Horses do lie down sometimes, even in their sleep. A horse’s sleep cycle is polyphasic. This means horses actually go through multiple sleep episodes in a 24-hour period, some of these sleep episodes are so discrete, that you won’t even notice. Math and veterinary medicine says that a horse should spend one to three hours a day, lying down. So, even though they’re known for their ability to sleep while standing up, horses do lie down sometimes. Horses not lying down at all might cause some serious problems which we’re going to discuss below.
A horse’s lying down behavior explained
First and foremost, you’ve probably noticed that baby horses do lie down a lot. Actually, it’s true, a foal would spend more time lying down than an adult horse. The horse recumbency rate decrease with age. A horse usually sleeps wile standing up and that’s because his legs are designed to “lock” into place allowing them to doze off with ease. But this is not how a horse always sleeps. During more deep sleeping cycles, a horse lies down. REM, which is short from Rapid Eye Movement would definitely cause a horse to lie down. This is mostly because REM is the sleep cycle in which brain activity is increased and muscle activity is decreased. For humans, this is where we dream the most. For horses, if muscle activity is reduced, that means they have to lie down to rest. Horses experience about 1 hour of REM sleep a day, but they don’t only lie down during REM.
A horse refusing to lie down might signal a health problem
Yes, if a horse resists lying down during REM, it means he’s got some pain in the musculoskeletal system and needs to be seen by a doctor. Maybe a trauma to the knees and ankles can prevent them from doing that. Also, horses might not lie down if they find themselves in unknown and unfriendly surroundings. A horse who doesn’t lie down for an extend period of time might get drowsy and just fall from his feet during sleep. This is because if they don’t lie down, they don’t actually experience deep sleep and that means they are deprived off some really important sleep cycles.
So, horses lying down at times means they’re really healthy and feeling secure. If you’ve noticed he spends unusual long times lying down, then you need to have him seen by a doctor, because this could also signal some health problems and abnormalities.