A review of equine sleep; implications for equine welfare.

Linda Greening, Sebastian McBride

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal Articlepeer-review

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Abstract

Sleep is a significant biological requirement for all living mammals due to its restorative properties and its cognitive role in memory consolidation. Sleep is ubiquitous amongst all mammals but sleep profiles differ between species dependent upon a range of biological and environmental factors. Given the functional importance of sleep, it is important to understand these differences in order to ensure good physical and psychological wellbeing for domesticated animals. This review focuses specifically on the domestic horse and aims to consolidate current information on equine sleep, in relation to other species, in order to (a) identify both quantitatively and qualitatively what constitutes normal sleep in the horse, (b) identify optimal methods to measure equine sleep (logistically and in terms of accuracy), (c) determine whether changes in equine sleep quantity and quality reflect changes in the animal's welfare, and (d) recognize the primary factors that affect the quantity and quality of equine sleep. The review then discusses gaps in current knowledge and uses this information to identify and set the direction of future equine sleep research with the ultimate aim of improving equine performance and welfare. The conclusions from this review are also contextualized within the current discussions around the “social license” of horse use from a welfare perspective.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)916737
JournalFrontiers in Veterinary Science
Volume9
Early online date17 Aug 2022
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 17 Aug 2022

Keywords

  • Veterinary Science
  • behavior
  • equine
  • horse
  • sleep cycle
  • sleep deprivation
  • sleep quality
  • sleep quantity
  • welfare

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