Why Horses Roll: Complete Behavior Guide

Last Updated on March 2, 2022 by Allison Price


Horses can display a variety of behaviors, which can be concerning for both novice and experienced equestrians. It is crucial to be aware of what behavior is normal and healthy and which are worrying. Rolling can be a normal behavior or a sign of concern, depending on the situation.

Why do horses roll? Horses can roll for many reasons. Horses roll for normal, healthy reasons. Communication, stress relief, itch relief, and happiness are all reasons horses roll. Rolling can also be a problem in horses, such as when it is a sign of discomfort or colic.


Horses can roll for many reasons so it is important that you are able to recognize these triggers. You can gain a better understanding of why your horse is rolling, and how they behave normally. We will be looking at some of the reasons horses roll in this post. This post will answer many of the most frequently asked questions about horses rolling.

We hope you find this information useful in your interactions with, training, and caring for your horse.

Principal Reasons Horses Roll

Rolling is a healthy, normal behavior that horses exhibit regularly. Horses often roll out of joy. Horses may also roll out of happiness, stress, tension, and discomfort. Here are some of the most common reasons horses roll:

Horses roll to communicate with other horses

Horses communicate in unique ways if you’ve spent time with them. Horses communicate with their horses by leaving their scent on the surrounding horses. Horses can learn a lot from the scents of other horses, including their gender and age.

You may notice a horse rolling more frequently when they find themselves in a new environment or with new horses. It is most likely their way to introduce themselves to their new friends.

Horses are used to determine social status

Horses, like all other animals and humans, must decide their social status in order to be accepted into a new group. dominant horses will choose a preferred rolling spot to communicate their dominance and ensure that they remain at the top of their rank.

This is because their scent is stronger in that location. They establish their dominance over the horses around them and those who will follow in their footsteps. This is why horses roll to mark their territory.

Horses roll to relieve irritability from tack

After a hard workout, we all know how it feels to take off sweaty clothes and feel relieved. Horses often roll after a ride or exercise to get the same result. Even the best-fitted tack can cause irritation and excessive sweating, especially in summer. This is most likely why your horse is not rolling after rides or workouts.

It is crucial to be able to measure your horse’s saddle in order to make sure it fits properly. Learn how to measure your saddle to ensure comfort for your horse.

Horses roll to relieve tension and stress after exercise

Horses may also roll after a hard workout or ride. This is because they are trying to relax or relieve tension. Stress or tension could be the reason your horse is rolling after a ride. Make sure you take the time to calm them down.

You should continue walking your horse after a ride or exercise. This allows any lactic acid or tension that may have built up during exercise to be released, thereby relieving any muscle soreness.

Horses roll to scratch an itch

If your horse has an itchy skin, it is natural for them to try to scratch it. A horse’s primary method of scratching an itch is to roll. Itchy skin may be caused by insect bites or grooming products . Try to soothe any discomfort your horse may be experiencing.

After you have invested time and energy into their grooming, one of the worst times for horses to roll is when they aren’t happy. It is important to understand that horses are not trying to get your attention. They are often trying to avoid skin irritations or annoying insects.

Horses roll because they see other horses rolling

Horses Help to Shed Winter Coats

Horses grow a thick winter coat in the colder months. These winter coats must be shed when spring arrives. This process is necessary but can make the horse uncomfortable, sweaty and itchy. Horses can roll to ease their discomfort and loosen their winter coats. Rolling will accelerate the shedding process and help eliminate excess sweat from the body as the temperature rises.

You may want to help your horse shed their winter coat if they seem extremely uncomfortable. You can speed up the process by applying oil treatments, trimming your horse’s body, and following a strict daily grooming schedule.

Concerning the Reasons Horses Roll

There are many reasons horses roll. You should take the time to learn about your horse’s rolling habits so you can identify any problems quickly.

Horses that roll as normal will usually paw the ground once, then roll again. Horses who roll for an abnormal reason will not feel relief and may appear in distress.

Horses may try to roll during riding due to discomfort

A horse that is uncomfortable or is rolling is a sign of concern. There are many reasons for this. Some horses might even try to roll while being carried by a rider. This can be frustrating and dangerous. However, it is important that you take the time to ensure that there is no visible discomfort or pain.

If there are no warning signs regarding the fitting or placement of tack, it is worth consulting an equine veterinarian to check for any signs of discomfort. Your horse may need to roll for relief from pain, soreness, illness, imbalances, or illness.

Horses may roll as a sign of colic

Colic can be described as a broad term that encompasses many types of stomach pain and gastrointestinal conditions in horses. Colic can manifest in many ways, including rolling. Colic can cause horses to stop rolling and will often result in them falling down. Their rolling can be very violent, and they may not feel any relief.

