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Help Your Horse Sleep By Kentucky Equine Research Staff · November 14, 2011

Horses don’t seem to sleep much compared to dogs and cats that appear to snooze away much of each day. However, mature horses do require a certain amount—about four hours—of sleep each day. This needs to include at least an hour where the horse is flat on his side or in sternal recumbency with his nose resting on the ground. Foals tend to sleep more than adult horses, catching a number of naps spaced throughout the day.

To be able to sleep easily, a horse needs to feel comfortable, relaxed, and secure. Though stall-kept horses can adapt to light and noise, they sleep better in darkness or with only low levels of illumination. Continuous loud noise makes it difficult for horses to sleep, but soft music may help by muffling other sounds. Deeper bedding also favors comfort and better sleep.

It’s rare to see all the horses in a pasture group asleep at the same time. Being herd animals, horses depend on a few individuals in the group to watch for danger while others sleep. Lone horses may find it hard to relax enough to sleep well, and stalled horses are more likely to sleep well if they have a buddy or two nearby. Likewise, horses that don’t get along should not be stabled side by side, as this may make it more difficult for either to relax and fall asleep.