The myth that horses can sleep standing up isn’t entirely wrong, and this article will explain why.
HOW DO HORSES SLEEP?
An equine sleeps differently from a human. While most of us stay awake for roughly 16 hours in a day, followed by eight hours of sleep, horses prefer frequent naps. They can even “talk” in their sleep. They may grunt or nicker (a closed-mouth vibration), though this is far more likely in deep sleep than light napping. It’s perfectly normal behavior and suggests that they may be dreaming!
Do They sleep standing up?
Being a prey animal means a horse has to have the ability to escape a predator at any moment. Every second counts in these life-or-death moments, and a horse would waste valuable time getting to its feet. This is why horses have the ability to sleep on their feet, though they don’t get deep sleep on all fours.
The stay apparatus allows a horse to lock its large joints. This system means they don’t exert the same muscle strain humans would if we tried spending the night on our feet. Still, horses usually keep one foot off the ground (often hind legs) to relax one limb at a time.
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