Horses Sleep Lying Down

By Terry Golson

Yes, horses do sleep lying down. In fact, in order to get the REM sleep that they need to stay healthy, they need to be down for between thirty minutes and an hour a day. When out in a herd, one horse will act as a sentinel, scanning for danger, while others rest.

This is usually true even with stabled horses. But it’s a sign of how safe these three horses feel that they all dozed at the same time. (There are three! Max, the bay gelding is behind Talon.)

synchronized napping


Lowering her thousand-pound body down onto the ground puts a horse in a vulnerable position. See how awkward this is? And it takes time to heave oneself back up.



A horse that is anxious it its herd, or experiencing pain in its joints, or on high alert because of noise or a new environment will not lie down.

On the other hand, a horse that feels truly secure won’t even bother getting up when his person arrives. This photo was taken only two months after I purchased Tonka. My kind-eyed horse had already decided that he could trust me.

DSCN7490 - Version 2


Just like you feel grumpy and out of sorts when you haven’t gotten enough sleep, so will your horse. Providing your horse with clean, deep bedding in a stall that is large enough to stretch out in will enable them to sprawl out.

stall bedding


Like dogs, horses will twitch in their sleep. Some will even snore (watch this hilarious video.) I’m always happy to see shavings in Tonka’s tail. That means that he’s had a good night’s sleep.

4 thoughts on “Horses Sleep Lying Down

  • judy marvelli

    he is so beautiful and I love learning about horses now. I know very little about them

  • Jan

    Very informative blog.
    I know how the grey feels, lowering myself down and getting up again takes a lot of effort. ( my bones are telling me i’m getting too old )….:)

    I really wish I could send you some of our rain, they won’t dip the well until the weekend but we already know it’s going to be our wettest June for a very long time. Hardly any Sun our temps are 10c below yours. Hardly flaming June !!

  • Tracy

    Please forgive me for posting this link….but whoever the people are who own these horses….I love them. 🙂

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