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Hello, Matt: My neighbors have a horse, and they told me that the horse sleeps standing up. After that I tried to see if I could see the horse do that, and I think I did. The horse didn’t move at all and seemed to be sleeping. Are my neighbors right? Can a horse sleep standing up? Why would it do that? — Wondering Kid, El Cajon

True thing, Kid. Horses can and most often do sleep on all fours. Not too unusual in the animal world, but horses are the ones closest to us and the ones we’d most often see. I guess, compared to us, snugged up on a softie king mattress or a sleeping bag, it does seem stupid to doze off flat-footed, but from a horse’s-eye view, it’s smart thinking. Horses and other hoofed herd animals can catnap on foot for a simple, life-preserving reason: when that stealthy predator creeps up from the underbrush, they’re instantly prepared to leg it out of there. They don’t have to haul themselves up on their feet; as soon as they wake up, they’re ready to run, Horses descend from wild herd ancestors; we’re the ones who’ve penned them and isolated them from wild predators. They still have their old instincts.

Another good reason for a horse not to lay down for prolonged periods is because, as grazers, they have big guts for their slow digestion. Laying down, horses’ guts apply pressure to internal organs, including the lungs, and risk suffocation. So, a brief nap on the ground is possible. Extended sleep is risky. When a horse feels safe, it might sack out on a soft patch of grass or dirt.

So, howz he do it? Clever construction of a horse’s legs, basically. Their “knee” joints can lock in such a way that their legs can support their body weight without conscious thought. Their legs lock, and surrounding tendons and ligaments cradle their bodies like a sling, and they doze away.

Elephants, flamingos, giraffes are other famous stand-up sleepers. Giraffes sleep groundwise occasionally as babies, but after that, never again. No explanation needed, of course. Just imagine the trainwreck of a giraffe collapsing to the ground and untangling all that leggage to stand up again. Flamingos also use the knee-lock trick (actually, that big joint lump in the bird’s leg is its ankle, according to the science guys). But anyway, it locks its leg and dozes. Oh, and astronauts sleep upright, too, strapped in. And whales and dolphins have to avoid drowning, so they let half their brains sleep while the other half keeps alert.

Matt: It’s kind of a gross question, but that doesn’t make it any less worth wondering about. In the cold I can see my breath, but how come I can’t see my farts? — Matt, Vienna

Heck, Matt, it makes the question more worth wondering about. Everybody needs the answer to this, even though they didn’t know they needed it until you asked it. Consider it a public service.

A fart and a sigh might seem like twin exhalations from opposite ends of the same tube. But no, my friend. When you breathe out, you’re ridding your body of the by-products of respiration. Those by-products are carbon dioxide and water. When you fart you’re ridding your body of the by-products of bacterial action on undigested cellulose and carbs in your lower gut. These by-products are nitrogen, oxygen, carbon dioxide, methane, and perhaps hydrogen sulfide. More than 50 percent of your fart will be carbon dioxide and hydrogen.

So, what do you see when you see your breath? It’s the moisture you exhale as it moves from the warmth of your body to the cold outside. Warm air can hold more moisture than cold air can, so outside your body the moisture condenses and becomes visible. A fart doesn’t have the requisite water content, so we have no similar telltale butt cloud.

Hey, Matt: What if I’m blind and deaf and in a wheelchair, and for some reason I end up doing 10 to 20 in Sing Sing. Can I take my guide dog? And how do I keep from becoming someone’s bitch? — Blind Justice, downtown

Unless your guide dog was the getaway driver, he gets a pass on the incarceration. To end up in Sing Sing, you’d have to move to New York. You can launch a perfectly respectable criminal career here in CA, so let’s consider the local system.

Actually, there are plenty of inmates in wheelchairs, permanently or temporarily. Shot by cops, gangsters, their girlfriends. Or someone breaks both legs in a prison fight or basketball game. No other medical needs? You’re treated pretty much like any other inmate, except you have first dibs on the lower bunk. On the yard, you protect yourself the traditional way: get someone to watch your back. Attitude and a pal are your best safety tips.

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SurfPuppy619 Oct. 30, 2010 @ 8:31 p.m.

So, what do you see when you see your breath? It’s the moisture you exhale as it moves from the warmth of your body to the cold outside. Warm air can hold more moisture than cold air can, so outside your body the moisture condenses and becomes visible. A fart doesn’t have the requisite water content, so we have no similar telltale butt cloud.

============================== Yeah, but you cant light your breath on fire............


David Dodd Oct. 30, 2010 @ 9:29 p.m.

