How horses sleep!

 

Ever wonder why your cat sleeps about a thousand hours a day and your horse is always awake? Part of it has to do with their natural instincts – cats are hunters, and horses are the hunted. Like other animals that are eaten, horses put themselves at risk by sleeping, so their sleep cycles are radically different from cats.

 

jump to shopping 

 

horse sleeping on the pasture dirt patch Comet is CLEARLY unfazed by the paparazzi taking his picture while he’s sleeping.

 

Horses generally sleep for three to four hours a day.

 

  • A horse’s sleep is composed of three stages: Drowsiness, for about two hours, slow-wave sleep for about three hours, and REM sleep, for about 45 minutes. Horses enter the drowsiness stage standing up, with one hind leg cocked. They have the amazing ability to “lock” one stifle so the leg is solid as the other one rests. This sling apparatus allows for a quick getaway if need be and some stability as your horse snoozes.

 

  • When your horse is on his chest or flat out on his side, he’s most likely slow-wave sleeping. Their muscles are relaxed and they are definitely resting!

 

  • Next comes REM sleep, which includes loss of muscle tone and total relaxation. This stage of sleep lasts for about 45 minutes and your horse typically rests on his sternum and tucks his head. This position facilitates the easiest breathing.

 

horse in red blanket sleeping in the paddock

Napping in the sun!

 

Some horses get their rest during the night, some during the day.

 

  • Many horses are so regular you can set your watch to them, others vary their patterns for whatever reason – season, weather, light, how much food he has in front of him, you name it.

 

Horses will not sleep if they are not comfortable with their surroundings

 

  • You may notice in a herd setting, some horses will sleep while others stand watch. The same principle applies in a barn setting, the horses in stalls must feel like it’s safe to lay flat and sleep.

 

  • This is actually one reason that I like to pick out shavings from tails every single day – a tail free from shavings is a sign your horse may not be comfortable enough to sleep.

 

horse resting in pasture with front legs tucked in

And now he’s drifting in and out of slow-wave sleep. He must have partied too hard last night.

 

Horses that go on for days and weeks without sleep can develop dangerous problems, including collapsing.

 

  • Often they fall to their knees and wake up when their nose hits the ground. This is clearly a safety issue for you if you are riding, and a safety issue for them if they go down in a stall and bonk their head on the way down on a window, bucket, wall, etc. If you suspect a sleep disorder, contact your veterinarian right away.

 

  • There are many reasons for a horse to not sleep, from arthritis, pregnancy, injury, travel, and fright. You and your Veterinarian can figure out the reason and help your guy get some shut-eye.

 

Do you know your horse’s sleep pattern?

 

go shopping button for horse products

 

Stock up here for your horse supplies! As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases, but it’s ZERO extra cents to you.  You can also visit my Amazon storefront here:  PEG storefront.

Horse Behaviour Exposed BOOK
$24.99

Learn the language of horses

03/12/2024 01:08 am GMT
Sweet PDZ Zeolite Powder
$51.91 ($0.09 / Ounce)
03/11/2024 10:18 pm GMT
33Lb. Bag of Grade A Premium Hemp Bedding
$62.95 $58.95 ($0.11 / Ounce)
03/11/2024 05:03 am GMT
Farnam Chew Stop Aerosol
$19.99 $17.58

Helps to stop your horse from eating the barn and fencing

04/08/2024 09:03 pm GMT
04/08/2024 09:12 pm GMT
FORTEX INDUSTRIES Feed Saver Ring
$14.61

Great to use with buckets to discourage cribbing

04/10/2024 07:03 pm GMT
Equiessentials Slow Feed Hay Ball Large
$155.18 $131.24 ($131.24 / Count)
03/10/2024 11:08 pm GMT
04/10/2024 09:08 pm GMT
04/14/2024 02:19 am GMT
Hydrophane Cribox 8 oz. tub - 8Oz
$23.95

This thick paste discourages chewing

03/12/2024 09:28 am GMT
Shires Right Angle Scratcher Panels Set of 3
$44.99 $39.95 ($13.32 / Count)
03/11/2024 07:38 am GMT
3.0 CUFT Pine Bedding
$27.56 ($27.56 / Count)
03/11/2024 08:38 am GMT
HayPlay Slow Feed Bag XL – GG Equine

One side of this innovative slow feeder is solid - perfect for pastures! It will hold a small bale of hay.


Use code 15PROEQUINE for sitewide savings on slow feeders and more.

HayPlay Slow Feed Bag – GG Equine - 2 sizes available

2 sizes of this slow-feeding hay toy - snack size holds a few flakes, and the half size holds 1/2 bale.


Use code 15PROEQUINE for sitewide savings on slow feeders and more.

Noble Equestrian Adjustable Wave Fork
$52.95 ($52.95 / Count)

Now picking stalls can be more colorful.

05/07/2024 04:20 pm GMT
Noble Equestrian Adjustable Wave Fork
$52.95 ($52.95 / Count)

Nothing says posh like a gold colored manure fork.

04/12/2024 01:05 pm GMT
Toolwiz Magnetic Sweeper with Wheels, 50 Lbs Capacity
$72.97

You will be amazed at what the ground will throw at ya.

04/12/2024 12:59 pm GMT
04/10/2024 08:03 pm GMT

 

Thank you!