Do horses lay down to sleep? 😴

sleepy horse standing up

Horses have been captivating humans for centuries, and even with the advances in modern-day horse-keeping, there are still many myths that continue to be passed down from generation to generation. One of the most popular myths among these is the belief that horses never lie down to sleep. There are a few reasons why this myth might have started, ranging from an assumption of horses’ constant readiness for escape to a belief that horses can sleep while standing up. However, the truth is actually quite different. In this blog post, we will dive deeper into the sleeping habits of horses.

Horses never sleep lying down

Horses are prey animals, and in order to protect themselves from predators, they need to be alert and ready to run away at all times. It’s true that horses have evolved to be able to sleep standing up, but this doesn’t mean that they never lie down to sleep. In fact, horses require lying down to enter the deepest and most restorative stage of sleep. This is why they only sleep standing up for short intervals, usually no longer than 15 minutes at a time.

Horses can sleep standing up, can you?

Horses have a system of tendons and ligaments called stay apparatus that allows them to lock their legs and stand up asleep. However, this is an energy-intensive process and takes a physical toll on the horse’s body. Therefore, horses do not sleep standing up for long periods of time, and they require restorative sleep to maintain their physical and mental health.

Horses need sleep

A horse’s physical and mental health is highly dependent on regular and adequate sleep. Like humans, horses go through different phases of sleep, including stages of rapid eye movement (REM) and non-REM sleep. These phases help the horse’s body repair and restore itself, and also have a significant effect on the horse’s cognitive functioning. Sleep deprivation in horses can lead to a range of health problems, including colic, laminitis, and even depression.

Horses require specific sleeping conditions to encourage lying down during sleep. A comfortable and clean stall with soft shavings and a free-flowing, clean water supply can help encourage a horse to lie down and get the best possible sleep. Like humans, horses also benefit from a stable sleep schedule. Maintaining a regular routine can help stabilize the horse’s biological clock and improve the quality of their sleep.

The belief that horses never sleep lying down is a horse-keeping myth and is not true. Although horses can sleep while standing up, they require lying down to enter the most restorative stage of sleep necessary for their well-being. Horses should be provided with comfortable sleeping conditions, including a clean and comfortable stall with soft shavings. It is essential for horse owners to maintain a regular routine to stabilize the horse’s biological clock and improve the quality of their sleep. Remember, just like humans, horses benefit from good sleep hygiene, and a well-rested horse is a happy horse.