Do Horses Sleep Standing Up ?

Do Horses Sleep Standing Up ?

Legend has it that horses sleep standing up. Surprising sleeping habits full of mysteries that have fed many legends. Take a few minutes, we'll tell you all about it !

Do horses really sleep standing up ?

Horses regularly take short standing naps throughout the day.

Contrary to popular belief, they do not sleep standing up. When they fall into sleep, they are forced to lie down to fall asleep.

The most surprising thing is that they are able to lock their legs so that they don't fall backwards while sleeping ! This position allows them to make potential predators believe that they are still awake and therefore less vulnerable.

Resting Horse

Horses sleep less than humans

Horses do not need as much sleep as we do : 5 to 7 hours of rest a day is sufficient.

The amount of sleep they get changes throughout their lives : younger horses can sleep more than half the day, while older horses only need a few hours of sleep per day.

Their sleep is not timed to the onset of night, they sleep a little when they want to, in short naps. Lucky them !

Horse Sleeping

Why do horses sleep standing up ?

In stables, horses are often seen sleeping upright rather than lying down.

Horses have the ability to lock their leg joints (kneecaps and femurs). This means that they can support several hundred kilos without flexing and without tiring their muscles.

This feature existed long before the domestication of the species, 6,000 years before our era.

It is very useful for horses, as it allows them to escape quickly if a predator approaches (as they take several seconds to get up). However, horses sometimes lie down to rest (3 hours of sleep is enough for them) when they feel completely safe.

Other herbivores sleep in the same way, such as zebras, giraffes, antelopes and buffaloes.

Horse Sleeping Standing Up

Some tips to improve your horse's sleep and rest :

  • Surround them with their peers : He will feel more secure, reassured and will find it easier to feel confident and therefore rest if he is close to a group rather than isolated.
  • Learn more about his needs : When a horse arrives at a new location, it may take several days before it is ready to lie down. He needs to get to know his environment to sleep better. Give him time to get used to the place.
  • Take care of the quality of the environment : A sufficiently large, quiet stall and a suitable floor will help your horse sleep well. A quality feed that is adapted to the amount of work you ask of him.

Finally, take care of your horse's sleep quality and daily well-being : soft bedding, quality food, a space away from noise and stress, close to or surrounded by other horses and with all the attention he deserves from you.


By Luisina Giovannini

I created Horse Placenta with the aim of showing all the beauty of this incredible animal which is the horse. I hope you have enjoyed reading this article. I invite you to continue reading to find out more.


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