Nocturnal behaviour: An exploration of equine sleep – Linda Greening
Sleep plays a critically important role in the regulation of a range of physiological processes including neuroendocrine modulation, restorative functions, and memory consolidation. As a large prey species, the horse has evolved to need relatively little sleep in comparison to other mammals, however, this does mean that sleep is any less important to the horse.
For most mammalian species including the horse, sleep is largely governed by the light-dark cycle and circadian rhythms. The occurrence of sleep however can be delayed and interrupted by a multitude of species-typical external and internal factors. And, whilst the domestic environment offers more protection for captive horse populations than feral horse populations, it can also introduce a variety of factors that would not facilitate optimal sleep.
The purpose of this talk, therefore, is to:
- Explore what we know about horse sleep
- Determine influential factors within the domestic environment
- Understand the importance of sleep relative to equine performance and welfare
- Answer any questions
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