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Getting a Downed Horse Up: Essential Guide for Horse Owners

Why Do Horses Lie Down?

Horses are majestic creatures that have been loyal companions to humans for centuries. They are an integral part of human history, and their contribution to farming and transportation cannot be overstated. Horses have also played a significant role in sports and entertainment, serving as athletes and performers. However, despite their importance, there are still many things we don’t know about them.

In this article, we will explore the reasons why horses lie down and the health concerns related to this behavior. We will also examine the sleeping patterns of horses and the evolution of their sleep patterns.

Stages of Sleep

Every animal, including humans, has a natural sleep cycle that consists of several stages of sleep. Horses are no different.

There are two main stages of sleep: slow-wave sleep (SWS) and rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. During SWS, the brain slows down, and the muscles relax. This is considered the first stage of sleep and is characterized by slow, rolling eye movements. It is during this stage that the body restores itself.

Slow-wave sleep is critical for physical restoration, as it allows the body to heal and recover from the day’s activities. Horses usually lie down during this stage of sleep.

REM sleep, on the other hand, is the stage where dreams occur. The eyes move rapidly, and the brain activity increases. During this stage, the body is essentially paralyzed, and the mind is active. REM sleep is essential for cognitive restoration, as it enhances learning and memory.

When Do Horses Sleep?

Horses are polyphasic sleepers, which means they sleep in short periods but several times a day. Unlike humans, horses do not sleep in a 24-hour cycle. Instead, they sleep for around three to four hours a day, usually in short, 15 to 20-minute intervals.

Horses can sleep standing up or lying down, depending on their level of fatigue. Horse’s sleep patterns evolved to survive

Horses are prey animals, and as such, they have evolved to sleep in short intervals to ensure that they are always on the alert for danger. This trait developed to protect them from predators as they sleep. Horses are also herd animals, and their sleep patterns have evolved to ensure that there is always at least one member of the group awake to sound the alarm in case of danger.

This teamwork of the herd is essential for the survival of the group.

Health Concerns Related to Horses Lying Down

Sickness and Pain

If your horse is lying down more than usual, it may be a sign that they are sick or in pain. Ongoing pain can be a sign of an illness or injury, and it’s important to have your horse checked by a veterinarian immediately. The horse may also have neurological damage or a muscle injury that needs attention.

Laying Down and Rolling Is One Sign of Colic

Colic is a digestive issue that can be life-threatening for horses. If your horse is lying down excessively and rolling, it could be a sign of colic. Overeating grain or poor-quality hay can cause colic. If you notice these symptoms, call your veterinarian immediately.

Horses Lie Down When They Are Tired

Like humans, horses get tired after a day’s activity. Lying down for a short period is a natural way for them to rest and recover. However, if you notice your horse lying down repeatedly for longer periods or showing other signs of concern, it is important to take them to the veterinarian to rule out any serious health issues.

In Conclusion

Horses are incredible animals that have unique sleeping patterns. Understanding the reasons why horses lie down and the health concerns related to this behavior is essential for their well-being.

While it’s normal for horses to lie down, keep in mind that excessive laying down can be a sign of an underlying health issue. Take the time to observe your horse’s behavior regularly and take action when needed.

Remember that horses are intelligent creatures that have played a significant role in human history. Let’s take care of them as they have taken care of us for centuries.

How To Get A Horse Up That Is Down

Dealing with a horse that is down is a matter of urgency. A horse that remains down for too long can suffer from serious health conditions such as muscle damage, urine retention, poor blood circulation, and kidney failure.

Therefore, it’s essential to know how to get a horse up that is down. However, it’s important to note that these methods should only be used with the aid of an experienced horseman.

How Long Is Too Long For A Horse To Lie Down?

A horse lying down for an extended period can suffer from muscle damage because the weight of the body can cause the muscles to compress. Depending on the position taken, the compression on the muscles can cause a restriction on the blood flow in the leg, leading to poor blood circulation. This reduced blood supply can ultimately result in muscle damage, and the horse may have difficulty rising even after a short rest.

Moreover, when a horse is down, it may become dehydrated due to difficulties in fluids passing through its body. This can lead to urine retention, which could ultimately result in kidney failure.

When a horse has happened to lie down for an extended period, it’s worrying as it could lead to severe repercussions to its health. Therefore, it’s essential to keep an eye on how long a horse has remained down. If a horse is down for more than 30 minutes, it’s time to intervene, as the longer the horse is down, the more significant the risk of health-related issues.

How Do You Get A Horse Up That Is Down?

The method used to get a horse up that is down depends on the horse’s condition and its surroundings. Its crucial to keep the process safe for the horse and anyone assisting.

The first thing to do is to remain calm and assess the situation. If the horse is in a clear and safe area, there are several methods to get the horse up.

The first step is to approach the horse calmly and place a halter on its head. The horse may feel trapped if sudden movement is involved; this action requires patience.

Next, attach a lead rope to the halter and keep the rope’s tension to encourage the horse to try to stand. If the horse is too weak to stand or has suffered an injury, cover it with blankets to keep it warm.

If the horse cannot rise by itself, you may use soft ropes on its legs to aid in pulling the horse up, which should be attached to the lead rope. However, it’s essential to ensure that the ropes are not too tight to cause any damage to the horse.

Another method of getting a horse up is to roll the horse. The process involves four or five people rolling the horse to put it back on its feet. Ensure that each person in the group understands their role and that it is done smoothly and calmly, without shock or panic as sudden movement might result in injuries to the horse. The rolling process aims to help the horse find its natural balance on its feet.

Only Use These Methods With The Aid Of An Experienced Horseman

It’s important to only implement these methods with the help of an experienced horseman. A horse is a large and powerful animal that can quickly turn dangerous even when it appears calm. The horse’s weight and the difficulties it may have in trying to rise may make the process dangerous. Furthermore, it’s essential to understand that horses may carry hidden injuries that might lead to added complications during the process.

An experienced horseman will know how to apply the methods safely and minimize any risk to the horse, the owner, or anyone around them. Train under experienced horsemen to understand how to best approach the horse.

In conclusion, horses that remain down for too long can suffer from severe health conditions. Therefore, it’s essential to know how to get a horse up that is down carefully.

An experienced horseman should only implement this process to ensure that the safety risks are minimized. Horses are powerful animals that need to be handled with care to reduce the chances of injury to both the owner and the horse.


  • Why do horses lie down? Horses lie down to sleep and rest.
  • How long is too long for a horse to lie down? If a horse lies down for more than 30 minutes, it could be a sign of health-related issues.
  • What are the health concerns related to horses lying down? Some health concerns include muscle damage, urine retention, poor blood circulation, and kidney failure.
  • How do you get a horse up that is down? You need to approach the horse calmly and use a halter and lead rope, or soft ropes attached to the lead rope. You can also roll the horse to help it regain balance carefully.
  • Why should the process of getting a horse up be approached with the help of an experienced horseman? Horses are large and powerful animals that can turn dangerous even when they appear to be calm, and hidden injuries may lead to added complications.

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