Spring is finally getting here!
Days are getting longer, the ground is getting softer (and muddier!) Coats are shedding and soon it will be time to store away winter blankets (for those of you who wear them!) As a horse it’s kind of tricky to scratch my own back, but if I get to take a good roll on the ground, it certainly does the trick!
For some reason, my human friends make faces when I get all dirty. I just figure it gives them a chance to improve their grooming skills…but I digress. There may be more to rolling than just a simple back scratch or setting out to undo my human’s efforts to make my coat shiny and clean.
While many of the reasons why a horse rolls are not fully understood, behavior scientists have a pretty good idea of why we do it. Sometimes, if our coats get wet, rolling will help to fluff and dry them. Dry, fluffy coats are ideal for keeping warm in the winter. In the summer, some people think that we horses coat ourselves with a layer of dirt to help prevent pesky bugs from biting, or even as a sunscreen. (Don’t they know it’s also just plain fun?) In the springtime, rolling can even help with shedding. I have been known to leave behind evidence of my rolling activities with tufts of chestnut-colored hair on the ground…
Sometimes, horses like to roll simply because a buddy is rolling. Why should everyone else have all the fun? Also, since many times horses favor the same rolling spot, it becomes a nice, soft place to relax and scratch those hard to reach spots.
There are those times when rolling isn’t always fun and games. On occasion, horses roll because of pain in the abdomen, commonly known as colic. There are many causes of colic, and the pain can range from mild to severe. Horses will often roll in response to this pain. Rolling due to colic can be very dangerous, so it’s important to know the difference between when a horse is rolling for pleasure and when a horse is rolling due to colic.
Finally, don’t be discouraged when your horse rolls after you’ve just spent lots of time grooming and cleaning. It’s not an affront to your efforts, we don’t do it just to spite you – it’s just what we do. It makes us happy!
Until Next Time!