pets at home?

Equine Tip for the Week: Horses are very aware of their personal space and when you venture into that space I highly recommend you both let the horse know you are there and that you be very respectful of a prey animal whose build is designed to be a weapon. Make sure you can see the horse’s eye when approaching. This guarantees that the horse has you in its field of vision and is much better than if you approach from a blind spot. Why? If the horse cannot immediately identify if you are a friend or foe it will strike out. More of this can be explained in an earlier post:What colors do Horses See.

Go learn something new about a topic that interests you. Share it with me in the comments below!


  1. The Battle of Bunker Hill – Wikipedia
  2. White’s of Their Eyes – Teaching History
  3. Appaloosa

Other Ratified Research Posts:

  1. Glaucus atlanticus: The Blue Dragon
  2. People, Horses, and Halitosis
  3. Beneficial Stress
  4. (another link coming soon)

quick art update

I had a different post planned for you today guys and gals, but I want to develop it more before I load it for you. Instead of doing both of us a disservice by releaseing a half-baked completed piece, here’s some updated art and what I’ve been working on lately. The plan is to have the post, involving koi fish, up next week.

I hope you are having a stellar week and are doing something to celebrate you and, if applicable, your mother/children for Mother’s Day.

The Headless Horseman

This last week I wanted to work on a Halloween themed illustration in time for the day. Unfortunately due to technological complications the illustration did not make it out on the day of but I was still able to complete the concept and upload that in my art gallery (shown and linked at the bottom of this post).

The Headless Horseman is one of my favorite Halloween themed icons and naturally I wondered at the origins of the myth. I found a simple break down of the cultural origins in a short Headless Horseman on Wikipedia.

As it is there are several versions of the Horseman across over five cultures, including a warrior who was decapitated in a clan battle, a headless rider on a headless horse, a Horseman whose presence is announced by a hunting horn to wanders in the woods, a Horseman who warns hunters to pass the hunt the next day lest they meet with an accident  – there is even a headless man driving a black carriage! As for the popular American version we are familiar with, it roots from a man killed during the American Revolution by cannon. Upon his death the soldier’s head was shattered. His comrades buried him without it and he rose from the grave upon a steed, searching for his lost head…

Did you know Sir Gawain’s tale also involves a headless horseman? In the Middle English poem the following is depicted:

“…when the Green Knight mocks Arthur’s silence, the king steps forward to take the challenge. As soon as Arthur grips the Green Knight’s axe, Sir Gawain leaps up and asks to take the challenge himself. He takes hold of the axe and, in one deadly blow, cuts off the knight’s head. To the amazement of the court, the now-headless Green Knight picks up his severed head. Before riding away, the head reiterates the terms of the pact, reminding the young Gawain to seek him in a year and a day at the Green Chapel. After the Green Knight leaves, the company goes back to its festival…”

For my version of the Horseman I have pulled from mainly the Irish and German versions. In an Irish version he is known as dullahan or dulachán which means “dark man” and is not actually a man but a fairy/sídhe. The whip he wields is made of a human spine. Another Irish version of the story depicts him as gan ceann which means “without a head” and an item made of gold will frighten him away. The German version identifies him as a pursuer of perpetrators of capital crimes. I do wish I had time to add a pack of black hounds with him – in that version the hounds have tongues of fire! Ah well. Next year.

Hero by Kiri Ramdeo

Until next time, go out there, utilize your search engine to conduct some research on your own favorite icons. What will you learn?

Other “Ratified Research” posts:

  1. Gaticus atlanticus: The Blue dragon
  2. Purple Heart
  3. A Tree Blushing Valentine’s
  4. People, Horses, and Halitosis

Age Versus Knowledge

I realize that I worry substantially about my personal riding habits.

I worry that my seat is too light, my leg position is off – that my hands are too heavy on the bit. As such I also find that my enjoyment of riding is indirectly proportional to the amount of worry I carry. The more I carry the more the horse carries and a little bit of weight in the wrong area can mean the difference between a favorable fall and a bad fall. Why do I carry so much of it? Perhaps because I have moved to

On that note I want to bring your attention to a writer who breathes such horse sense into her writing that it is soothing. As I read Anna Blake’s posts the tenseness in my shoulders relax and my worries about being a good rider – my focus on my bad habits – eases slightly. Anna’s most recent post contains a bit of wisdom that has me pondering about timelines:

“One of the very best things about being 60 is that no one wants to see me naked- on a horse or anywhere else. That makes me really happy. Liberated. Free. The meat wagon has left. Friends I have now love me without cosmetic correction, for the same reason horses and dogs have from the beginning. It’s dependable.”

