Question: How is it that horses can stand up and sleep. We are having an argument at our barn. I think it’s an old wives tale, as my horse stands but never seems to fully sleep in this position. We are also arguing about the effects of a light on in the barn all the time. Please, I need your help on this one, as our whole barn is at odds right now! Does sleep affect behavior?
Answer from April Reeves: Horses indeed sleep standing up. They use what’s called “Equine Stay Apparatus”, a system of tendons, ligaments and muscles in the horse’s leg. The lower leg joints lock with assistance from the above and the suspensory apparatus.
These parts work together to keep the horse’s legs in a standing, locked position. While your horse may appear to be awake, he is likely asleep enough to kick out at you if you were to approach him unexpectedly.