Re #1: No idea about the horses you grew up with, but horses lay down all of the time. Depends on the horse and the environment. A horse is most liable to nap on its side in its stall if there's a soft bed for it. If the horse is down for more than a few hours, then yeah, there's likely a problem. But they do lay down. In fact, especially when they're young, they even roll around sometimes, as odd of a visual as that might seem.


David Dodd Oct. 31, 2010 @ 5:18 p.m.

Re #5: Horses often nap off their feet. Don't care about Montana or the sky or farms in the Midwest. Horses often nap off of their feet. Next summer, spend some time in the barns at Del Mar, just don't freak out when you see an equine snoozing on its side. If the horses on your father's farms ate all of the time and didn't work much, then it's unlikely they would've been comfortable laying down, but working horses don't have a problem with it.


SurfPuppy619 Oct. 31, 2010 @ 6:14 p.m.

I wish I could get by on 3-4 hours of daily napping......


nan shartel Oct. 31, 2010 @ 7:55 p.m.

hey Mindy... I've seen those horses in the fields and that Refried guy is correct...but not about Montana being South....hahahahahahahaha ;-{}


Matthew_Alice Nov. 2, 2010 @ 12:21 p.m.

Oh,no Mindy! Don't go! We need you! This Mindy-Refried thing has to stop. We're scaring away the customers. Pleeeeeeeese stay, Mindy. Grandma will bake you your own special pie.....


Evelyn Nov. 2, 2010 @ 1:47 p.m.

Mindy, everyone's speaking from experience. No one has the same experiences. Get over it and realize that others might be right too.

And, btw, for Canadians, Montana is to the south.

on a different note, i wonder how one would go about lighting a fart on fire... and wouldn't this burn one's butt and/or body hair?


David Dodd Nov. 2, 2010 @ 5:40 p.m.

I don't target Mindy nor anyone else, I respond to the story and the comments. If someone leaves a comment that I find to be factually incorrect, then I'm liable to say something. Otherwise, why would I comment? For example, I've never tried to ignite a fart. I have no comment concerning fart ignition, because I have nothing on which to base an opinion.

In other words, were I to offer an opinion concerning fart ignition and someone found it to be incorrect and commented as such, I wouldn't take it personally. I would think that - as with anything, really - farts vary from person to person.


MsGrant Nov. 2, 2010 @ 8:07 p.m.

"A fart doesn’t have the requisite water content".

If you're lucky.


Matthew_Alice Nov. 3, 2010 @ 11:37 a.m.

Mindy? Hey, Mindy. Grandma asks, apple or cherry?


Matthew_Alice Nov. 3, 2010 @ 11:46 a.m.

Fart lighting (a public service notice from your friend Matt). The lightable gasses in a fart are methane, hydrogen, and hydrogen sulfide. We each produce our own blend, so we vary in lightability. Fart across an open flame like a candle. Have on hand water to extinguish the clothing that catches on fire and burn salve for your anus and butt cheeks that will probably get singed in the process. This is a true thing.


David Dodd Nov. 3, 2010 @ 4:24 p.m.

Re #15: I'll gladly take your word for it. I think back on all of the zany things I did in my youth and it never occurred to me to light my farts on fire. I reckon us kidz were all too busy with the sex, drugs, and rock 'n' roll aspect of youth ;)

16: This site is excellent in every way. It's a great publication and the online version gives everyone great latitude to voice their opinions. You need to go back and read your first comment here that states something about any horse laying down being a dead horse, and chase the comments up to this point. If you still have an issue, then I recommend you visit your local bank and get a small loan on some raw materials; then you can build a bridge; then you can GET OVER IT.


SurfPuppy619 Nov. 3, 2010 @ 7:24 p.m.

Yes, the Reader is such an excellent publication, the high-minded conversation of the day involves farting. How can you say that with a straight face?



I cannot say it with a straight face :)


a2zresource Nov. 3, 2010 @ 7:56 p.m.

Farting has something to do with global warming. For that reason, somebody out there thinks this is a serious comment thread.

Lighting them: sounds like something BP tried. Several times.


David Dodd Nov. 4, 2010 @ 1:27 a.m.

"But most horses will lie down for a brief rest every day, if they have a comfortable place to do so."

Isn't that pretty much what I've been stating in this thread all along? Why do you introduce unnecessary drama into the comments here? You could have reached the same conclusion after comment number three. Mindy, I sincerely hope that you continue to contribute here but I also hope that you not read more into a comment than at face value the comment deserves over-interpretation. I don't camp out on your comments here, and I don't think that anyone is picking on you.

