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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
My ten y/o TW mare lies down while I'm riding her. Why does she do that? She's not ridden very often so is so out of shape that she gets tired enough to have to lie down? I don't have any trouble getting her back up though. I kinda thought that she got sweaty and wanted to roll, but she wasn't all that sweaty and she didn't try to roll when she layed down - she just layed there upright and ate some grass sometimes. When we got out of the field and onto the road it seemed like she kept trying to get over to the grassy ditch to lay in it. Why does she do this and what can I do to make her stop?

Also she always has her head turned to the left while I'm riding her. I think that maybe she does this because she's nosey and wants to look at everything. When she keeps her head turned her rear naturally goes the opposite direction, which causes her to walk kinda sideways. This makes her difficult to ride especially on a wooded trail. Any suggestions for why she does this and how to fix it? Maybe tying strings from both sides of the bit to the saddle to hold her head straight? Or would she just completely turn her body instead? I've used something like the strings before on my other horses to help keep them from bucking or rearing and also to help with some nice head carriage. The strings just keep their head where it belongs - in the middle not too high and not too low so they have to behave themselves. The only time she really keeps her head straight is when she's trotting, because she can't trot with her head turned. Any thoughts?
 

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Has a vet checked her out lately? Does she eat where it's sandy, or where she could injest dirt and sand? My first thought is that you might want to rule out sand in her instine (which could lead to sand colic) and stones. I have seen horses get down and roll on trail etc, and end up having one of these issues.

Does your saddle, tack fit correctly? Is there anything on your pad that could be itching your horses? I would check out these things too.

After any medical or tack reason is ruled out, I would say your horse has you completely duped! Somewhere it has learned that this is a great way to get rid of it's rider! This is something that will take work and time. Any time she gets down and rolls, get right back on and work her, maybe trotting in tight circles or something to show her that when she does it, she is only making it harder on herself. Don't let her get away with it.

As for the head turning to the side, it's making me think that something is wrong with the tack, or you may be sitting to one side or are off somehow yourself. Or she could be stronger one one side. PLEASE DO NOT TIE STRINGS FROM THE BIT TO YOUR SADDLE, you are asking for a serious amount of hurt to you and your horse if things go bad!!!! Instead, make sure that you are holding your reins evenly. You can mark your hand holds on your rains or buy "rainbow reins" where there are different colored sections to make sure you are holding them evenly. If you have to, you can tighten the one rein on the side she is not turning to in order to hold her straight. Again, medical, tack, and riders reasons ruled out, she is duping you with this too.

It sounds like you could possibly have a very spoiled horse on your hands who knows how to get her own way.
 

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I'm basically just going to be repeating what Cinny said; she had some good advice.

Whenever she lays down, GET HER UP. Give her a big slap with the reins and a boot with your legs. Ideally, you should not let her go down in the first place. She will likely show signs of thinking about laying down before she does it.

If she does it often, I might get her checked out by a vet, but to me, anyways, it sounds like she's just doing it because she's lazy and she knows she'll get rid of her rider.

I agree with Cinny for the head turned thing. Is something wrong with her tack, are you sitting wrong, does she have some sort of medical issue or pain that causes her to walk twisted? I wouldn't advise tying her head straight, as it's just putting a mask over the problem and likely won't fix anything. And, as CW said, it puts you in a bad spot if things go south.

You said she trots alright, which makes me think she may just be looking around. It's odd, though, how her back end swings out when she turns her head-unless she's so oblivious and looking so hard that she doesn't really pay attention to what she's doing? At any rate, you should be trying harder to get her attention and keep her focused. My older mare will walk with her right end slightly out at the start of a ride because she has a bit of arthritis in that hock. I use my leg to get her hindquarters pushed up straight and push her forwards at a faster walk to get her moving straighter and reaching farther with more impulsion.
 

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I seriously doubt there's anything medically wrong with this horse because if she's sick enough to want to lie down, you'd know it. I have dealt with this problem with a client's child's pony. The horse figured if it laid down, work is over, right? Unless you know the signs & feelings of when she's going down, you won't be able to fix it. I was given this pony to fix because I am light & could fix the problem & you bet I did. The moment you feel that horse wanting to go down, raise your hands straight up, not back & get them moving with your legs, seat, whip, whatever you use to forward cue. And continue to work them for a good bit. The pony only tried this with me twice. He goes back to the little girl and does it again. So I hooked him up to the tractor & dragged him up when he would did this to her. He never did it again. In fact that little pony is still alive and still owned by that little girl who is a now young adult. She told me he was her perfect mount & would keep him forever. I like to think I had a part in that.
 
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Pony goes down, dad scoops kid up & away we go dragging the pony. One time was enough.
 

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Pony goes down, dad scoops kid up & away we go dragging the pony. One time was enough.

Still a super funny mental image, I would have never thought of it... And if I had, i might have killed someone implementing it...
*Trying to make this UN-insulting, FYI Sometimes I am not good at that. I really did just think it was funny. My whole family got a laugh over it
 

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Allison Finch just notified me of this thread. Lol I have a horse with an odd character, and thought I would share a little bit about what I know about Jake and why he lays down.

