Understanding Why Your Horse Rolls

Some horses, like Tofino, roll on a daily basis. As strange as it may seem for non-horsey people, this is something very normal. It is actually a sign of good health if they are able to roll 180 degrees. It can be dangerous at times, depending on the surface, or during a colic episode, or, while still having tack on.

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You can tell the difference when a horse is rolling for “fun” or when they are doing so for “pain” or “discomfort”.

When a horse is rolling normally, they will circle around and check the ground a few times. They are able to stretch their body and spine. It helps to maintain their flexibility and health, as well as keep them cool.

Generally, horses tend to roll for these reasons:

  1. Pleasure
  2. Comfort
  3. Grooming
  4. Pain relief
  5. Rest
  6. Cooling
  7. Discomfort


If a horse drops down suddenly and rolls vigorously, this is a sign of discomfort. If your horse has musculoskeletal pain, it is a lot harder for them to lay down.

Naturally, when horses feels safe and secure, they will allow themselves to roll and lay down. As they are prey animals, lying down is a more susceptible position for them so give them time and space to do it at their own pace and pleasure.

Things to remember:

  • Never allow a horse to roll on a hard surface (concert, asphalt, wood)
  • Never allow your horse to roll straight after exercise (wait until after they cool down)
  • Never allow your horse to roll with tack on
  • Never rush a horse while rolling
  • Keep your distance
  • Allow them access to a paddock daily so they have the freedom to stretch and roll


Does your horse like to roll?

2 thoughts on “Understanding Why Your Horse Rolls

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