Horse Specifically Choosing To Roll In Poop (New Behavior) - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 13 Old 04-04-2016, 10:51 PM Thread Starter
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Horse Specifically Choosing To Roll In Poop (New Behavior)

So let me preface this by saying, thankfully this isn't my horse I'm about to discuss, but my friend's black Tennessee Walker gelding who is also boarded at the farm I keep my horse at. She's an experienced horsewoman but has never encountered this issue before with this horse or any other horse she's owned or worked with. I searched the forum and couldn't really find this issue specifically and google was limited mostly to dogs.

She has owned him for 12 years and he'll be 21 this June. He's got a very calm, laid back personality and he's usually a loner most of the the time, keeping on the outskirts of the herd, he's always been that way even though he buddied up with my horse.

Anyway, her horse has been on this farm since November 27th. He was kept in the same pasture my horse has been in which was only geldings, and the BO's recently moved him to the next pasture that has 5 other horses, 2 of which are mares to even the numbers of horses per pasture when a new boarder came. When 2 horses went out of town, they moved him back in with the geldings up until Saturday when they moved him back to the pasture with the 3 geldings and 2 mares. Yesterday after a long trail ride, when she put him back to pasture, he sniffed around until he found a spot that had fresh piles of poop and went down and rolled himself entirely in it, intentionally in the poop. Ick. He had a bath today, and I'm sure tomorrow when I go to check on him since she can't make it out to the farm, he'll be stinky all over again.

Any idea of what could be causing this, how to prevent it, or why he may all of a sudden be doing it? Is it a sign of submission or something? It's a gross, new development we'd like to nip in the bud if possible.
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post #2 of 13 Old 04-04-2016, 11:21 PM
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I have one gelding who is nearly obsessive about wanting to smell every poop pile he comes across that is in a new environment. He is the lead horse, and I always supposed it was his way of finding out who was in the area. Horses like dogs have anal scent glands and some of a horse's particular scent probably comes off on the poop identifying who made the deposit.

Just a guess here, perhaps he is rolling in poop so that he has the smell of his new herd on him and it will make him more acceptable kind of a "Hey look guys I'm one of you".

If that is the reason, don't know what to suggest you do about it except hope once he gets comfortable with his new herd, it will stop.

http://www.thehorse.com/articles/100...sense-of-smell

“You spend your whole life with horses and just about the time you think you have them figured out, a horse comes along that tells you otherwise.” –quote from my very wizened trainer


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post #3 of 13 Old 04-04-2016, 11:32 PM
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Originally Posted by Reiningcatsanddogs View Post
I have one gelding who is nearly obsessive about wanting to smell every poop pile he comes across that is in a new environment. He is the lead horse, and I always supposed it was his way of finding out who was in the area. Horses like dogs have anal scent glands and some of a horse's particular scent probably comes off on the poop identifying who made the deposit.

Just a guess here, perhaps he is rolling in poop so that he has the smell of his new herd on him and it will make him more acceptable kind of a "Hey look guys I'm one of you".

If that is the reason, don't know what to suggest you do about it except hope once he gets comfortable with his new herd, it will stop.

Equine Sense of Smell | TheHorse.com
Interesting thought.

I have a gelding, low man on the totem pole, who would love to smell each pile of poo on the trail if I allowed it. I've always teased he must be part 'scent hound'.

From what I have observed in the pasture he doesn't do the sniffing. Now, he loves to lie in a fresh warm pile........
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post #4 of 13 Old 04-04-2016, 11:35 PM
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Werecat, mine all roll in poop. They lay in poop. I have to brush poop from their backs before putting a saddle on them. It's a horse thing, and I wouldn't worry about it; it'll dry out and fall off in a few hours. Then they'll do it again ;-)
I'm sure Reining is right; it's a scent ID tag of some description.
Steve

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post #5 of 13 Old 04-04-2016, 11:36 PM
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Sarah, thankfully mine doesn't lay down in the fresh stuff.....yet. He prefers the old hay, usually been peed on, not a whole lot better...sigh.

“You spend your whole life with horses and just about the time you think you have them figured out, a horse comes along that tells you otherwise.” –quote from my very wizened trainer


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post #6 of 13 Old 04-04-2016, 11:38 PM
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You are so, so lucky!

I hope he never learns of the spa benefits of the heat from the organic matter!
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post #7 of 13 Old 04-04-2016, 11:52 PM Thread Starter
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Haha, thankfully mine no matter how dirty/muddy he comes out of the pasture he -never- smells of poop. The only time I'll smell poop is the times when I'm picking his feet and it's packed in there.

Doc (my friend's horse this post is about) on the other hand... lately has become a stinky boy, and this is a new development for him. I'm going to have to say, I think you're right Rein, he probably is trying to have the smell of his new herd, because he wasn't doing it in the gelding pasture. I may also point out this is one of the very few if not first times he's been with mares, and I'm almost wondering if he's seeking out the mares' poop to roll in. He was gelded kind of late in life, at 8 years old and he is proud cut. He hasn't tried to mount these mares, but I'm wondering if that could become a potential problem?
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post #8 of 13 Old 04-05-2016, 12:30 AM
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Sorry; I tried to resist:

Scooter and The Stinkers :-D
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Steve Jernigan KG0MB
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post #9 of 13 Old 04-05-2016, 09:47 AM
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Originally Posted by Werecat View Post
I may also point out this is one of the very few if not first times he's been with mares, and I'm almost wondering if he's seeking out the mares' poop to roll in. He was gelded kind of late in life, at 8 years old and he is proud cut. He hasn't tried to mount these mares, but I'm wondering if that could become a potential problem?

It could. My sniffer was a working stud until he was 7, he's nine now. We don't think he is proud cut, vet says no, though at times we wonder (quick muscle building, very confident in himself, and the following.....) Yes, if a mare is in heat and receptive, he will mount her (not when we are under saddle thank goodness) that was his only job for most of his life and old habits die hard.

If your friend's Doc starts looking like he is getting a little too interested, perhaps I would think about moving him back in with the geldings. Ollie is shooting blanks, but if I'm not mistaken, I think a proud cut horse can still impregnate....

“You spend your whole life with horses and just about the time you think you have them figured out, a horse comes along that tells you otherwise.” –quote from my very wizened trainer



Last edited by Reiningcatsanddogs; 04-05-2016 at 09:54 AM.
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post #10 of 13 Old 04-05-2016, 10:08 AM
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Hmmmm. I don't know much about equine mating rituals, but the last time Mandolin_the_16h_Mare seriously came into season, of the four geldings she shares a pasture with, guess who tried to mount her. 14h George_the_macho_mule :-)
"Sorry, Georgie; ain't gonna work, and you'd need a stepstool anyway . . ." Too funny!
Steve

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