How Does YOUR horse get his ZZZZZ's?

Author:
Publish date:
Updated on

Personally, I've always found horse sleep fascinating. While dogs and cats seem to sleep most of their lives...our horses need very little sleep, even to do strenuous work.

Image placeholder title

I hope you read the blurb on our March issue's HEALTH page on horse sleep ("Did You Know? Horses 'N ZZZZZZZZs," page 18). It's amazing to me that horses only require three to four hours of sleep a day!

Image placeholder title

As noted in the March-issue's blurb, horses do need to lie down to get that all-important REM sleep, whether they're stretched out flat on the ground, as the Paint Horse in the first photo or the dun horse (at left) or sitting partially upright with their legs tucked underneath them...as the Paint is at left, and the sorrel guy (photo, below left).?

Image placeholder title

So, we're curious: How does/do your horse(s) normally sleep, or do you ever see them sleep? I've only seen my horse, Memphis, lying down once or twice...ever (and I've now owned him for eight years). I hope he gets his REM sleep at some point.

I mostly see Memphis sleep standing up...via his "stay apparatus," as described in the March "Health" blurb. At my barn, we used to board a horse, who, while tied, would doze off to the point he'd start falling over. And simultaneously, I and all my barn-mates would yell, "DOMINO...wake up!," before he keeled over, hurting himself or pulling the entire fence down. (I do have to admit, it was rather hysterical though.)

I've also noticed that horses (obviously depends on the particular environment/set-up) tend to sleep at certain times of the day, almost like clockwork; i.e. the "herd" at my barn snoozes mid-morning. I suppose they must nap at night, too. If your horse lives within a herd, you might have noticed another interesting factor: As you know, horses are prey animals. In the wild, they never all sleep at the same time. I think this must be inherent in their nature, whether domesticated or wild.?

As most horses that live within a herd-like environment, they tend to develop special relationships/ friendships with particular horses. I've always been fascinated as to how they choose their BFFs (please share if you have any insight on this).?For example, Memphis' best buds don't seem logical to me. His one good friend (Lover) is a Quarter/TB Appendix. They have similar dispositions, but Lover definitely is the boss of Memphis. (Perhaps it's because they both share the word "Love" in their registered names! J/K) But, Memphis' other BFF is a stout lil' mutt of a palomino pony. When I've seen Memphis sleep, Pagosa (aforementioned pony) stands directly over him, as if he's on guard duty...protecting Memph while he sleeps; ready to sound the alarm if danger's abounds.?

I'd love to do an H&R feature on this topic; however, I'm not aware of any studies/ research about this. Seems like something difficult to analyze without any tangible evidence...so to speak. Wonder if Temple Grandin has done any research on this? I'll look into and relay my findings...if any.?

Image placeholder title

Try to ignore the mud, but this his Memphis (bay, at right) "cuddling" with his BFF, Lover. How did they decide to be best pals? It's a mystery to me. Memphis' register Jockey Club TB name is "Love a Dove"; Lover's is "Lover's Quarrel." Hmm...could it be a factor??I jest...I think.

So, tell us how your horse sleeps? Does he/she have a BFF and do they take turns watching/protecting one another while sleeping? And, any insight on how your horse became pals with his bud, present or past?

Forgive the barrage of questions...personal horse-behavior interest to me.

Thanks guys!

Alana :-)

Related