Snoring Horse

I arrived at the stable early afternoon. It was a rainy day and the horses were all inside. There’s something so peaceful about a dusky barn. But I heard a noise that broke the mood. I’m deaf. Cochlear Implants allow me to hear. When I first come across an unknown sound, my brain can’t make sense of the inputs. I have to see the source of the noise in order to process it. Once I can do that, it usually sounds normal.

What I heard in the barn sounded like a leaf blower. Or maybe a horse in pain. Or a piece of machinery inadvertently left on. The other thing about wearing CIs is that I have minimal directional hearing. Especially with an unknown sound, I don’t have a clue where it’s coming from. I walked down the aisle, on alert.

That’s when I saw Lano, sprawled out. His eyes were open and he was making the most awful noise. I didn’t panic. I let my brain make sense of the scene.

Instead of finding a disaster, I had come across a totally ridiculous and hilarious horse.

He was snoring. Enjoy.


  1. WONDERFUL….must of sounded very weird. Also proves to the sceptics that horses can sleep laying down. Very nice to hear you talking to Lano, its always nice to add a voice to a face….:)

    • Horses need REM sleep, just like humans. They only do that lying down. Horses only lie down when feeling safe and physically comfortable. When I see my horse with a tail full of shavings, I know he’s had a good night’s rest!

  2. That was great and offered more insight into horses. Amazing how as soon as you said his name, he was responsive. Horses are amazing and beautiful creatures.

  3. Terry, I will not be around for a few days, so I wanted to wish you a very HAPPY BIRTHDAY for tomorrow. I hope you have a great day, get to have a nice ride on Tonka and a lovely meal with the family. Best Wishes. :)

  4. Makes me think well of your barn that at least Lano feels secure enough to lie down and sleep deeply. I used to rehab and retrain ex-racehorses and I always took it as a big milestone when they finally relaxed enough to lie down, especially when there were people in the barn. I would often be asked what my plans were with such and such horse when I brought them to my barn and the person was always a little disappointed when I would reply that the first six months we would be doing a whole lot of nothing. Let their 3 or 4 year old bones finish hardening without stress, ramp down the high protein in their diets, lots of grazing, a very low key, boring and highly predictable routine, very gentle and very frequent handling, endless very ritualized grooming, and a calm and slow moving field and stall buddy for companionship. An interviewer once asked me what this retraining method was called…all I could come up with was “just letting them be horses”. (I kept an old Premarin mare lawn ornament for many years who would –without fail– slowly walk up to the most wild eyed newcomer and begin scratching their withers with her teeth, often within days of their arrival. I swear she did more good than I ever did.). A few of these poor creatures were such basket cases, that I’d put them in a huge double box stall and give them their own stall goat to bond with. One was so hypersensitive that I didn’t touch him with a brush for almost a year, instead grooming him only with a big soft car washing mitt. It was just all he could take. Only when they would doze in my presence, sometimes while grooming, would we begin the retraining, which started from zero. Slowing, slowly, most or all the neurotic habits –weaving, wind sucking, repetitive head tossing, cribbing, circling, etc.– would fall away. I had one colt who had come from a racing barn that did not offer water in buckets, but only from these awful rollerball nipples. When this guy saw the huge trough of clean, clear water in his pasture, he spent every day standing by it with his face half submerged, swishing back and forth, back and forth, long after he was full. He could not get enough of it. We had to refill it twice a day and the whole area turned to mud. When the barn manager asked me impatiently what I was going to about it, I said if he wanted to stand in the damn thing it was okay with me. It took him almost four months to finally trust that the water would always be there and to move away and start grazing. Finding one of these over stimulated beauties finally sleeping prone in their stall could bring me to tears. (Although I must say, I’ve never had a snorer!)

    • Those horses were so very lucky to have landed under your care. I know too many trainers – even (especially) the clicker training ones, who think that they can develop a relationship via the training. I believe in what you did – reduce the pressure to zilch, develop trust and a relationship simply by being. Give them what they need to feel safe and to express themselves as horses. Well done, Tracy!

