Originally Posted by rookie
Hberrie, I think it can be stressful for a horse if you are using force and they resist. You can see some folks using ropes and a pully style system to force a horse down. Its supposed to be used for horses that are really dangerous. Sort of way to blow their mind. The theory that they do this really terrifying thing that they fight. They realize that people are keeping them down (from getting back up) then they realize that humans are in control and they have to trust them. I think that's the idea but if I am wrong someone correct me.
The trouble is that if you don't know what you are doing you can end up getting seriously injured and seriously injure the horse. If a horse is controlling its down then its different. Look at how careful your horse goes down to roll. Its a process of the horse selecting an area and preparing them-self. If you doubt me watch an older horse or a horse with arthritis prepare itself to lie down. When you start forcing a horse down they can do things quickly and improperly. As a trick its a little different.
I know a lot of people say its a sign of trust I don't know if I buy that. I always have had horses that did not get up when I marched out to them in pasture. I can rub them and fuss over them and they don't give up. I never thought it was a sign of trust but a sign of them having a sun bath or being lazy. I think a bigger sign of trust is my horse doing something it finds scary because I am next to it or turning to me when worried. So, if you need to need to have your horse lie down to prove that you have a great bond with them it seems like weak horsemanship to me. Its an ego boost for some I guess. I don't know I always figured that since I like my horse and he likes me that's all we really need.
If people think the reason for laying a horse is to gain trust or make him submit
I suggest reading this thread, Laying a horse down, WH article
Quick scientific explanation of what happens in the horses brain when done correctly, some food for thought.