Why Can I See the Whites of My Horse’s Eyes?

Why can I see the whites of my horse’s eyes all the time, even when he’s relaxed? He is a chestnut Appendix Quarter Horse gelding.
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Q. Why can I see the whites of my horse’s eyes all the time, even when he’s relaxed? He is a chestnut Appendix Quarter Horse gelding.

Esmé, Claremont, California


A. The “eye whites” you are describing is the white color of the conjunctiva, third eyelid, and sclera, tissues that surround the central, clear cornea of the eye.

There are several reasons that a horse may have more of this white area showing. The most common reason is simply less pigmentation or brown coloring. Lightly colored horses, such as Paints, Appaloosas, and some chestnut horses have less overall pigment in their skin, including the areas around the eyes. Without the pigment, the white areas are much more visible

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Written by:

Brian C. Gilger, DVM, MS, Dipl. ACVO is an Associate Professor of Ophthalmology at North Carolina State University.

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