Horses are magnificently mysterious creatures and their behavior is as interesting as their appearance.
They say horses are alert and fast creatures which is why people, especially horse owners are wondering what they really do at night.
Do they sleep soundly the same way as other animals do?
Do they sleep longer than humans? Or do they remain more alert at night and less active during the day?
The answers to your question will be thoroughly explained as you read further.
What do horses do at night?
Horses are staying outside 95% of the time at night – eating, walking, and drinking if they have the possibility to do so. However, the more active they are in the daytime, the more they will sleep at night. Horses sleep upright on their feet so they can escape immediately in case of danger.
How do horses sleep at night?
First and foremost, let me explain to you how a horse sleeps.
Horses sleep standing up because it’s their easiest way to get some sleep. Why? Well, their natural instinct makes them think that if they are going to be attacked by predators, their best way is to outrun them.
And the only way to do that effectively is if they don’t need to get off their backs and onto their feet because that will be too time-consuming.
Everyone is vulnerable when sleeping, and this is how horses make themselves feel safe from their attackers.
What do horses really do at night?
Most horse owners believe that their horses sleep all night but in reality, they are either active during the day or more active at night.
In addition, they only sleep around four hours in every 24 hour period.
This will all depend on their activity, comfortability, and lifestyle. But in most cases, horses don’t fall into a very deep sleep at night.
They prefer to do their night routine by alternating rest and activity.
Oftentimes, they do this by taking a short nap, then standing up, grazing, then stretching a little bit before they actually fall into a deep sleep.
This routine of theirs only shows that they can spend hours at night from their stable just standing, doing nothing.
However, since horses are very active creatures, some of them feel the urge to run over their owners to get out every morning because they got bored from their stable all night.
The majority of us know that horses do best in groups. They are naturally herding animals and one of their many ways to keep each other safe is if they stick together and watch each other.
Also, horses rest in shifts. You will never see an entire family of horses sleeping together because doing so will lead them vulnerable to their attackers.
Their shifting routine is when those who aren’t asleep take the turn to watch and then switch for a couple of hours to make sure everyone gets a good rest.
How to make horses comfortable during their resting period
Since horses don’t get a lot of sleep at night, it is important to make sure they can rest well once it’s their time to sleep:
First, if your horse needs to be put in their stable for a long time, make sure they still have social interaction with another equine friend or have an activity that will occupy their time.
Some horses have temper issues and they get destructive if they are put in a stable for long periods of time.
You can give them different forages for their snacks, some toys for entertainment, branches or logs to chew on, and a straw bed to dig in.
This stuff will surely enrich your horse’s stable environment because as horse owners, it is our responsibility to keep them physically active and mentally healthy.
Since horses will be kept in an enclosed area for a couple of hours, entertainment and interaction with other horses are best.
Second, they need to have plenty of room to sleep at night because, during the daytime, they are actively walking around, eating, and playing so they will most likely do these during night time as well.
Night routines aren’t much different compared to day routines, but perhaps a bit calmer and quieter.
You also have to make sure that the stables are big and fitted with the right floor covering.
Horses prefer to sleep on a dry, soft floor with natural grass. You can opt for dry sand, wood shavings, or compost if you like since horses love it too.
Just remember never to use hard rubber mats because horses find it uncomfortable.
The third thing that you need to consider regarding their comfortability is how well they are accepted in herds.
Some horses are being bullied by other horses, while some show dominant behavior. In this case, you need to separate them from the others for a while.
In addition, young horses lay down more often than adults.
Whilst horses with health issues would lay down less.
If there are elderly or sick horses in the group, you have to monitor them closely to know if they are still comfortable enough to be in the herd.
If the said horse can eat and sleep normally, then no need to move them away. But if not, you may want to find another stable area for them.
Monitoring your horses is highly important to make sure their needs are certainly attended to.
- Lastly, adequate access to food and water is a must. It doesn’t mean that because it’s nighttime, their food and water should be less. They need sufficient food, hay, and room at night just as much as during the daytime.
It would also be best if you have a lot of feeding areas so eating time won’t be too overcrowded for them.
Spread out water and food so your horses can move around and eat easily.
A horse’s sleeping routine will usually depend on its activity level.
If you work with them and make them active during the day, then most likely they will be asleep all night.
In short, they will adapt to the sleeping time with which they are most comfortable.