When you are moving towards a horse, everyone tells you that the best way to approach him is forty-five degrees to the shoulder. Why is that? Why are we taught to not pass a horse from behind? Why are some horses head shy? It seems like when you first learn to ride they give you all of these rules, but they never really tell you why you should follow them.
Many of the reasons why we do certain things around horses is to keep ourselves a little safer since horses can be "unpredictable". Sometimes it can be just simply because their vision is different than ours. Now of course that makes sense because we have our eyes in front of our faces and they have them on the sides. What some people tend to forget is that this changes the way they see things drastically. Horses have blind spots like we do, but they also have binocular and monocular vision. Binocular vision means they are able to see an object with both eyes at the same time and monocular vision means they can see another object using only one of their eyes.
So when someone says you should approach a horse forty-five degrees to the shoulder, that's because the horse will be able to know where you are at all times. This way, he is less likely to spook or react. He knows that you aren't threatening because he is able to read you body language while you are walking up to him.
The reason why you shouldn't pass behind a horse is because he won't be able to see you as you do so. If the horse becomes uneasy and he can't turn his head to find you, his instincts will tell him that the only way to protect himself is to kick out before he gets hurt. Of course you don't have the intention to hurt the horse, but we also have to remember that they are a pray animals. Their instincts are to fight or flight and even though they will flee before they will fight, if there is no way for them to get away and find release, they'll kick out just out of instinct. You can't blame them for this, it's something that they are born with. You just have to remember that and to make sure that your horse knows where you are at all times so that you stay safe.
Now the reason why a horse can be head shy is for more or less the same reason why you shouldn't walk behind a horse; they can't see your hand when you touch their head. As I mentioned before, horses like to see where you are and what you are doing at all times or they can become uneasy. Even if they might see your hand approach them, as soon as it disappears and touches them, they no longer feel comfortable. Think about it, if you were just minding your business and all of a sudden someone touched your back and you didn't know anyone was there, wouldn't you flinch? The only difference between you and the horse is that his senses are much more sensitive than yours. So if you're going to touch a head shy horse, just make sure to go slow and be patient.
The biggest thing when dealing with horses no matter what is to remember that they are prey animals. They are much more sensitive to things than what we are. If you can remind yourself about their instincts and how they are naturally, you will be a lot more comfortable around a horse. There is no such thing as a stupid horse. If he is acting out in a way that isn't what you wanted, you gave him the wrong message. Try another approach and see what happens.
I hope that some of this is useful to you and I thank you for reading my blog. I wish you all the best and I hope you are all doing well!