The Undervalued Recognition of REM sleep in Horses & Unwanted Behaviors

 The Undervalued Value of Equine Sleep


Many mornings after breakfast around 10 am as I'm working horses I notice those still in the pasture tend to lay down and enjoy a mid-morning snooze.  Although it may seem "cute," it is crucial feedback as to the horse's level of mental, emotional state, and their level of safety. 

The horse's comfort with the human is also reflected if when lying down he can acknowledge your presence, without re-actively bouncing up from his vulnerable position.

In all horses I meet, but especially in extreme behavioral cases, one of the many things on my checklist is to assess if the horse is getting enough QUALITY "sleep" time. Many horses are so defensive and anticipative, they literally cannot let down enough emotionally, to physically lie down. 

Although horses can sleep while standing up, to reach a REM state, they must lie down. 

Over the years I've found a major contributor to behavior "issues" can stem from sleep deprivation.

Many fearful horses cannot find a "safe" time/location to sleep, this can lead to a variety of dramatic and inconsistent behaviors that seem unaffected or unable to absorb new experiences.

I believe it is one of the most underassessed, and overlooked aspects of the horse's health and well-being.

Have you noticed if:

*you see your horse lie down?

* when?

* for how long?

* always in the same location?

It could be a contributing factor in your horse's mental health if he is always uneasy, hyper alert, or a highly reactive horse.

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