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Horse Behavior and Training

Dreaming in horses

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Reading through the Q&A, I came across a question about do horses dream. A recent personal experience has answered this question for me. I have a 16yr old pony mare which I have owned since she was a yearling, so I know her well. After a successful show career, I decided to put her in foal at a late age. As she came closer to the foaling date I decided to camp down at the barn with her to witness the long-awaited event and also make sure I was on hand if anything was to go wrong. I 'slept' with my pony (at a distance from inside the horse float so as not to be a disturbance in the event of foaling) for 10 nights. I have a soft security light on the side of the barn and this was on at night for 2 weeks before so she would get accustomed to the light. In the last 5 nights I was awoken by strange noises from her yard, like muffled nickering sounds. Obviously thinking it was 'time' I peered out from the float to observe her sleeping flat out on her side dreaming! This happened a few times in those nights leading up to her foaling (which ended up happening at 10.30 in the morning anyway). During these dream events she did not appear to be in pain or distressed in any way. I watched my mare 'dream' several times (without disturbing her) and am convinced that horses dream.

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I have observed similar muffled nickering sounds in a neighboring horses and assumed that was just a noise she made- sort of like the horse's version of snoring. Would be interesting to learn if they dream or not but dont see why they would not.