First of all, I taught Jake to lay down as a fun trick. Well after a few years he when he would get frustrated he would do anything and everything he could think of to avoid doing what I wanted him to do (Like walk...down a trail instead of run) and he would throw a temper tantrum, when rearing wouldn't work he would lay down. He doesn't roll, try to shake me off or anything. Sometimes he'll lay on his belly or quietly on his side, I'll ask him to get back ups (sometimes he gives me a half attempt and will lay back down) but will get up on cue, I get back on and ride on.

Is it caused by frustration? Does she not want to go out any farther? Does she want to go home faster and your holding her back? Is she hyper?

Jake has also laid down to nap in very soft deep sand before when I wasn't paying attention. He naos with me in turn out in the sun from time to time. If you watch 99% of horses will have their heads down, pawing, shuffling, trying to circle. Though Jake is the 1% that can lay down from a rear...

With Jake his main issue was frustration, he would shut down and give up when he reached a certain level. So once I learned to work him without making him frustrated he stopped. It wasn't an avoiding work thing, most of the time it was me holding him back. When he made indications he wanted to lay down I would get my spurs into his side or lay into him with the whip, get him moving. Once he was down, I wouldn't go after him much, do what it took to get him up, and remount! Sometimes I would make him get up with me still on as well.

Here is Jake in all his glory :
((Watch the second half starting at 0:28))

((This video is a year old, and my timing was off/handled it poorly. Jake sidesteps just fine now. I have gotten tons of hate mail/comments on this so no need to comment on that. I don't regret how I handled it, though I don't think I would handle it like this again.))
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
No, I don't think she's frustrated. We were just walking through the field - nothing new or complicated, just walking. She's not hyper either she's actually pretty mellow except for acting nervous sometimes. I got right back on after everytime she layed down.
 

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No, I don't think she's frustrated. We were just walking through the field - nothing new or complicated, just walking. She's not hyper either she's actually pretty mellow except for acting nervous sometimes. I got right back on after everytime she layed down.
She could have been bored, lol


LOVE the videos, horsesdontlie :p
 

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She might be saying that she's bored with being ridden; any horse needs to find some meaning to being ridden; you have to make it interesting/fun for her (which takes skill, which takes time to acquire.)

One thing that might help her is to put her in a round pen & get her forward movement really good; lying down could be her final step in "sucking back", due to her having never been taught to move out sufficiently in her ground training.
 

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I have never interpreted a horse lying down as a bored horse. They lie down to sleep, to relax, to scratch, feel good/better and as is hugely evident by horsesdontlie, to avoid! A bored horse will just plod along because he could care less what's happening.

If it's not pain, then it's discipline in some format and needs to be dealt with.

To the OP, your horse will give you notice that she's going to go down. You need to be on the ball and cue her forward at the slightest indication. Pay attention to her body and don't let her go down. If she gets down on you, get her up immediately. No matter what it takes. Pinto & Cinnys have my vote.
 

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She has your number. The next time she goes down, quickly hop off and pull her head so she's lying flat then sit on her neck behind her ears. She will struggle to get up but she can't. Keep her there until she relaxes and lets out a big sigh. It may take 10 or 15 min. When you let her up be in the saddle as she's getting up. I doubt she'll do it again. When you hold her down she knows she is vulnerable to attack. The big sigh means she's prepared to die but then this wonderful person gets them up. You've play her game but changed the rules.
 

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Horses,

Thanks for posting those videos. Every time I watch them I just howl with laughter! That is one of the reasons I just love Jake and have tried to help you with him. There is just something special about him that resonates with me. I would simply love working with him some day. It is often the "quirky" ones who become the best at what they want to do.
 

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OP - I don't have much to add to the laying down question. My husbands TWH gelding did that to us once when he was made to be in the middle of the group on trail instead of out front where he wanted to be. He figured if he couldn't lead he would lay down and not go at all :) We thought it was funny, but immediately got him up and forced him to be at the back the entire rest of the trip.

For the bending to the left - 2 things popped into my mind. 1.) if you assume it is being nosey, but it is always to the left is her eyesight on the right normal or could she have decreased vision to that side? Is her neck stiff to the right causing her to be sore is she is straight or looking right? Try suppling/stretching out her neck in both directions prior to riding. You can hold a treat and ask her to bend her neck until her nose touches your saddle in both directions without moving her body. Once she does it one side, give her the treat and then repeat. 2.) Is your left leg on her side more than the right? This could casue he to go bent around that pressure with her rear moving away from your cue. My husband had this issue when he got his Haflinger. He wondered why he was bent and when I was watching from the ground one day I looked and it was slight but you could tell his left leg was on his horse more than the right. ake sure you are even and balanced in the center of the saddle from your head to your toes.

Good luck!
 

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Teaching a horse to lie down that has a laying Down problem is not anything I would advise teaching. Jake never tried to lay down until I taught him to do it. He has used it against me quiet often when we were going through our bad times. I would advise holding the horse down and get on with the horse as saddlebag suggested. Yet since she is so calm about it she might not care. I would also have a lead rope attached at all times so when she goes down hop off smack the ground hard with the end of the lead rope make her get back up and work the crap out of her on the ground. Backing up, trot left switch fast trot right stop, back up...ect. Laying down=more work. Then when you get back in the saddle relax and calmly walk on down your merry way.

Alison, you know of you're ever in southern cal you're free to come and ride him. :)
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