Poor management and physical problems can lead to a lack of sleep in horses and can cause serious injuries when they collapse. It also may result in behaviour issues such as lack of motivation, aggression or even not be able to learn. So, sudden behaviour changes can be a result of sleep deprivation and should be considered in the holistic thinking of finding the source of the behaviour change.
Think about yourself...About a situation where you needed to manage your daily routine (e.g. getting up in the morning, getting ready for work, driving, working...) after you had several night with almost no sleep.
You could not function as normal I guess, you were more impatient, very tired, maybe forgot something or felt less energetic than normal. Well, that's how I feel after a bad night sleep...
Believe it or not, our horses can suffer from a lack of sleep or bad quality sleep as well!!!!
I found a recent study about sleep deprivation in horses, done by a German Vet called Christiane Fuchs published here in 2019: equitationscience.com/media/the-dangers-of-sleep-deprivation-in-horses .
If you click on the link you find the whole article and video.
Christine Fuchs and her team of scientists at the Ludwig-Maximilian-University of Munich, Germany set out to research sleep deprivation in horses. She presented their findings at the 14th International Society of Equitation Science (ISES) conference in Rome in September.
Some of the results I want to copy here for you:
So, it is essential for the horses health and wellbeing and be able to perform well, to get good sleep. As a prey and herd animal they need to feel safe to do so. A companion who watches over the other can help to feel safe as well as knowing the environment is safe.
For a good deep sleep (REM sleep) the horse needs to lay down. They can sleep while standing, but it is not that "recovery" sleep as the muscles are still used to not fall down.
REM sleep is important to relax all muscles in the body for recovery, to be able to process learned stuff and get some rest. Similar to our sleep when we are really asleep and dreaming.
Often, when horses have a physical issue or injury they CANOT lay down due to mobility restrictions or pain.
Some facts about horses sleeping patterns:
And I know, nobody can watch their horse 24hours to see if it gets a good laying down sleep. If you think your horse might not sleep you can install an outdoor or trail camera ( there might be someone who can borrow you one....) to observe your horse.
Anyway, it is just something else we need to consider if our horses behaviour or learning pattern changes in a negative way.
Resolving sleeping issues include searching for the cause : is it in pain? does it feel safe? has there been a change recently in the environment or management? just to give you some ideas...
Sleep is important for us and for our horses!!!! For happy horses and a joyful riding experience as well as for good performance and the ability to learn.
If you have any questions or comments please contact me or leave a comment here:).
If you want to discus your horses behaviour issues with me: I am happy to help!
Thank you for your interest and I see you here next week!
I want to start this episode with a question:
Is there really something like "bad behaviour" or even aggression in horses? Is that natural for horses to be aggressive sometimes?
How would YOU describe bad behaviour in your horse or horses in general?
Is it something like pushing into you when leading it from the paddock? Is it pulling against the reigns? Biting while you saddle it? Running over you when you open the gate to the paddock?
Kicking against the whip when riding? Biting when you want to feed it grains or supplements?
What is " just" bad behaviour and what is aggression? Where are the boundaries for YOU?
Let me know YOUR thoughts about bad behaviour in the comments below.
If we look at the history of horses, wild and domesticated horses, there is a lot within their behaviour that we either misunderstand (because we see it from a human perspective)
or we just don't not know about it.
If you are more interested about horse behaviour, have look here:
I want to start with a behaviour that can be scaring if you have to deal with it: Aggression
Aggressive behaviour is not nature for horses. Studies show, we barely see aggression in a wild herd.
So, why do horses develop aggression?
Horses can develop aggression for several reasons:
We sometimes also see food aggression as well in horses that have been starved for a long time, or their food has been restricted at some stage.
Those of you who gave a neglected horse a new loving home might have experienced that?????
So, how do we address aggression in horses?
First we need to do research about the WHY.
That means e.g. let your horse being checked out by a vet as there might be a physical issue (pain), a lack of minerals or nutrition, stomach ulcers...etc.
Try to get a more clear picture in what situations or environments your horse shows this behaviour.
Find the source if you can. If you have the source you can work on the solution. Get help from professionals to support you on this journey. Behaviour change takes time and needs be done step by step. If the aggression can be modified into a positive behaviour depends on the case, the cause and the history, as every horse is different.
Have you experience with a horses "aggressive" behaviour? How did you address it? Do you want to share your ideas and experiences here?
Please leave your comment here if you like. If you do comment please be polite and respectful if people have other opinions or have been taught different approaches than you have. Thank you!
At the end of the day we all do our best because we LOVE horses!
My inspirations at the moment come from:
Oh and please, if you have questions or wishes for the next blog please let me know!!!!!
I am happy to write about what YOU are interested in, this blog is for YOU and your horse!
this is Britta from BB HORSE CARE. I have already done (and still do...) a lot of research about the brain function of horses, the importance of the nervous system for my type of bodywork and also behaviour patterns in horses. I will post here a summary of information for you ( so you don't have to read all the books, or watch videos or join courses about all of this, like I did ). I will also share my experience of doing bodywork, especially energetic bodywork with horses with you and give you some easy to follow ideas or helpful links to support your horses health and wellbeing from a bodyworker perspective.
Please feel free to let me know if you have certain questions, or would like to know more details about a certain topic that I cover here. Always happy to hear or read from you.
Apologies if my wording sometimes may sound a bit funny, I am still improving my English as I am originally from Germany.
For more happy horses,