Horses rely on their legs for just about everything—they even sleep standing up! So when you see a horse lying down, there’s a good reason for it.
These long-legged critters were made for standing. The way horses breathe and circulate blood was designed for long periods of standing. In fact, if a horse is forced on the ground for a long time, such as if its leg is stuck under a fence, it can die from suffocation or brain damage. That’s why it’s important for horses not to break their legs!
Under certain natural circumstances, horses will lie down for a while. If they are tired and feel calm and safe, they may lie down for a nap. More important, horses can’t enter deep “dream” sleep without lying down—otherwise they’d fall over! Baby horses often lie down to sleep at their mother’s feet, and as they get older, they’ll start to stand up more.
You may also see a horse lying down if it’s sick. Colicky horses will rest on the ground to try to ease their stomach pain. Horses with foot or hoof pain will also lie down to give their feet a rest. This is a temporary grounding and will hopefully lead to the horse’s comfort and speedy recovery.
Chances are, if you see one of our horses lying down for a while, there’s no reason to worry. It’s probably just taking a load off! When it’s all done, it will be refreshed and ready to partner with you for your next horseback riding or vaulting adventure here at Rawhide Ranch, Southern California’s premier Western ranch camp!