Do Horses Lay Down : Detailed Analysis and Critical FAQs


Do Horses Lay Down : Detailed Analysis and Critical FAQs

You must have known that horses slept, most of the time while standing for defensive purposes. But, you must be curious to know if they could lie down? Or Is it ok for a horse to lay down? Let’s discuss this. 

Horses can sleep lying down. In fact this is completely normal for a horse to lay down. But, being huge in size they wouldn’t be able to get up quickly to run from predators. Also, lying down for longer durations can cause stress on their vital organs. This is why they only lie down when they need REM sleep. 

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Laying down can also restrict the blood flow. This is why nature has given this animal the ability to relax in a standing position (also called stay apparatus) with little fatigue. 

Why do Horses Lay Down?

Although laying down for the horse is completely normal. But, it is important to know the behavioral patterns of horses, as to why they lay down. Let’s explore the top 3 reasons why horses lay down. 

1. Horses lay down to enter deep sleep

Horses have special sleeping patterns. This is because most of the time horses doze while standing, while at the same time standing, they do have to lay down for REM sleep. Most horses usually need between a few hours of REM rest in a day. This is ordinarily done in short naps that last ten to thirty minutes all at once!

2. When they’re sick or in pain

Besides laying down for REM sleep, horses also lie down when they are experiencing pain or recovering from the sickness. Like humans, they lay down to recover  from pain. Also, during sickness, they often sleep for longer durations while laying down. This is how horse owners can know if the horse is having medical issues or in some sort of muscular or joint pain. 

3. When they are tired

Horses also lay down when they feel tired or need some relaxation or comfort. Usually, draft horses or working horses require a quick nap after a long tiring day. They feel relaxed after spending some time laying down on the grass on a sunny day. But, they only lay down in an environment in which they feel safe and warm. 

Do Horses Sleep at Night?

Now we know that horses can sleep standing up as well as laying down, but whether they take proper sleep at night as humans or other animals do is still a matter of concern. Read on to know more about them.

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Horses Don’t sleep all night as we do. Rather than falling into a deep sleep each night, horses usually spend their night by shifting positions. They may take a short nap standing up, and then lay down for a couple of hours to take REM sleep. 

Horses are prey animals hence they are more alert during the night. This is why they don’t require longer night sleep times and only doze while in a standing position. But, under certain circumstances, they can sleep for a short duration of time. 

Is it Ok for a Horse to Lay down?

There are several misconceptions about horse laying down behavior. Read on to know more about them. 

Laying down for the horse is usually normal. However, laying down for longer durations can be risky! Since horses are such enormous creatures, resting for expanded time frames can limit the bloodstream to significant organs and limbs. 

How Often Do Horses Lay Down?

Now we know why horses lay down but how often do they lay down is still a question that is left unanswered. Let’s explore this together to know how often they lay down. 

Horses lay down quite often to get deep sleep. They spend a few minutes to several hours lying down to get REM sleep. Without this essential REM sleep, horses fall prey to sleep deprivation and can be a major cause of deteriorating the horse’s health. 

Do Horses Sleep With Their Eyes Open?

When it comes to sleep, horses are somewhat different from humans. But, whether they sleep with their eyes open or closed is still a matter of debate. Read on to know if horses can sleep with their eyes open. 

Horses can sleep with their eyes open. This is particularly because they are always on predator alert. Thus, they lay down with their eyes open to pay special attention to a predator. However, they can also sleep with their eyes closed or half-opened. 

Thus besides sleeping in a standing position horses have the ability to sleep with their eyes open. However, the eye position also indicates the quality of sleep. While an open eye indicates light sleep, closed eyes mean deep sleep. 

Do Horses Lay Down During the Day?

Generally, horses do not lay down during the day but their sleeping habits can vary according to the different circumstances. Let’s explore to know when your horse can lay down during the day. 

Horses do lay down during the daytime! The horse’s sleeping habits will generally rely upon their daily routine. If you work them for most of the day, they’ll be bound to rest around evening time. 

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Likewise, if they have the days to themselves, they’ll adjust to the sleep routine they feel more comfortable with. 

The sleeping habits and the hours during the day also depend upon horse health conditions and the age factor. Since, most of the ponies or old horses lie down for more hours during the daytime. 

Do horses Lay Down on their Sides?

Now you already know that mares lay down on their sides to give birth. But apart from giving birth do they lay down on their sides? Let’s see if they can lie on their sides. 

Horses do lay on their sides but only when they are given appropriate training. This is because they spend most of their lives standing and don’t really know the different positions of sleep while laying down. 

How Many Hours a Day Do Horses Lay Down?

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Sleep requirements in horses remain mostly unknown because of the horse’s different sleep habits and positions.  Let’s figure out how many hours in a day they can sleep. 

Like humans, horses also require 5-7 hours of sleep, in which they only need 2-3 hours of REM sleep. However, this can vary according to the age and health of the horse. 

For instance- ponies may require more hours of sleep than grown-up horses. Similarly, old and unwell horses also require longer rest time. Most of the ponies sleep for more than 8 to 9 hours a day. 

Do Horses Lay Down in their Stalls?

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Most horses spend the majority of their day in stalls. This is because their personal space gives them a sense of safety. But whether they lay down in their stall or not is still a matter of concern. Let’s talk about this.

Horses do lay down in their stalls. This is because they usually lay down in areas where they  feel safe and secure. However, if the stall space is limited they won’t lay down. 

It is common for horses to not lay down in restricted spaces because if the space is too small thhe won’t be able to back up in case of a predator attack. In this situation, they might require some human help. 

Do Horses Lay Down to Give Birth?

Although horses spend most of their life standing, may it be eating, sleeping, or working. But, have you ever wondered, how do they give birth? Do they lay down or give birth in a standing position? 

The mare might be standing or resting as contractions start, but she as a rule will lie on her side for the actual birth. Also, exceptions are always there, as some mare might give birth while standing. 

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As said, mares only lay down when in so much pain while giving birth. But, they do not lay down for a long time even while giving birth. Generally, it requires 15- 30 minutes for a mare to give birth, soon after the birth, they stand up.

Do Horses Lay Down in the Snow?

Although there are some misconceptions that you cannot ride a horse in snow or when it is raining. This is not always the case, let’s know about this in detail. 

Fortunately, horses are normally seasoned to weather, essentially during the colder time of year. They are undeniably more tolerant toward colder weather than humans.

It is said that horses can sense the change in the weather and lie down whenever there is a chance of snowfall or rain. The reality is, they enjoy being in rain and snow rather than heat. 

Do Horses Lay Down in The Rain?

Unlike most of the animals that hate and avoid rain, horses love being in rain. This might sound somewhat different and weird. Let’s explore the reason behind this fact. 

Horses do love to lay down in the rain. In Fact they love being in the rain and lay down or sleep longer in the rainy seasons. This is because of the extra hay that helps keep a horse warm during snow and rains. 

But laying down in rain for longer durations can cause health issues. Thus, most horse owners avoid leaving them to heavy rains. 


As a whole, horses have a unique system of tendons and ligaments in their body. In which the major joints in the legs get locked,  this allows the animal to relax and catch some sleep without worrying about crashing to the ground. 

However, a horse’s sleep pattern indicates how they are feeling. Thus if you are a horse owner you should pay special attention to their changing sleeping behavior or positions. If they are lying down too much that must be a sign of injury or sickness. For this we recommend videotaping them so that you can keep a track of changing habits.

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