Jamie Cearley, PhDPoncho, my gruella Appaloosa, likes lying down. Actually all of the horses here on the farm like lying down. It is fascinating how often visitors to our farm see one or more of them sprawled out and are stunned. Some even panic, just sure they are ailing or dead.

We occasionally go to a local indoor arena in the winter months to ride. Poncho is in love with the soft dirt inside and generally only makes it about 10 feet inside the door before he sinks to the ground and rolls around like a 1,200-pound Labrador. After we are finished riding and I remove his saddle, he often takes a second plunge down into the dirt and lies there, calmly watching the other horses from his resting spot.

Jamie and Poncho
Jamie and Poncho hanging out at the local arena.

One night at the arena, when Poncho did his ceremonial dirt dive, a naïve gentlemen proclaimed, “Does that thing have colic?”

“He’s fine,” I replied, as I happily knelt beside him.

What this gentlemen and many others don’t know is that horses must reach a high level of trust and confidence in their human partner in order to lie down in their presence. He thought something was dreadfully wrong, I knew something was fantastically right. I was being honored as a trustworthy leader by Poncho’s behavior. 

Ane From The Rock
8/21/2020 9:49:56 AM

When I was a teenager I had a bay standardbred named Boomerang, Boomer for short. We participated in three day events and trained a lot. It got to the point where every morning I’d come into the barn and go to Boomer’s stall where he would be lying down covered in his blanket. He’d be making those little contented signing grunty sounds we all make when we’™re really comfortable. I’d tug on his halter to get him up and he resisted like he was staging a sit-in. So I’™d just go ahead and clean out his hooves while he was lying down. Eventually I got him to his feet, took off the blanket and there were little Impressions from the straw bedding in his skin just like we get from lying on a pillow! It was so cute. I’d tack him up after I finished grooming him, we would proceed to go out of the barn for our morning training exercise. Boomer was not a morning person. He tried everything he could think of to get out of working almost every day. As I’d be leading him out of the barn, he’d start coughing and coughing and coughing. When that didn't€™ work and I kept leading him on out of the barn, he would start limping on all 4 feet. Eventually we’d get out of the barn and I’d mount up to go out to the field where we did our training sessions. Once we got to the field, every time we’d pass the water trough in our circuits, Boomer would crane his neck out and strain and strain to get a drink of water. Finally when I relented, he’d just stick his nose in the water and blow bubbles. That was the signal that he was finally ready to get down to work and we could start our day. It was so amusing. Horses are not dumb animals and they have amazing personalities —“ all different and individual.

8/20/2014 8:21:56 PM

Thank you Dave for sharing your experience. Horses are indeed magnificent and have some great personalities too! Looks like you came upon some good horse humor. Glad you enjoyed the story - Jamie www.jamiecearley.com

8/20/2014 12:48:05 PM

Jamie, I've never heard that explained before. I always believed the myth that horses never laid down except during giving birth. If they did they were either sick or dying. Then my friend with Arabian horses wanted me to what his herd for a week while he took one of his horses to a show in Colorado. The first day I came to take care of them, one was laying down flat on the ground. I thought for sure it was dead and how would I explain it to my friend that one of his horses had died while in my care. The horse never moved or flinched a muscle until I got to about 10 feet away. Then it jumped up and trotted off as if to say, "Ha ha, got you that time." Horses are magnificent creatures aren't they? ***** Have a great horse relationship day.

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