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August 16, 2010

Horses lying down… napping or illness?

Posted in: Horses for the horse crazy

Only “Horse people” can truly appreciate this. It was a huge thrill for me!

Horses snooze in their home-away-from-home!

On the first day of a recent horse-camping trip to Vermont, the boys were so relaxed (or tired?) after trailering 2 hours then taking us on a carriage drive that they both took naps at the same time– AND they let me commune with them while they were down!

Gil and me “guarding” Glen

Though horses DO nap lying down (and standing up as well), horses in a group generally don’t all lie down at the same time. Usually at least one horse remains standing, to be the guard or “lookout” horse as per their wild instincts of self-preservation.

Glen feels safe with me…

…and so does Gilford.

Gil closeups

Our boys will often both lie down together at home, and when mom was with them they sometimes would all three lie down at the same time.

When they were babies and did this, we called them “pancakes!”

However, allowing a person to approach them while lying down is rare, even if it is a person they know very well– so I’d LIKE to think it was a measure of their trust in me to let me do this, AND to let Hubby wander all around near them taking these pictures. It was a unique experience for me and the highlight of my weekend with them in Danville, VT.

Hubby wanted a horse hug too!

Glendale close up

Horses are unusual in that they never sleep for long periods of time, like people do– they sleep in short naps throughout the day and night. I have never seen our horses get comatose for more than 10-15 minutes at a stretch.

Nice moment

So regardless of what you may have heard, seeing a horse lying down does NOT mean he is sick. It MIGHT, but If the horse is feeling ill, there will be other symptoms of discomfort besides lying down, such as rolling or getting up and down or biting at his sides.

Glendale next to me, Gilford beyond

But napping is very normal… depending on the horse’s disposition and inclination (some horses are just by nature more tense than others). Some horses, including even some race horses, will lie down flat on their sides to sleep.

I was ALMOST tempted to hop on!

Each owner knows his own horse and that horse’s nature and habits, so don’t worry next time you notice a horse lying down, just observe it for a while from that unique perspective!

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