Why Do Horses Sleep Standing Upright?

If you’re the owner of a horse, you could have spotted that these huge animals have quite odd sleeping habits. Not like other pets, horses have unique sleeping patterns which may seem confusing if you’re a fairly new owner, however there’s often no reason to be concerned if you spot odd horse sleeping.

Sleep is vitally important – to horses and humans alike – and to ensure that horses sleep very well is a crucial part of animal welfare. By keeping your horse in a stable, we’re interrupting the animal’s natural behaviour and therefore it’s necessary for us to know how horses get enough sleep and how we can help.

Most individuals who have been around horses know that they are able to sleep standing up. Horses have the ability to lock large joints in their limbs. This physical activity is known as “stay” and is common among other large land mammals and birds. This includes cattle, elephants as well as giraffes. What these creatures have in common is that they are very big and are hunted by predators. They have evolved this way as if a predator attacks while they’re resting, they are able to run away more quickly if they’re standing up as opposed to lying down.

“Stay apparatus” is an interaction between muscles, sinews as well as ligaments so that the horse is able to remain upright without any muscular activity. In addition, the body is able to rest. The horse is able to distribute its weight between three limbs rather than of four and then rest one foot while sleeping in an upright position. Horses often relax one of their hind legs.

How Long Do Horses Sleep For?

Horses are infamous for surviving with negligible amounts of sleep. These magnificent beasts only sleep for around three hours within a 24-hour period however never rest for large periods of time. Younger foals may sleep more as opposed to adult horses.

A few minutes’ nap is all that a horse needs at a number of different points of the day, but over the duration of 24-hours, these minutes need to add up to a total of three hours’ sleep.

Remember that it’s always a great idea to cover your horse if an injury occurs while they’re sleeping. This can assist with protecting yourself from the financial costs of obtaining medical treatment for your horse, as well as make sure that your pet is happy as well as healthy.

Well-Being Affects Performance

The importance of sleep is like the perfect hand, as well as taking good care of a horse it cannot be overestimated. The objective of those who keep horses always should be to offer an environment for them that is as near to their natural environment as it possibly can be.

This will promote the horses’ well-being and – as a result – have a positive effect on their performance. It could be interesting if more studies on the effect of a horse’s surroundings should be carried out so that we would be able to learn more about how best to care for – and enjoy – the company of “our most loyal servants” for years to come.


About Doreen Cohen