How Horses Sleep

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Even with the amount of time that most horse owners spend at the barn, it is probably quite unlikely that you?ve ever caught your horse in the middle of a nap.? Here are some facts about your horse?s sleeping habits, and why you probably won?t ever see him sound asleep.

  • Horses sleep for only about three hours a day.? This is a far cry from our own need for eight hours a night!
  • Horses have what is called a stay apparatus in their front legs and a check apparatus in their back legs.? This is what allows them to remain standing when they are asleep.
  • Most horses will rest frequently for small periods of time.? Remember, your horse is at heart a prey animal whose main defense is watchfulness and being able to outrun his predators.? Horses evolved to be able to sleep lightly and for short periods of time.
  • If your horse has a comfortable place to do so, he will probably lay down for a short period of time once a day.? However, don?t be alarmed if you never see your horse laying down.? Being off their feet can actually be quite stressful for a horse, and can also inflict pressure on their internal organs.
  • Sleeping horses carry their weight on their forelegs and one hind leg, with the other hind leg rotated forward and resting on the toe.
  • Foals will sleep much more than an adult horse, and will frequently nap lying down.? As they grow older, their napping will lessen and they will spend more time sleeping while standing.
  • Many horses enjoy sunning themselves by stretching full out in a field or paddock.? This is quite normal, and some will even sleep this way.
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