Horses spend most of their time on their feet. One reason for that certainly is related to their guts. Unlike humans, horses don't throw-up when they get sick, they can't. They get tied-up easily. Often, horses die from it. But a working horse doesn't have a lot of weight to screw up their intestines when they lie down, so they're more apt to get off of their feet and snooze or roll around. One of the coolest things you'll ever see is a young colt rolling around in a sand pit. Like a big giant puppy.


Evelyn Nov. 4, 2010 @ 8:21 a.m.

i always find it way cool when i'm able to have a serious conversation about the silliest things, like farting. it's probably the one true sign of someone that doesn't take themselves too seriously.

also, i wonder if horses rolling around in sand serves the same purpose as a bird doing it, for cleaning purposes, perhaps? or maybe because getting dirty is just so much darn fun!


MsGrant Nov. 4, 2010 @ 11:23 a.m.

There is a book, which I have, called "Who Cut the Cheese - A Cultural History of the Fart" by Jim Dawson that sheds some fascinating light on the history of the fart. Its jacket cover tells us that "Farts have featured prominently in the writings of our greatest literary giants, from Aristophanes to Shakespeare, Chaucer to Swift, and Blake to Balzac". A great read that I highly recommend to my Reader friends who take their farting seriously.

As an aside, I must also make note that studies have proven that couples who break the "fart barrier" early in the relationship have a much greater chance of staying together.


angelp Nov. 4, 2010 @ 1:19 p.m.

"No matter how rude or nasty you might think they are, everyone farts, and that means everyone in history farted, as well. From the same man who brought you such flatulence files as Who Cut the Cheese? and Blame It on the Dog, Did Somebody Step on a Duck?: A Natural History of the Fart ($10) completes fart historian Jim Dawson's trilogy of gas past, from the world's first fart joke to a fart-obsessed Twitter user. Pretty much perfect for some potty time reading."



Reader_reader Nov. 4, 2010 @ 3:12 p.m.

Re #25.

My husband and I have been together for 14 years and we've yet to cross the fart barrier (notwithstanding the occasional accident!).

I love this aspect of our relationship. I take it as a sign of respect. Farting can be a real turnoff!


SurfPuppy619 Nov. 4, 2010 @ 4:40 p.m.

No matter how rude or nasty you might think they are, everyone farts, and that means everyone in history farted, as well.

My Dalmation has farts that are deadly. And I mean DEADLY!

She likes to sleep/rest by my feet while I watch TV or hit the internet, and since her farts are mostly silent I have no warning-then BOOM! It hits you like a brick wall, and there is nothing I can do but endure it.

But I love this girl, and there is NOTHING in the world she could ever do to make me feel otherwise.


MsGrant Nov. 4, 2010 @ 5:11 p.m.

Break it. Immediately. Or at least prior to your first overnight weekend together. Everyone does it. Contrary to being indicative of a lack of respect, the "clearing of the air" when it comes to bodily functions creates intimacy. Just not when the other person is brushing their teeth. That is just plain gross.


SurfPuppy619 Nov. 4, 2010 @ 8:26 p.m.

There's a product called "Fart Busters," that may help your dalmation, or switch to a higher grade food. Our old dog, Katie, used to launch such loaded weapons, my daughter used to say she should have been used to fight the enemy in Iraq. They would have surrendered instantly.

LOL....dog farts, they can be pretty bad!

I love my dog, she is so cooll!!!!! I will put up with her little farts, it is the least I can do. Funny thing is my other dogs don't have any problems with gas, just my Dalmation.


David Dodd Nov. 4, 2010 @ 10:10 p.m.

When I think about farts I think about my high school pal Lefty. Lefty's dad had a sign in their garage, and this was what it said: "Feel free to fart."

One time Lefty's dad beat me at ping pong. I used a paddle and he used a brick. And he beat the snot out of me.

Anyway, I think about Lefty when I think about farts which goes back to his second marriage. I think it was his second. I would ask him, but he lives in Spain now. Plus he discovered Jesus. People that discover Jesus tend to forget their past, especially when farts are somehow involved.

So, Lefty joined the Navy after high school so I didn't get to see him much, but he managed to marry this gal from Costa Rica, I think she was in the Navy too. I went to his folks house to meet them, they had a nice pool and a jacuzzi. I remember sipping a drink in the jacuzzi and watching Lefty and his new wife clowning around in the pool. They were fighting and laughing, I had no idea what it was all about.

