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Horse that won't lie down

I understand that horses need their REM sleep which occurs when lying down. I have owned my OTTB for 19 years, ye is now 24 and I have never seen him lying down. He is out 24/7 for 6 to 7 months of the year and in at night during winter. He will roll outside in the field and does not have any difficulty getting up but he does not stay down. Have never seen him lie or roll in his stall and have never seen a speck of bedding on him which indicates to me that he doesn’t lie down.

Other than the occasional stall walking he has not shown any sign of stress. Stall walking would occur sometimes in the summer when I brought them in because of the bugs or occasionally during the night. Ulcers were ruled out and I often wondered if stall walking was caused due to change in weather.

Is there any information available that a horse can go through life without lying down?

If he isn’t showing any signs of sleep depravation like narcolepsy, if he is able to get down to roll, and if nothing has changed recently then I wouldn’t worry.

Horses need a couple of hours REM sleep every few days.

Unless you have a camera on him 24/7 you don’t really know what he does.

I wonder if they can sleep propped up against a stall wall?


I had a mare that came to me with muscle damage in her hind end. She could roll and get up, but she didn’t often sleep lying down. She would prop her butt against the shed wall and sleep like that. I don’t know if she got REM sleep, but she seemed fine other than the lameness from the muscle damage and being a hard keeper.



Many years ago I had a horse who would indeed prop her butt against the stall wall to go to sleep-that or sit on a bucket. Which did awful things to her buckets.

Imagine her surprise one night when the stall wall gave way and she found herself sitting in the yard…

Nowadays, we would inject her hocks and she would be a much happier camper.


Yes. I had an old gelding that had some failure of the stay apparatus in his front. He would back up to the fence and lean back. Kind of hard on the fence but he did finally learn to lay down…at 28yo. We replaced the post he liked to use as his recliner with a piece of power pole and 2 x 6 from that post out to the next ones.

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I have one, an aged gelding. In 5 years, he has never laid down. Will roll, seems to easily get up but no evidence of sleeping down. He does lean/sit on stall walls.

I have noticed at times that he likes to rest his hind end on his water bucket.

Since he is otherwise in good flesh and has survived with me for 19 years, he will be 24, I won’t worry about it. He did have some hock problems a few years ago which were resolved. He is retired now but only because I stopped riding.

He has his two aged buddies and they get along well.

I think he is probably lying down but you don’t see it. I have one like that and I rarely catch her lying down but she does. No where near as much as my others, but she does sleep lying down when she feels safe. When I had a great old senior gelding as the herd boss, she slept lying down a lot more. I think she doesn’t trust my other two idiots to keep her safe.


I’ve caught mine sleeping 3am, 4am…Times I wouldn’t normally be around unless I was checking for frozen waters during a blizzard or something.:roll_eyes:

I have never seen mine lying down in his stall at home. I know he lies down because he’s white, and he has pee and poop stains and shavings in his tail. I don’t think he likes being seen in such a vulnerable position. The only time I’ve seen him down is when he was in the horse hospital in the middle of a colic and he was terribly uncomfortable.

I have never seen any signs on his body that he has been lying down. Not a spec of bedding on his body or tail. In the past I have seen others lie down in the field and my old OTTB standing guard.