The question of how horses sleep is of concern to many. First, there are many myths and fables about this. And, secondly, it is interesting how such a beautiful and large animal rests. Many are convinced that horses sleep while standing. But is it really? We offer to learn now.
How does a horse actually sleep?
If you dealt with horses and spent with them at least several hours a day, then the following picture will be familiar to you. So, the animal quietly and peacefully stands in the meadow (in the stable), with his eyes closed and one rear leg underneath. Then suddenly the ear was moved one way, then the other, then the tail brushed away the annoying fly, and the eyes remained closed. The question arises - is the animal asleep or not? In fact, of course, it’s difficult to call a dream, most likely, a light nap.
Standing dream myth
Many believe and claim that horses sleep while standing. But it is not so. By nature, in a standing position, these animals spend most of their time. Therefore, when there is an opportunity, they fall into a light half-sleep. They received this ability to rest from wild ancestors.
The fact is that wild horses could not afford to sleep lying on their side. At any moment predators could overtake herd. And in order to climb, a long-legged horse needs to spend a few seconds. Sometimes this time can cost a lifetime. That is why, even from the most ancient times, horses have learned to rest while standing, so that at any moment they can take to flight.
Also, this ability is associated with a special structure of the knee joints. When a horse wants to rest while standing, it evenly distributes body weight to all four legs. In this case, the knee joints are blocked, and the ligaments and bones are “clamped”. Due to this, the animal, even long standing on its feet, does not feel heavy. Moreover, complete muscle relaxation occurs.
Such a mount is easy to distinguish from another person just standing: his waist is flexing, his limbs are straight and parallel, his head is slightly lowered, his ears are relaxed. Also, as a rule, a little tail patch is lowered due to lower waist relaxation, the lower lip hangs down. But, of course, this is not a full sleep, but only a nap. Like all other animals, horses also need a good rest of body and mind. That is, in a full lying sleep.
Myth of a dream on the side
Understand how to sleep a horse, and what they have a full sleep, you can look at the foal. Yes, as a child, in safety, near the mother, the foal almost always sleeps lying on its side. But the horse breeder will not be surprised if he sees his adult horse in such a position. Adult horses also sometimes allow themselves to fall asleep, as they say, “dropping their hooves”. Moreover, they see dreams and even snore.
Scientists-zoologists are confident that only in a position lying on its side with a relaxed head and neck, the horses fall into a deep phase of sleep. However, due to its nature due to the large body weight and rather thin bones, the horses cannot lie on its side for a long time. Therefore, they usually sleep in such a position for no more than 3-4 hours. It is important to remember that in a position lying on its side for more than 6 hours the horses have pulmonary edema.
So, now the fact that horses sleep while standing and lying on their side will not be a mystery of nature for you. After all, you now understand the nature of the process and know when the animal is dormant, and when it is fully resting. Most of the time of the day horses spend on their feet and only about 2-3 hours can sleep soundly. However, for this they need to be completely safe.
If your horse in a stable never sleeps lying on its side, and still continues to stand, most likely, the animal can not relax. Many people think that a convenient stall, closed on all sides, is the best place to relax. But it is not. From the nature of the horse social animals, they need to always be in contact with their relatives. Closed space, on the contrary, in the eyes of a horse is fraught with danger.
Another thing is free grazing in the herd. Only in such conditions, very often horses can sleep for an hour or two, feeling safe.
How long should a horse sleep?
If a person needs about eight hours of sleep for a good rest, then 3-4 hours are enough for a horse. However, as practice shows, in a state of light half-sleep, an animal sleeps on average from 6 to 15 hours a day. With this mode, only 2 hours of good sleep will be enough for full recovery.