Then I dove in the pool to get the heat off of me, and I swam by them. Know what they were up to? They were farting ON each other, laughing like schoolkids. While I would love to report that a family that farts together, stays together, unfortunately that isn't always the case. Lefty divorced her some years ago. He's in good shape though, Spain is treating him well.


MsGrant Nov. 5, 2010 @ 7:44 a.m.

Well, refried, the barrier-breaking method is not 100% foolproof.


David Dodd Nov. 5, 2010 @ 8:38 a.m.

So I've learned, Ms. Grant. So I've learned. My wife farts in her sleep. I find it endearing but I dare not ever bring it up with her. I wouldn't ever want to rock the boat here ;)


Founder Nov. 5, 2010 @ 8:47 a.m.

Contrary to some comments above, I do not think this thread "stinks". That said, although I am comfortable around others that occasionally pass gas but don't fart on purpose, I myself would not ask any of you to "pull my finger", at least the first time we met...

"Better Out Than In" Used to be the "Post" gaseous saying, back in the day.

BTW: In rural Indonesia, they all say, "kentut," which makes everyone smile!

And to "rectify" all debate about lighting farts, here is THE Banned Mythbusters video proof (ain't science grand?): http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-7308246594327434369#


MsGrant Nov. 5, 2010 @ 8:58 a.m.

Yes, I agree that in certain instances we must not "air" our awareness of another's innocent slip of a biscuit. It would be cruel.

Founder, that video was concrete evidence that what we all suspected to be true but did not have the guts to try ourselves is indeed a reality. Excellent work!!


MsGrant Nov. 5, 2010 @ 10:47 a.m.

A fun little toy I received as a gift at least ten years ago was a remote controlled Fart Machine. You hide it under someone's chair or cushion and you can activate it from at least twenty feet. We used it one time in a holistic metaphysical store in La Jolla. As my husband browsed through the posters with the Fart Machine concealed in his jacket, my friend pushed the button from across the store. There are at least eight different fart noises it can make, and the first one was a ripper. The lady standing next to him scurried away after giving him a dirty look, and my friend and I were laughing so hard we had to leave the store and were on the sidewalk crying with laughter. So, I guess the moral of the story is - farts are fun!!


Matthew_Alice Nov. 5, 2010 @ 12:35 p.m.

@Mindy: Glad to have your sensible commentary back on the thread. I'm a professional know-it-all, but to tell you the truth, I don't much like that particular pose. i try to laugh at myself/encyclopedic knowledge/I'm-right-therefore-you-must-be-wrong/all that kind of stuff. I hope I never disrespected you or anyone else, unless I tweaked such a boneheaded comment that anyone would have leaped on it. That's my story and I'm sticking to it. Please feel free to shred me, if I'm kidding myself.


Founder Nov. 5, 2010 @ 5:39 p.m.

Reply #42 I once attended an All Company required "Business Plan" meeting where the Fart Machine was placed behind the podium. The President of the Company figured out what it was after about the 12 "Report," but the VP had NO IDEA and as sound after sound was "released" the VP began looking about and rolling his eyes, as folks snickered and started to laugh/choke/cry. The audio "reports" then stopped for a while, giving the VP a chance to regain his composure and make a few behind his hand comments to others on Stage before the "reports" started again. Long story shortened, was that almost everyone had to leave the meeting to get some air and the VP never caught onto the 6 different but repeating "report" noises.


Founder Nov. 5, 2010 @ 5:49 p.m.

  • The Big Chalice -*

Attention Mister Matthew-Alice Don't stop trying for The Big Chalice

Life is way too short To change your report

Or to let the very few In any way upset you

*From: http://www.sandiegoreader.com/weblogs/np-star/2010/aug/26/rhyme-a-day/#c76566


Founder Nov. 5, 2010 @ 6:37 p.m.

Reply #46

Welcome back to "Good" health!

E.R. Time is Hard Time!


Matthew_Alice Nov. 10, 2010 @ 2:17 p.m.

Whoa, Mindy! Pretty dangerous situation, I'd say. Glad you're back in tip-top shape. Nothing worse than that abandoned feeling when you're sick and nervous. I'm sure "Bedside Manner" is a class no longer offered in med schools. Is this what they mean when they encourage patients to get involved in their own care -- fill in the big gaps created when doctors/nurses aren't around or don't respond to patient requests?


Matthew_Alice Nov. 10, 2010 @ 2:21 p.m.

@Founder -- Thanks for all your creativity. I love your talent and (something that rhymes with creativity)


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