Do you have a horse that you hardly ever see sleeping? Do you wonder how much time your horse spends sleeping? Horses do not need as much time for sleeping as humans do. Horses have three unique sleeping habits that keep them energized and alert.
The first way that horses get rest is by dozing. Horses do this while standing up and usually at the hottest time of the day. They are able to take a light nap while standing up by supporting themselves on three legs while one of the back legs is cocked. Horses who are dozing will usually have their heads lowered a little higher than their breast and will have their ears drooping slightly. Horses usually doze for about 2 or 3 hours scattered throughout the day.
The second way that horses get rest is by light sleeping. A horse will get light sleep by laying down with his legs tucked in, balancing himself on his breastbone while his head stays up. Although the horse is sleeping, he is not in a deep sleep and is still able to hear noises in his environment. Horses will usually spend 3 or 4 hours daily in light sleep.
The third way that horses get rest is by deep sleep. Horses will do this while laying down on the ground completely relaxed on one of their sides. The horse’s head will be on the ground and his legs will be stretched out. When a horse is in a deep sleep he is in a dreaming stage. This is the time that the horse’s muscles will be completely relaxed and the horse will not be able to hear the noises in his environment. Some people say that when their horse is in a deep sleep he will “talk” in his sleep by letting out small whickers or grunts. When a horse is in a deep sleep he will also have twitches of involuntary muscles in his eyes, nose, and limbs. This sleep time is the most important of all as horses only get about 45 minutes of deep sleep daily. Horses will usually get their deep sleep in nine intervals of five minutes spread throughout the day.
If a horse does not get enough sleep it could affect his mood. Like people, if your horse doesn’t get enough sleep he may become grumpy. Horses also like to sleep in groups and often are comfortable with rugs for horses to protect them from harsh environment. A horse will feel more relaxed if he has his pasture buddy with him when he sleeps. Horses enjoy sleeping in groups because one or two horses will stand guard while the rest of the herd sleeps. This is an instinct for horses because in the wild horses would have to keep watch for predators.