Many horse owners panic when they see their horses lay down flat in the field, but don’t worry! Usually laying down means they are comfortable and feel safe in their environment for a short nap. Here are the top three most common reason to why a horse is lying down.
The most common reason for a horse lying down is because they are sleeping or resting. Even though horses only need 3 hours of sleep per day, they regularly take short naps throughout the day while their deep sleep happens mostly during the night. Horses are a prey animal which is why they are also able to sleep in an upright position standing up to allow them to escape a dangerous situation. If you see a horse lying down while sleeping then it means the horse feel they are in a safe environment as this is a very vulnerable position for a horse. Horses also love sunbathing in the sun on sunny days, this is normal behavior in a healthy horse so there is no need to be worried.
They often lie down at night for their deeper sleep states (REM sleep), blood flow is restricted when they lie down which is why they only do it for their deeper stages of sleep. Wild horses that sleep out in open plains takes turns sleeping, some horses in the herd stay awake on lookout and then they turns to sleep for short periods. The minutes of rem sleep are of vital importance for them to good night’s sleep.
2. Abdominal Pain
If you see your horse lying down for long periods of time and resists getting up then this could be a sign of colic. Other colic symptoms to lookout for is: is your horse drinking water, passing manure, eating its hay or is it rolling over and over? Colic can be a very serious condition in horses and any colic signs should always be taken seriously.
Make sure you seek medical treatment immediately if your horse is not passing manure, eating and the horse rolls over and over.
The word colic makes many horse owners panic as it can lead to death if its a serious impaction colic. Surgery can usually be done but this is very pricey and there is no guarantee your horse will survive.
3. Other Physical Pain
Other common health problems that may cause your horse to lie down is musculoskeletal pain, single leg lameness, hoof abscess, overweight or other physical problems. If you see your horse lying down over excessive periods then it may be a good idea to check your horse over, is there pulsating or heat in one of the legs? Then it may be a sign of a hoof abscess. If you keep your horse turned out on grass also make sure to monitor your horse’s body weight as any extra weight will put more strain on the legs and ligaments which can cause severe pain over a long time.
How long can a Horse lie down for before it dies?
If a horse lies down for more than 24 hours, then the likelihood of it surviving is very small. The internal organs can’t handle the pressure of their body weight crushing them while laying down for a longer period.
Should I worry if my horse lies down for extended periods?
No need to panic! It could simply be signs of sleep deprivation. All horses are different and have different routines so if you notice any odd behavioral patterns of your horse in terms of them lying down longer than normal then this might be a sign of something being off or its just of the normal routine. Have you been away at a show recently, or has there been any potential stressful elements at your barn? Maybe a new horse that is dominating your horse? Its still important to look over your horse and make sure it