There are many different reasons that can cause a horse to roll. If your horse has been rolling, and you'd like some advance notice, watch for these common signs:
- a) Stopping - Of course the horse has to stop before he rolls.
- b) Pawing - Sometimes the horse will paw at the ground or water.
- c) Sniffing - Have you ever watched a horse in the pasture? He will smell the ground before he rolls.
- d) Tucking feet - Most of the time, when a horse has it in mind to roll, he will tuck his legs under him first.
There are several reasons that cause a horse to roll and in understanding the cause first, you will be more capable of stopping your horse from rolling over. Three of the most common causes are:
- Colic - This is an abdominal pain. There are many different types and unfortunately colic can lead to worse problems if the horse rolls and nothing is done.
- Worming - Try worming this horse as he could have stomach worms or skin mites that cause the itch and the need to roll.
- Training - If this is a training issue, much like eating grass on the trail, you should try and correct him. Sometimes the horse doesn't think about the rider or what you are asking him to do.
It really depends on the situation you are in as to what the cause may be. The majority of the time, a horse will roll to get dust close to its skin. This has several advantages for the horse, from keeping flies and other pests away to keeping him cool on the hotter days. I have also known horses that would roll if they weren't groomed well before riding. Now that we have looked at what can cause this action in a horse, let's look at how to stop a horse from rolling over. Most is mind over matter, as they say. But other times, the rolling is a symptom that you should not disregard.
- If your horse has colic, most likely he will want to lay down and roll. Colic can sometimes be fatal if the horse rolls too harshly. Once you notice the signs of colic, get your horse out and walk him. If he continues to want to lay down and roll, even with being walked, call the vet or get someone else to so that you don't have to leave your horse unattended. Think of when you have a stomachache and all you want to do is curl up in a ball - instead of curling up into a ball, a horse with colic rolls.
- If you suspect your horse to have worms or mites, the best thing to do is worm, especially if it has been a while and he is due for a worming. It may take a few days to rid your horse of that itch - like most medicine, it takes time.
- Now the cause for rolling that can most easily be addressed by the home reader is the training. Most horses are set in a pattern when they are trained and ridden. Think of this as an issue similar to allowing your horse to eat on the trail - if you allow the horse to eat on the trail, then the horse understandably thinks that eating on the trail is appropriate. If the horse has been allowed to roll with no correction made, then the horse thinks that rolling over is okay.
But knowing the difference between good and bad reinforcement will make all the difference as to how your horse will react to your correction. Once you realize that your horse has decided to roll, he is either not thinking of you being on him or not caring. Give him something else to do. From nudging him to step up, making him turn in circles or anything else that both reminds him that you are on him and gets his mind off laying down.
If the rolling is a training issue, it will take patience and time to correct. It will be a change in routine for your horse, and he most likely will resist it. Don't get hateful with him as this will make him more nervous the next time and won't really help the issue.
Keep the signs that your horse is about to roll in mind so that when you see them, you can get off your horse in time. And good luck in ascertaining the cause and coming to a quick resolution!