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Why Does My Horse Roll? Here’s the Answer!

Dean Eby

It’s a common sight, and you’ve likely seen your horse doing it and wondered what was going on. Rolling is something that horses do for a variety of different reasons. While it may seem a bit strange to us, it’s a completely natural thing for a horse to do, and it can even provide many benefits for them. If you see your horse rolling, there’s no need to stop them. In fact, you ought to encourage it, making certain that your horse has plenty of space where they can roll safely.divider-horse

Why do Horses Roll?

The big question is: why do horses display this behavior in the first place? In reality, there are four main reasons why your horse rolls on the ground.

One of the major purposes of rolling is to simply provide some pleasure. Your horse enjoys rolling, and it’s not only fun for them, but it also feels good, allowing them to stretch out their muscles and maintain flexibility.

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Another reason horses roll is to relieve pain. It’s good for their spine and alignment, and it can help them to feel more comfortable.

Additionally, horses roll as an act of grooming. It helps to prevent irritation from sweat drying by drying it off right away in the dirt. Furthermore, the dirt acts as a protective layer against insects that want to prey on your horse’s skin.

Finally, horses will also roll for rest since it’s very relaxing and rejuvenating for them.

Signs Your Horse is About to Roll

Now you know why your horse rolls, but how can you tell when your horse is about to? Generally speaking, they’ll offer a few signs that indicate they’re about to start rolling.

If you see your horse pacing in circles, pawing at the dirt with its hooves and blowing into the dirt with its nose, then it might be assessing a spot for rolling. Should you see it start to bend a knee or lean to one side, they’re likely initiating the roll.

As long as your horse is in a safe area where rolling won’t hurt them, allow them to roll. However, you should be aware of these signs so that you can take action if your horse attempts to roll at an inappropriate place or time.

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Benefits of Rolling for Your Horse

We’ve already mentioned the reasons why your horse rolls, but what benefits can these provide?

Rolling is actually an indicator of your horse’s health. A good strong roll can indicate a healthy horse, but a weak roll can mean the opposite.

Rolling can help to keep your horse’s spine in alignment, naturally correcting vertebral subluxations. It also helps to maintain flexibility in their muscles and joints. It’s also hygienic, offering a faster way to get dry and even creating a layer of protection against insects. And finally, it’s an action that just helps your horse to feel better and can help them remain relaxed and happy.divider-horse

What if Your Horse Doesn’t Roll?

All horses ought to roll. You can even tell a lot about a horse’s health by its roll. But if your horse refuses to roll, then there might be a deeper problem underlying the issue. It’s possible your horse has soreness, pain, or other problems. In such cases, it’s best to consult a veterinarian for further diagnosis.

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Signs of a Healthy Roll

When your horse rolls, it should roll on both sides. Depending on your horse’s build, they might roll on one side and rollover their back to the other side and continue rolling before standing up, or they might roll on one side, stand up, and then roll the other side. Both are acceptable; it just depends on your horse’s conformation.

Healthy horses will roll vigorously. They’ll also usually go for a short run and buck a few times when they stand up.

Signs of Unhealthy Rolling

The first bad sign is that your horse doesn’t roll at all. A weak roll is also an indication of a potential problem. If your horse only rolls briefly on one side, it may mean they have a back issue that needs addressing. Weak rolls and rolling on one side are signs that you should have a vet take a look at your horse.

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Conclusion

You’ll want to keep an eye on your horse’s rolling behaviors. They can be a first glimpse into the health of your animal. A strong, vigorous roll can indicate a healthy and hardy horse, but a weak roll or rolling on just one side means that you might have an underlying problem that needs to be addressed.


Featured image credit: jpduretz, Pixabay

Dean Eby

An avid outdoorsman, Dean spends much of his time adventuring through the diverse terrain of the southwest United States with his closest companion, his dog, Gohan.  He gains experience on a full-time journey of exploration. For Dean, few passions lie closer to his heart than learning.  An apt researcher and reader, he loves to investigate interesting topics such as history, economics, relationships, pets, politics, and more.