- Published on Tuesday, 18 February 2014 10:33
Rolling in Clover cont
When we bath our horses we effectively force them to get wet in places where horses don’t naturally get wet, no matter how hard it rains. They don’t like this unfamiliar itchy feeling in these folds of skin and nooks and crannies so they roll to get rid of the uncomfortable feeling. We often presume it is to get rid of the wonderful human chosen smell of the shampoo. Which I must say I sometimes suspect it a bit of that too, especially with the weird “flavours” and scents the manufactures are coming up with now days. If it was the horse’s choice don’t you think the “ Sunburst strawberry types” would be replaced with “fresh cut alfalfa” or “carrot” flavour anyway.
If your horse is happy to roll right next to you or on the lead, take it as a huge compliment to yourself. Horses will not lie down close to you or roll near you if they do not trust you. It is a great indicator of your horse’s trust and confidence level in you as to how comfortable he is rolling with you.
Horses mainly roll in sand and mud as it protects them from the sun and insects. They also love the opportunityto roll in ash after a fire as it has a better debugging effect for them. On hot days rolling in cool mud or shallow water is also a way for them to regulate body heat and cool down. In shallow water it is often the feeling of soft sand under their hooves and not the water itself that encourages them to roll. Try always to teach your horse it may roll and play to its hearts content when untacked, however when tacked up this not allowed or even negotiable. It can be extremely dangerous to the rider let alone destroy the saddle by breaking its tree if a horse decides to roll while being ridden.
There is also another reason horses roll and that is to shed loose hair and groom themselves as nature intended. Usually this rolling is done on grassy patches or even on herb type weeds that have a variety of smells and textures. When horses run long distances in the wild, play or work hard enough to build up a sweat, rolling is the means they use to start drying themselves off.
Unlike drinking, feeding or mating when the herd hierarchy dominates the order, hierarchy doesn’t effect when and which horses’ roll. Often times most of the herd will roll at the same time and individuals may roll a couple times in different spots.
When they roll horses are also always leaving their scent behind and often roll on spots where they can smell another horse has already rolled. They deem it a safer area to roll if one of their species has rolled and lived to tell the tale!
If your horse is rolling or lying down always remember not to do anything to startle or spook him when he is down, he may over react and injure himself or you. Horses are extremely vulnerable when rolling and their reflex to flee is heightened when they are down on the ground.
If you have the opportunity it is a good idea to allow your horses a rolling sand pit somewhere in the camp or even an area where they can be taken on halter if not allowed access to a camp. Different sands can be added; I have found a load of fine builders plaster sand is always popular. Diatomaceous Earth rolling compound can also be added which really assists in external parasite control. I enjoy adding cut herbs like lavender, rosemary, comfrey and mint to my horses rolling areas. Some individual horses have individual preferences for them, but most spend a good bit of time investigating the sand wallow when the herbs are thrown in. Another idea to encourage natural behaviour is to fill the rolling area/pit with water and make some mud for them on hot days.
I have been referring here to horses that are rolling for relaxation and grooming please be aware there is a big difference when your horse is rolling in pain. That is entirely a different topic and in such cases veterinary advice should urgently be sought.