Why horses roll!


Horses roll to mildly entertain us while they are being cute and to mildly annoy us when we are grooming. And also a few other reasons – many of which are legit, and one weird hypothesis of mine that makes a little bit of sense.


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Horses roll because:


  • It feels good. Itches can be scratched.


  • Your horse may roll to do some natural chiropractics or relieve tension/soreness in his body.


  • Rolling can help keep bugs at bay. A nice layer of dirt or mud puts a layer between your horse and super irritating bugs.


gray horse after rolling in mud and rain

No bug on the planet could get through this mess.


  • It has been suggested that dirt and mud also create a dull coat to lessen the strength of the sun.


  • Rolling can also facilitate drying, by helping the hairs fluff back up.


  • For many species, the members of that species roll to mark their territory. However, horses don’t have territories so this hypothesis doesn’t make much sense.


  • It’s also believed that rolling in mud, when available, has cooling effects that horses like. Some horses have been known to spill their water troughs and roll in the fresh mud.

dirty horse after mud rolling while wearing white fly sheet


  • Also, know that some colic situations are signaled by rolling. Sometimes it is frantic and violent rolling, other times it’s up and down rolling, sometimes it’s somewhere in between. Any weird rolling should be closely monitored and be relayed to your veterinarian just in case.


  • And now for the weirdness – do horses roll to camouflage their smell from predators? Could they be trying to smell more earthy so the lions, tigers, and bears can’t find them? Just a thought!


bay horse rolling in field




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