Why do Horses Roll? 

How often do we see our horses having a roll, sometimes it can bring instant fear could it be colic and other times we stand back and see the joy they get from having a good scratch.  

So why do horses actually roll?  

Horses roll for a few reasons, which include:  

  1. They are grooming themselves, rolling helps horses shed their coat especially in springtime when that winter coat is starting to come out.  You may even see some hair on the ground afterwards-don’t worry it saves you doing it! 
  2. Helps to regulate their body temperature especially after exercise. 
  3. Just having a good old scratch. 
  4. To help dry sweat on their coat. 
  5. Mud and dust can be a good coat conditioner and insect repellent. 
  6. It can even help stretch their muscles. 
  7. If your horse has a few to many rugs on and they are getting a bit hot they will also roll for some relief and help cool down. 

Unfortunately, however, there can also be problematic reasons your horse will roll, and generally that will be due to pain. When horses experience pain from colic they will often roll in an attempt to gain some relief. This is not always a bad thing as rolling can help move gas or liquid in their gut which can ease the discomfort.  Many people think that rolling due to colic can make it worse, but that’s not always the case. Rolling doesn’t make colic worse; however, it can increase your horses’ risk of injury if they are in a stable or small yard. Horses can become cast in their stable or if it is an aggressive colic, they can cause small sores or rubs on certain parts especially the side of the head from the rolling.  

If you are confused or concerned as to why your horse maybe rolling, generally, horses who are rolling to have a scratch will get up and graze straight after.  

If your horse is repeatedly getting up and getting back down to roll then it may be colic and you should call your veterinarian immediately for advice.  

Written by Selena Phillis.  


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