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Why Do Horses Lay Down?

Written by Rachael Kraft

It's fun to discover your horse lying down in his stall enjoying a snooze.  Usually, you only get a brief glimpse before they stand up to say hello. On an average day, horses spend about 90% of their time standing up, which is why seeing your horse lying down can be a surprising sight.a brown horse lying down in a pasture

Seeing a horse laying down might make you wonder: “when do horses lay down?” or “what does it mean when a horse lays down?” You might even start to worry when you see your horse lying down on the ground for the first time. 

However, normally, there’s no need to worry. Horses usually lay down for a couple hours each day during deep sleep, or when they feel safe and relaxed. Your horse might lie down if he’s very tired after a long training session. Lying down is a normal and healthy behavior for horses, and most of the time it means your horse is calm, sleepy, and relaxed. 

What Does It Mean When a Horse Lays Down?

There are three main reasons why horses lay down. Here we’ll dive into all three so you can figure out if your horse’s behavior is normal or if it’s time to schedule an appointment with the vet.  

Reason #1: Your Horse Is Tired

A very normal reason why horses lay down is because they are tired. Just like their riders, horses get tired after a long training session and often want to find a nice cozy place to take a nap. That might be in the straw in their stall or out in the grass under the warm sun. Wherever your horse’s favorite naptime spot might be, if he feels comfortable and safe, it’s completely normal to find your horse lying down after training.

Reason #2: Your Horse Is Sick or Hurting

Do horses lay down when they are sick? Horses can lay down when they are not feeling great, when something is hurting them, or when they are sick. The faster you realize your horse is sick, the faster you’ll be able to help them feel better and prevent further injuries and ailments. If your horse is sick, lying down for long periods of time can actually be dangerous and cause further damage to your horse’s organs and limbs.  

That’s why it’s so important for horse owners to know their horses well and to be familiar with their behaviors, attitudes, and sleeping patterns. If you see your horse laying down more often than usually, you’ll know that something is off.

If your horse is lying down because he’s sick or hurting, there’s two common health problems that might be the cause – musculoskeletal pain and colic:

  1. Musculoskeletal pain can be caused by things like ligament and tendon injuries from excessive training, falls and accidents, osteoarthritis, or laminitis (a painful disease that affects a horse’s feet).
  2. Colic is a common disease in horses that causes extreme stomach pain and gastrointestinal problems. This is usually cause by a change in diet, overeating grain, or stomach hernias or tumors. You can prevent colic in your horses by frequently deworming and feeding your horse the right prebiotics. This injection can kill parasites and keep your horses digestive track safe and clean: Durvet Ivermectin Injectable