Can Horses Sit : Interesting Facts, Information & Analysis


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It’s well known that most equines stand for most of their lives. Does this mean they never sit down? No!! They can sit down but under certain circumstances. To learn more, let’s dive in.

Sitting is possible for horses, but only as long as they have been trained or aided. Therefore, they sit for a brief period, most likely while getting up after laying down. As a result, they sit up rather than sit down.

Sitting horses are one of the rarest of all sights. They have developed the stay apparatus that allows them to sleep or rest while standing up. Thus, they only sit for a few minutes while getting up from REM sleep. 

 Also, being huge in size, they cannot sit by themselves and might end up crashing to the ground if they try to do so. This is why horses can sit down only under supervision. 

Is it Bad for Horses to Sit?

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Since horses can sit down when they are supervised, is sitting for them really ordinary? Or do they sit for all-day long? Read on to know. 

Sitting down for horses is not always bad since they need to sit and lie down for a few hours to get deep sleep. But, sitting for extended durations can cause pressure on their vital organs which can be life-threatening at times. 

Horses are enormous in size; thus, sitting frequently can pose pressure on their limbs and restrict blood flow to other organs. Also, being massive, they cannot stand and sprint in case of predator attacks. This is why horses usually avoid sitting for longer durations. 

Why Do Horses Sit?

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Besides sitting to get a few hours of sleep, there are various reasons why horses sit. Let’s find out these reasons.

Horses usually sit to get REM sleep when they are sick, recovering from injury, sunbathing, while giving birth, and enjoying snowfall and rainfall. 

Due to Illness- Apart from getting REM sleep, horses lie down when they are in pain or feel sick. If they lie down excessively or for prolonged periods, it could signify that they are suffering from a minor or major injury.

For Sun Bath- In an environment where there is no threat to the horse, horses will lie down to relax in the sun. 

During Snowfall or Rainfall- There is no denying the fact that horses enjoy being in snowfall and rainfall. So, whenever they get the chance, they sit to relax in the drizzle. 

Horses Sitting Like Dogs

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Since horses can sit down for a concise duration, occasionally, certain groups encounter horses seated like dogs. At the same time, others argue that they sit like cows. Let’s discover the truth. 

To lie down and get up from sleep, horses sit for a few minutes like dogs. The cause of this is that their size prevents them from bending all four of their legs simultaneously. Hence, they turn their hind limbs first, followed by their forelimbs.

Do horses Sit Down to Sleep?

Although it is rare to see horses lying down for sleep, this is because they doze off most of the time while standing, or they usually sleep with their eyes open. But do they ever sit down to sleep? 

Horses usually sleep while standing due to the stay apparatus in their legs, but there is no denying that they sit down to get 3-4 hours of REM sleep. Besides sitting down for rest, they also sit for various reasons, for instance, when, 

  • They are sick
  • They are tired or
  • When recovering from injury

Nature has made horses with a unique ability that is called a stay apparatus. This allows them to rest or sleep while standing up. Their muscles and tendons are arranged so that they can put pressure on three legs while resting one of their legs while taking a rest. 

Thus they sleep most of the time standing up, but they do sit down to get a few hours of much-needed deep sleep. 

Horses Sitting position

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Since horses can sit down, let’s find out if they can sit in every position just like any other animal or if there are specific positions they can take. 

As per their comfort, horses can either sit upright or lateral position. As horses typically sit on hindlimbs with their forelimbs raised, they adopt the dog position.  

They also sit down on their sides, especially when they are about to go to REM sleep. Horses usually sit for a short duration; thus, much cannot be said about their sitting position. However, many findings have proved that they can sit like a horse. 

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