Laying A Horse Down

Laying Your Horse Down
Many of you have seen pictures of “Baby Sayo” laying down I am sure and might have wondered why I taught him to lay down….what is the use of it? Well on him it was pure and simple bordem. He was the only weanling I had that year so what all can you do with a weanling….teach him how to lay down. Is there a benefit to it? In his case I have yet to decide. It certainly was a good aid in teaching him to trust me and except anything I ask of him. I have handled Baby Sayo so much that he has a 100% trust in me as it is but not all horses are going to be this way and some will really benefit from the tool I used on this nice mare below in the pictures.

Laying A Horse Down
Laying a horse down has been a very controversial topic over the years, just like many other training practices. There are those people that believe that this training practices is wrong and bad for the horse, or even go as far as saying it is cruel to the horse. There are also those that will tell you that laying a horse down is something that should be done to every horse. I am not here to tell you that either opinion is right or wrong, but I wanna share my thoughts and experiences with you on this. First of all you have to remember that a training technique is only a tool that can be used correctly or incorrectly. Case and point…a hammer can be used to build a wonderful home or it can also be used to tear a wonderful home down, all depending on how it is used.

In this situation I am working with a aged mare that has not been started till recently and has unfortunately had some bad experiences that have caused her to be a bit on the untrusting side as well as a bit nervous and spooky on the ground. A good friend of mine has been working with her and has gotten her over a lot of her issues and made huge improvement with her but we just needed to find a way to get more in her head.

Laying A Horse Down
A horse has to learn how to give in to pressure rather then fight against it. Giving in to pressure does not come natural to a horse. Some horses like this mare would rather flee the situation then relax and think about it. The idea of laying a horse down is to take their ability to flee away and teach them how to except pressure while being in a very vulnerable position. When laying a horse down you need to pay extreme attention to making sure this a good, painless experience for your horse otherwise you are not achieving what you are striving for and the tool of laying the horse down was used incorrectly. While the horse is laying on its side and in a vulnerable position a horse is usually very anxious to flee so this is a great opportunity to teach your horse how to handle its anxiety on its own, and build a more confident horse. Here are some things I do in this situation.

  • Rubbing the horses muzzle
  • Gently rub inside your horses nose
  • Gently rub inside your horses mouth
  • Don’t forget to gently rub inside your horses ears
  • Rub their belly, and flanks
  • Lay on them
  • handle their legs and hoofs
  • Swing your rope or lead rope around them
  • and I have been known to run circles around them as well
  • if you happen to have kids around let them run and play in the arena….that always works well

Laying A Horse Down
After a horse has noticeably relaxed and excepting of this type of pressure, this is when you walk away and make certain to let your horse stand up of its own accord making sure you do nothing to cause your horse to get up as you have just spent all this time instilling in your horse that no matter what you do he is supposed to relax and not get up. Watching from across the pen you will generally notice a more relaxed and willing horse after your horse gets to its feet. This is a good time to walk over to your horse gently catching him and rubbing/petting on him, as well as getting on your horse and calmly walking him around under saddle depending on his training level.
From my experiences this is a wonderful tool when used correctly but I find it highly important that you know what you are doing when approaching this. Laying a horse down is defiantly not something that every horse needs but it is very beneficial to some when done correctly. I am not trying to say that this is magical cure your horses every problem but laying a horse down IS and CAN BE a very effective step to gain your horses trust while teaching him to relax.