Because horses are prey animals, they don’t like sleeping on the ground. Due to their straight backs, horses can’t get up quickly. If a predator approaches a sleeping horse while it’s lying down, the horse may not be able to get up fast enough to escape.

Thanks to specialized legs, however, a horse can lock its knees and fall asleep standing up — without falling over! A horse’s fear of predators also leads it to do most of its sleeping during the day.

Just because a horse can fall asleep standing up doesn’t mean it never lies down, though. Sometimes horses will take naps lying down during the day. This gives them a chance to rest their legs.

On a sunny day, you may see horses stretched out in a field soaking up sunshine. When you see a group of horses lying down, you may also find one horse standing up, guarding the others and keeping an eye out for intruders.

Many people are unaccustomed to seeing horses lying down. Some police stations report that on particularly sunny days — when horses are most inclined to stretch out for a nap — they will receive numerous calls from concerned people passing by who think the horses are dead. Of course, these horses are just taking a summer snooze!


18 Join the Discussion

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars  (29 votes, avg. 4.21 out of 5)
    • You’re so AWESOME, Rithik! Thanks for being the very first Wonder Friend to leave us a comment on this Wonder of the Day®! We hope you enjoyed WONDERing about horses as much as we did! :-)

        • Welcome, Jordon! And, Great Question! We think that after about 30 minutes the horse would probably get up, unless it was really sick. So, it may be a good idea to phone the vet and ask for their advice. Thanks for WONDERing with us, Wonder Friend! :-)

    • Hi there, Sydney! We are glad that you shared something new with us about how horses sleep! Thanks for WONDERing with us and we hope you have a SUPER day! :)

    • Great Question, Jordon! If the horse has been on its side for a long time, this may be a sign that the horse is not feeling well. We recommend that you call a veterinarian. Thanks for WONDERing with us today! :-)

  1. Horses do not sleep standing up they lay on there side or on there stomach because if they sleep standing they could hurt there legs badly.

    • Hi Chris! Great thinking there, Wonder Friend. Please be sure to check out the Wonder article… it may surprise you! ;-)

  2. My favorite part was…………

    THE WHOLE THING!!!!!!!!!!!…………. but mostly the part about predators and prey. What was your FAVORITE and LEAST FAVORITE part?

    • Welcome back, MADY! Thanks for commenting! We really liked the whole thing. We can’t choose only one favorite part! It is interesting to learn that often a horse will stand guard if the horses are lying down resting. Thanks for WONDERing with us and have a WONDERful day! :)

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Have you ever wondered…

  • Why do horses prefer to sleep standing up instead of lying down?
  • Why don’t horses fall down when they’re sleeping on their feet?
  • Why do some animals sleep during the day, while others sleep at night?

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Try It Out

Speaking of catching some zzzzzs, do your children ever resist the nightly call to bedtime? If so, try some of these fun and relaxing bedtime games to make going to sleep a fun activity for everybody.


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To learn more about the unique characteristics of horse bones, listen to this interesting podcast from Science NetLinks.


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equine  predator  prey  sleep 

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