Do Horses Ever Lay Down?

Last Updated on February 22, 2022 by Allison Price

Horses can be ridden while they sleep. It’s amazing, but it is true. But do horses ever lay down? What does it mean for horses to lay down?

Because of their unique anatomy, horses can stay up while they sleep. This is because they are unable to fall over when they’re asleep. Horses are very vulnerable when they lie down in the wild. Let’s look at the sleep patterns of horses and discover why they lie down.

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Do Horses Ever Lie Down?

Horses are prey animals in the wild that live in herds. It can be dangerous to decide to lay down, as a sleeping horse could become a prey for predators!

Do Horses Ever Lay Down?

Horses have different sleeping patterns than humans. Horses sleep differently from humans. They sleep for a longer period of time each night, while horses sleep in shorter bursts during the day. The majority of horse sleep is done while standing. The horse may need to lie down occasionally to fall asleep.

Wild horses will have their sleeping arrangements in which they each lay down. Other horses in the herd will be on guard for any predators. Domesticated horses have retained this instinctive behavior. Your horse may only lie down in a stable where it feels safe. If you have several horses, you may see this behavior in your field.

What does it mean when a horse lies down?

Horse owners might see their horse lying down from time to time. But have you ever wondered why?

Sometimes horses will lie down to relax and express normal behavior. Other times, they may be experiencing discomfort or worsening health like colic. Understanding why horses lie down is crucial. This allows us to recognize when horses lay down for a rest, and not worry that they might be sick.

Horses can lie down in one of two positions. Two positions can be used by horses: sternal recumbency or lateral recumbency.

Lateral recumbency, which is the most deep type of sleep horses can experience, is what is needed to achieve REM sleep. The muscles are most relaxed during this time of sleep. Because they are most vulnerable, horses will only be able to sleep in this position for a short time.

They might lie in sternal recumbency longer. This type of sleep is lighter and more comfortable to wake up from.

How Many Horses Do They Lay Down?

All horses can lie down, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they all do. Most horses will lie down at least once a day.

First, don’t be alarmed if your horse is laying down. You should be happy that your horse has a normal sleeping experience and you have created an environment that allows it to lie down.

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Horses also lay down more during certain stages of their lives. Horses of all ages, including young horses, tend to lay down more than horses of adult age.

Understanding the normal behavior of your horse is one of the best things horse owners can do. Each horse is unique and may lie down more than others. Others will sleep mostly standing.

Keep a log of your horse’s behavior over the course of a week. This could include recording how often your horse lies down. You might be surprised at how often your horse sleeps when you sneak up on him. To observe your horse’s behavior, you could also take a video.

How long can a horse lay down safely?

There are no rules regarding how long a horse can stay down. Every horse is unique and the situation will determine how long it takes.

Horses can sleep comfortably on straw beds for up to an hour. Horses that are unable or unwilling to get up can have problems.

Horses are large animals that have a lot of muscle mass. This means that the blood flow and lymph (waste products), can be limited when horses lay down. This is similar to having a ‘dead foot’ after too much kneeling.

To prevent problems from happening, horses would naturally self-regulate their sleeping patterns. This restriction of circulation can lead to long-term muscle problems if horses are confined to one position too long.

It is vital to immediately contact your veterinarian if your horse has difficulty standing or seems unable to stand.

A Horse is Sick if It Lays Down?

Horses can sometimes be sick by laying down. Rolling is one of the most common signs of colic. Sometimes, however, a horse suffering from colic may lay down peacefully.

You should also look for signs that your horse might be suffering from colic. Have your horse eaten normal food and left behind normal droppings? If you are unsure, always consult your veterinarian if your horse is suffering from colic.

Horses suffering from pains in the bones, joints and muscles may also be able to lie down for some relief. You should also be aware of any signs your horse may be experiencing discomfort. These could include lameness, heat, swelling, or increased pulses in the hooves.

You should look out for signs that your horse may be laying down due to discomfort. These could include difficulty standing, stiffness, or stiffness upon their first stand. If your horse is lying down after sleeping, you will notice a stretch in their necks and hind legs. Horses love to stretch and are much the same as humans.


As we have seen, horses can lie down when they feel comfortable and will go to sleep when they feel safe. Sometimes, however, horses may become unable to stand if they lay down too long. Colic, a sign of illness, can also lead to laying down.

We would love to hear from you about your horse’s sleeping habits. Perhaps you have questions about horses sleeping? Leave a comment below and we’ll get back with you!Categories Horse Health and Facts

Allison Price
Allison Price

I’m Allison, born and raised in San Diego California, the earliest memory I have with horses was at my grandfather’s farm. I used to sit at the stable as a kid and hang out with my Papa while he was training the horses. When I was invited to watch a horse riding competition, I got so fascinated with riding!