At the first instance, everyone wonders what is the purpose of Horse stance. It is practically impossible to fight in this stance, other than used as a transitional stance. You are bound to be more surprised when you see Shaolin Monks(on T.V or Internet or lucky enough to see them live) staying in this stance for hours. Usually, Horse stance is the one taught to a beginner within a week or two(depending on the Sensei). I have seen them struggle to even stay in position for more than 5 minutes as it is very awkward.
The perfect Horse stance is double the length of your shoulder with knees bent and toes pointing forward. Does sound difficult, doesn’t it? I often see my Sensei shouting [ even I do when I assist my Sensei ] at the students to bend their knees and point toes forward, because these two are the tough part about horse stance. Keeping the feet apart at double the shoulder length is obviously easy.
So why is it taught? And why is it necessary? It is to strengthen your legs. As simple as that. All you have to do is to think why you are doing a thing and has it benefited you, and the answer presents itself. Staying in position for five minutes is difficult for a beginner. So, think staying in that stance for half an hour. Firstly, it strengthens your thighs due to bent knees. Then, your ankles are strengthened because you have to point the toes forward. Now you know why the Shaolin Monks stand in this stance for hours.
P.S: Don’t stand in the stance for more than 5 to 10 minutes in the first instance of your practice. Increase the timings gradually so that you don’t over-exercise your legs. And, don’t forget to keep your back straight!