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Horse sleep is the subject of much debate . Do horses sleep standing up ? How does a horse sleep ? These are just a few of the questions loving horse owners have about their pets' sleeping habits. Getting to the bottom of things isn't as easy as it sounds. We've done our homework though, giving you the best advice from the experts on your horse 's sleeping habits .



The answer to this question depends on what exactly you consider to be sleep. Horses , like humans, sleep in different cycles , or degrees, of rest. Horses have several types of sleep. The types of sleep are the same as us. They can be drowsy, slow -wave sleepers, and also require rapid eye movement sleep. REM sleep is deep sleep . It is during REM sleep that we dream. And guess what, horses can dream too . Horses can doze off and rest during the first phase , theslow sleep , when standing . They can do this through an amazing ability of the equine skeletal system. They possess a unique ability to lock their own limbs, particularly their rear kneecaps , in place, allowing their skeleton to stand upright without engaging muscles . This is called a brace and it is possible thanks to a special system of tendons and ligaments .

It is not for nothing that horses are able to rest on their feet. This built-in survival mechanism was carried over from the days when most horses were feral and didn't have time to get back on their feet before fleeing if a predator attacked them. Which brings us to the next question about horse sleep habits...



As mentioned above, horses can only engage in REM sleep when upright, and REM sleep is necessary for horses, just like it is for humans. This therefore means that a horse must spend a certain amount of time lying down to sleep.


A horse cannot achieve REM sleep while standing because the muscles must be fully relaxed. Just like humans who have this sensation of falling and who wake up jerkily from time to time, horses also have jerks and move in their sleep. Control of muscle function is lost during REM sleep and even the dwell apparatus is not sufficient to allow the horse to relax as much. So how much of this deep sleep do horses need on a daily basis? Most experts say 30 minutes to three hours a day is enough for the REM stage. Horses only sleep so soundly during the dark hours after midnight, unless it is

Experts also agree that this REM sleep only occurs in brief periods , usually 10 to 20 minutes at a time. The reason for this is likely due to the horse 's anatomy and physiology , the restriction of blood flow to vital organs when lying down, making it difficult for him to lie down for a long time. A horse can usually only lie down for a maximum of 45 minutes at a time.


Horses need 30 minutes to three hours of REM sleep per day , but this is only a small part of their resting habits. In total, most horses need 5-7 hours of sleep in a 24 hour period. If a horse does n't get enough sleep , the ill effects may not be visible for a few days, but it may eventually become irritable , moody , and even dangerous. In some cases, a sleep-deprived horse may even collapse in unlikely places, such as at a show. There are a number of documented cases of this.

Sometimes a horse does not get enough sleep. This can create a lack of sleep over time. this lack of sleep can come from several causes. Among these reasons are stress , isolation, noise , lack of safety in a new place, articulation problems, insufficient space to lie down and social insecurity caused by situations such as introducing a new horse to a herd or a new aggressive horse nearby. The effects of lack of sleep in horses are lethargy and extreme drowsiness which results in poor performance and poor attitude. REM sleep disorder is a condition in which horses wake up with excessive body movement, resulting in a sleep deficit. Other sleep disorders in equines include narcolepsy , when a fully awake horse suddenly falls asleep, and hypersomnia, which is excessive sleep. Either of these issues could be a sign of a neurological condition and should be checked out by a veterinarian.


Although horses don't need to lie down to fall asleep, they do need to lie on their side for a few 10-20 minute stretches at night to catch up on REM sleep . You may not see them go to bed much as they snooze especially after midnight during the darkest hours of the night. If a horse is lying down during the day, it may just be basking in the sun, but if it becomes common, or if the horse is lying down for a long time, it could indicate a problem. Lack of sleep, colic and other illnesses can be to blame if a horse spends a lot of time lying down during the day. Foals spend more time sleeping than adult horses, just as infants sleep more than adults. Older horses may have difficulty sleeping due to joint problems as they age, which should be discussed with a veterinarian if you suspect sleep deprivation in your senior horse.


Yes, horses often snore in their sleep. Horses generally snore quietly, but like humans, some have troublesome sleep patterns. For example, the horses below in the fun video compilation are clearly not average horses.

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