It reminds me that we come out of the womb knowing knowing next to nothing cosmetically factual, yet very much instinctually. Does that mean you have to wait until you are aged three score years to feel the way Anna describes? Should you place a calendar marker on thirty years to acquire a prescribed amount of knowledge? Not necessarily. Age specific markers of knowledge on a timeline are placed there by others. For a large portion of childhood we hear, “You’ll understand [insert-situation] when you are [insert-age-here].” I have reached a few of the ages prescribed by aunts, parents, and an assortment of other adults. Do you know what I have learned? That markers are silly. None of the markers dictated to me were accurate to the ages paired with them. There is no correct age for mastering riding or producing a best seller novel. There is no correct mindset for a specific age. Accept that you are going to process the lesson you learn in a time and way that is unique to you. While yes, we are sometimes grouped by age for such experiences that does not make it an ultimatum. Becoming negative towards yourself because you haven’t learned the lesson for [insert-situation] by [insert-age] does not help either. There are enough people weighing in on you as it is, why add to your load?

When I returned to taking riding lessons at twenty-four I found a lot of riders around me were younger than I and knew more factually about the discipline they rode in. I felt disappointed. However, I stuck with it and while I sometimes feel sad that I did not come into this area of my passion sooner I no longer feel disappointed. I know plenty of things others will not and to write every little thing down would take longer than I have to live. Consider that we pass on knowledge both factual and experiential to each person who crosses into our circle of life. Sometimes the lesson is learning how to navigate the social circle you prefer, sometimes it is learning how to listen to and sharpen your instincts. You will meet people who learned lesson A at fourteen or forty what you realized at twenty four.

In the end age is no consequence. You are a culmination of your experiences no matter your age. Although, just keep in mind that you do not have to experience a situation to be sure you would not enjoy any part of it. Learn from both your negatives and positives. Focus on your positives.

untitled WIP

I hope everyone has a fun weekend~

Drawings and Helping with a Show

I have decided that this blog shall remain at the address it is, at least for now.

That said, thank you all, return readers and watchers of my art. I love having your feedback. I meet so many wonderful people pursuing this dream and each personality is unique. Thank you for your advice, consideration, and support. It is not easy and starting out is the hardest part for any endeavor. If you know of anyone who is interested in print quality digital commissions I possess a wide variety of ability and unique style. The easiest way to contact me is via my artist page on Facebook or at

Daily Drawings

This weekend I am in Ocala helping Arbordale Riding Academy at a horse show in Ocala. I shall not be riding in a class but helping work horses and working with Arbordale’s Owner and Trainer, Andrea Whiting, as well as her Assistant Trainer, Emily Whiting. To learn more about these wonderful women and the details of their experience visit Arbordale’s Facebook page.

I’ll check back in with you soon. I hope everyone is having a good start to their weekend!

What Colors do Horses See?

I once conducted a scientific project inquiring which colors lovebirds could differentiate between. I thought it ideal seeing as I liked animals, our family owned a small flock of lovebirds, and I had never seen the question answered. I would have won first place if I had not been very sick on the day the judges conducted interviews. I do have red ribbon for my hard work. Not bad for sixth grade, ey?

Can horses pick up different colors? Yes. A journal study was conducted in which scientists conducted tests – approved by the Institutional Animal Care and Use Facility of the University of Wisconsin-Madison – to illicit responses from the receptors in the eyes of six ponies. Another is a study was conducted by Tania Blackmore, a graduate student at the Department of Psychology at the University of Waikato. This was a research study she conducted for her Masters thesis in which a special stall with colored treat prompts was constructed in order to Measure results from four horses. These studies showed that horses can differentiate colors on a dichromatic scale whereas humans and other primates perceive on a trichromatic color scale.

What is the difference?

click image to see more interpretations

This is the trichromatic color scale that humans and other primates perceive with cone cells in their eyes. Cone cells are photoreceptors that perceive different wavelengths which we identify as colors. Our photoreceptors take in three primary colors: red, blue, and yellow – and four basic hues, red, blue, yellow, and green. The differentiation in our scotopic vision varies between people, hence the disagreements over the grade of red or blue an object appears to be.

click image to see original study
click image to see original study

Dichromatic vision as experienced by horses features blue and yellow photoreceptive cone cells. Neither of the referenced studies are sure if horses can see the green hue between yellow and blue. This perception  would be similar to a person who is color blind to red and green hues:

click image to see original study
click image to see original study


Figures A and B show unaltered images as we would perceive them. Figures C and D show the same images as a horse would seem them. As you can see though the images are clear the color creates a blurred effect in figures C and D. This would also explain why horses will react differently to things than we would, especially if they do not understand what they are seeing. This is also why horses have to use all their senses to perceive the world around them – touch, smell, sight, sound, and taste~

Until next week, happy exploring!


