View Full Version : REM sleep & performance

Jan. 10, 2010, 11:59 AM
There was an interesting article in Practical Horseman this month on horses' need for REM sleep. Apparently they need about 15 minutes a day, and in order to get it they must lie down, preferably with a buddy on watch for them.

Now it's not news to me that horses need rest and that they don't like lying down unless there is someone keeping watch. However I was thinking about this article in terms of performance and the current demands on event horses.

I would guess some horses get used to the routine of travelling and going away to shows and after a while it wouldn't be a problem for them to lie down & sleep. But do other horses who either aren't used to the activity OR just aren't the type to settle lack REM sleep, and therefore have poorer performance?

Taking that further, I wonder if moving from a schedule of say, a couple shows a year and some vacation in the winter, when they could recuperate, to a full schedule of January to November with many shows & clinics and driving all over the country, could cause a major sleep deficit in the horse?

After all, I know I feel exhausted after a heavy show schedule, often having trouble sleeping in uncomfortable quarters or just plain lacking sleep - and it definitely affects my performance.