    • Shocking! I didn’t know ex-racehorses are such traumatised sad creatures. What happened to them? Why are they so scared and neurotic? Please explain that to me.

      • Some are not traumatized, and some people do take good care. But, the ones that are: they are very young when saddled and ridden. This training is often done quickly, and the horses are immature mentally and physically. They are kept confined in stalls, moved frequently, and experience a lot of stress. That’s only part of it.

      • Terry is absolutely right, but I am not nearly so charitable about the industry. Thoroughbred racers begin being ridden way too young, some begin as early as 18 months, when their bones are not nearly hardened. This is because they’re expensive to feed and house for another year…they need to get out and earn money. They’re actively raced –extremely demanding physically– as two year olds and one race track vet I know well estimated that at least 50% develop some degree of stress fracture before they retire only a year or two later, for most. And I know personally that many, many young racers are given lasix to prevent their lung capillaries from bursting at the gasping stress and bleeding out their noses. The whole idea that some horses ‘love to race’ is nonsense– everything about track racing is designed to create complete fear and panic in the horse. Starting gates are tight and confined spaces, and for an animal whose main natural defense is to flee, this begins their panic. (Watch a race closely and you’ll see many of them having to be dragged into the ‘cage’ and others lunging against the bars to try to get out.) The starting bell is deafening, also designed to terrify and cause them to bolt. Horses feel safest in a herd, so they run in a collective panic and don’t want to be at the back of the pack, because the last one gets ‘eaten’ by whatever they think is chasing them. Even being whipped –usually on the rear flanks– is designed to make the horse believe that the predator has caught up with them and is trying to claw them down. For a prey animal, akin to a giant rabbit, that is all nervous system, this is incredibly stressful. Now do it over and over again, and many associate stepping onto a racetrack with terror. They tend to be handled brusquely and their every move tightly controlled. They rarely have any time at liberty, or in social groups with other horses as it might result in injury. They’re commodities, and when animals and money meet– the animal always loses. I’ve bought over 25 at auction over the years, and saved them from an equally stressful show jumping career, or, worse slaughter. All but three I’ve managed to turn into nice, safe pleasure horses, but it took months or years, and much, much patience and frankly, money. I wish it could have been a thousand. I apologize for the length of this reply.

        • No apologies needed. I don’t usually allow rants on my blog – but you have a right to. In response to what you’ve seen, you’ve done something productive and caring, and you’ve done it well.

        • Thank you both for your explanation. I had no idea about all this. I always thought these horses are valuable and therefore treated with care. The truth is upsetting. Yes, you are right: when animals and money meet, the animals loose.

  5. HAHAHA…!!! It wasn’t just your implants! That was a very noisy buzz-y snorer! It was hilarious, though, when I played the video here. My daughter took out her ear buds (she was in the livingroom), “What on earth is that noise!?” And my dog went crazy trying to find “It” and finally put his paws in my lap and just stared transfixed at the computer screen. I, of course, was laughing. Thanks for the smile!

  6. Terry when you told him he was snoring that horse looked embarrassed.
    I would also like to wish you a Happy Birthday – early but I won’t be near a computer tomorrow.

  7. There used to be a horse that slept lying down in a field I regularly passed. They finally had to put out a sign that said, “He’s just sleeping. He’s not dead.” I guess so many people were knocking on their door!

  8. I haven’t been in a horse barn for 10 years, but I loved your description of “finding” the sound and having to see it with your eyes. :) It’s exactly the story of my life. I don’t have CIs (yet), but I do have a continually declining hearing loss. So things that I can here stop sounding like they used to sound. So I have to keep re-learning the same sounds. And, yep, “seeing” the sound sure helps. (That’s the sound a motorcycle makes now?! That’s not what it used to sound like…. Well, actually, it probably still sounds the same — I’m just hearing the roar and the motor-sounds on fewer frequencies. Many thanks!