Healthy horses will usually shake off the dust after they roll, but horses with colic will skip this step. They will look disheveled and covered in dirt, manure, or shavings because of this. You should carefully examine your horse’s behavior if you suspect they are suffering from colic.

Your equine veterinarian can provide additional information if your horse is experiencing discomfort that does not seem to be alleviating. Colic, if left untreated can cause severe health problems or even death. Your responsibility is to ensure that your horse receives the attention and care they need.

Is it normal for a dog to pawe the ground before rolling?

Equestrians know that pawing the ground before rolling can be a normal behavior, or a sign to distress. Is pawing the ground prior to rolling a normal behavior? Horses will paw at ground before rolling to check for softness. The horse can also pawe the ground before rolling to loosen the dirt around the area they are planning to roll.

Equestrians who have experience should be able recognize when horses are pawing at the ground to indicate anger, distress, or discomfort. You must quickly react to any discomfort caused by your horse’s pawing behavior.

Are Horses more likely to roll during certain seasons?

Horses can roll all year round, but it is possible that they are more active during certain seasons. Horses tend to roll more often in the summer than they do in the winter. Although horses are likely to roll all year, there are some seasonal reasons why they do so.

Why do horses roll during the summer?

Horses roll more in the summer months for many reasons. Flies and other annoying insects are more active in the summer months than they are in most places around the globe. This can cause severe itching and discomfort.

Horses may also roll in mud to protect their skin from the sun. Horses sweat more in the summer months, just like humans. Horses can sweat excessively even during light exercise. This can cause discomfort and irritation. After a sweaty workout, horses may roll to dry their sweat or relieve itching.

Why do horses roll during winter?

Horses can roll for many reasons during summer, but there are also reasons horses may roll in winter. Horses may begin to roll once their thick winter coat is in. Ground is often colder than air, and can be used to provide relief during the warmer days of winter.

Winter can also cause dry skin and more irritations, which can make your horse itchy. Rolling in winter can help relieve itching or just to express your happiness.

Common Horse Body Language

Horses heavily rely on body language to communicate with each other, with humans and with other animals. Horses may use rolling as one type of body language. You will learn more about the different body languages horses use as you gain experience. This knowledge will allow you to provide better care for horses and also enable you to interact with them more effectively.

These instruments are some of the many ways horses communicate their thoughts, feelings and emotions.

  • Ears
  • Head
  • Eyes
  • Muzzle
  • Forelegs
  • Hind Legs
  • Tail

The following are some of the most popular horse behavior other than rolling:

  • Near
  • Buck
  • Take a bite
  • Nip
  • Lick
  • Curling Lips
  • Raising Head
  • Lowering the Head
  • Snort
  • Roll
  • Kick
  • Pawing
  • Push

Every horse responds to different triggers in a unique way. It can be difficult to understand why a horse behaves a certain way when you’re working with them. You can communicate with horses almost seamlessly if you take the time to understand their individual behaviors and reactions.

You want to learn more about horses communicating? You can find my Horse Communication Guide in my article Horse Body Language Guide .

In conclusion

Rolling can be a sign that there is something more serious. Horses may roll when they feel pain or discomfort. This is usually only a rare occurrence. Some horses may also roll when in pain from colic. You can quickly identify if your horse is rolling if you pay attention to his behavior.

Sometimes horses may roll in a distracting manner while you’re riding, exercising, or training. After determining that the horse is not rolling out of pain or discomfort, it is important to redirect distracting behavior.

It is your responsibility as an owner and equestrian to understand the body language your horse uses to communicate with other horses and you. This will take time and effort but it is the best way for your horse to receive the care, training and attention they need. You will be a better rider and a better equestrian.

Similar Questions

What happens if your horse attempts to roll on the ground? Pay attention to warning signs that your horse may try to roll while you are riding. Even if the horse isn’t in pain, they might try to roll when you’re riding to escape work. To avoid injury to your horse, you, and other riders, it is crucial that you are able to control your horse at all time.

What are the signs that a horse feels happy or content? The most obvious sign is rolling. A looser lower jaw, relaxed breathing, and a soft, soothing snorting sound are all signs your horse is content. You can read my article How to Tell if your horse’s happy.

Is rolling dangerous for horses? Equestrians worry that excessive rolling can cause injury to their horses, particularly during colic episodes. Experts believe rolling can cause unnatural twists in your gut, which can lead to colic. This is not a common occurrence. To prevent further injury or illness, however, you should address colic if your horse starts rolling.

You want to learn more about horse behavior? These articles will help you learn more about horse behavior.

Allison Price
Allison Price

I’m Allison, born and raised in San Diego California, the earliest memory I have with horses was at my grandfather’s farm. I used to sit at the stable as a kid and hang out with my Papa while he was training the horses. When I was invited to watch a horse riding competition, I got so fascinated with riding!