Other Ratified Research Posts:

  1. People, Horses, and Halitosis
  2. The Headless Horseman
  3. The Luckdragon
  4. (more coming soon)

People, Horses, and Halitosis

So, I’ve been looking at my old blog and I miss writing “ratified research” type posts. I have found that usually my readers like these. Sharing what I interpret with you helps me organize the material for long term memory and perhaps teaches you something you did not know before! Here we go, and in the future, look out for the “Ratified Research” category tag at the side column for more like these.

Sometimes when I am around a horse I will rub its forehead, scratch its nose, and smell its breath – sometimes it smells mine! The horse raises its nose to my cheek and breathes, flaring its nostrils as though it is trying to smell what I am smelling. I read once that this is a greeting so I will breathe with the horse. You can learn a few things about the horse just from the smell of its breath, the same as with people! In my experience a horse’s breath is an unnamed sweet smell, or of what the horse has just eaten (grain, grass from grazing, peppermint, apples, hay). However, there are times when the smell of the horse’s breath causes me to recoil.

In people, the smell of bad breath can be cause by a variety of things: smelly food (onions, garlic, anchovies, etc), lack of brushing, gingivitis, an ongoing illness, respiratory tract infections, and bacteria sitting on the tongue. Bacteria on the tongue is the most common cause  of halitosis as these munch on food particles and produce gases. Bad breath in horses roots from similar causes, like an abscessed tooth, a tumor, or an advanced lung infection (e.g. pneumonia). The most common of these reasons is from not eating in an extended period of time. You see, when we eat saliva production is stimulated and the bacteria is scrubbed from the tongue. If you approach a domesticated horse that has been grazing in the fields their breath is more likely to smell sweet or “grassy” as the saliva is flushing organisms from their mouth as they graze. That said, what do you think a malnourished horse’s breath would smell like? One that is gaunt in the face with ribs protruding from its sides?

Bad breath can also come with some discharge from the horse’s nose. Most of the time this is not serious and could be attributed to something as simple as allergies. Yes, horses get those too. Like the human body the horse’s body can rectify the more common and minor causes of discharge in a few hours or a few days. However, nasal discharge can also indicate bacterial infections, respiratory infections, nasal lacrimal problems, tumors, blockage of the esophagus, toxic plant effects, and can even indicate choking. A choking horse is a serious matter. Horses cannot regurgitate as humans can – in other words horses cannot vomit. All you can do to help in this case is to call a vet and be prepared – perhaps a few tips on this will help. Keep in mind that any discharge from the horse’s nose does not automatically indicate choking. Discharges can range through some of these:

Each discharge can be caused by something different and indicate different severities. Bleeding from the nostrils, for example, can be cause by anything from excessive workout to a tumor. A horse bleeding from the nose should have an endoscopy to find the root of the problem as that is the only way to treat the horse. Remember, when it comes to medicine symptoms are indications of a root problem. It is like when you see the discoloration and wilting of leaves on an oak. This can be caused by oak wilt, a fungus infection which spread unseen by insects or through the roots of the tree.

If you smell bad breath from or see some discharge on your horse’s nose don’t worry too much, it could be they haven’t eaten in a while, especially if you keep them in stall for a long period of time. However, if your horse’s breath becomes particularly malodorous, or the condition continues, ask your veterinarian to investigate. In any case if there is something happening that you are unsure of or worried about I always found it was best to ask questions – ask lots of questions – before you panic. You could be more capable of handling the problem than you think~


Here’s some updated art centered on horse healing. In fact I’ve been reworking a lot of the presentation for my art so you can enjoy the image focus without a massive watermark distracting you. Click on the picture to follow the link to my art gallery and see more! This picture may be available as a print soon. Keep an eye on my Storenvy shop. You can find a link to all these places on the “About” tab above.

Learning can enrich your understanding and enjoyment of life. I have had the benefit of a few phenomenal teachers in my life and they always encouraged me to keep going, to realize my potential and capacity for knowledge. The best foundation I had when I started to ride horses was a great teacher. The best foundation I had for gaining knowledge was a great teacher. Granted I took it upon myself to search and pursue what I desired to know and the teachers on my path helped me along. Sometimes I catch myself when I falter. Sometimes a mentor helps me climb a cliff here and there.

Until next week my lovelies!


  1. 8 Surprising Causes of Bad Breath
  2. Not-So-Sweet: Why Your Horse’s Breath Stinks
  3. Discussion on Bad Breath
  4. Nasal Discharge
  5. Nose Bleed in Horses (WebMD)

Other Ratified Research Posts:

  1. The Purple Heart
  2. What Colors do Horses See?
  3. Expressing in Your Style
  4. Ponders on Colorful Breeding