Hello Tri-W readers! Just yesterday I was riding a horse that I have in for training at McNeely Farms Equestrian Center and I looked over to spot another horse laying flat on his side, completely still. This may be reason for panic because horses do not spend very much time in this position because they are more vulnerable but the sun was shining and the farm was quiet so I knew I didn’t have to worry.
While horses do in fact slumber while standing as most of you know, they can also sleep while lying down. When standing, a horse will lightly doze. Horses have a physiological aspect to their bodies that allows for the relaxation of their muscles while lightly sleeping that keeps them from falling down. There is a locking device in all four legs that allows this to be possible.
Horses do however need to enter REM sleep, just like we do. They cannot achieve this good quality sleep while standing, so a horse will need to lie down for a couple hours every four to five days or so. Horses will do this when they feel the most comfortable in their surroundings to ensure they are getting the minimum of REM sleep they require.
So, the next time you see a horse lying down in their pasture know that it doesn’t automatically mean that they are hurt, they might just be catching a few Z’s!