Horse Lies Down Suddenly on Walks
My new seven-year-old gelding has a disturbing habit of lying down while I am riding him at a walk. He is healthy according the vet check. I have noticed that he tends to do this in the same place in the arena. He has also done it on the lunge line, as well as on a ride across the pasture in addition to when mounted in the arena. I get him back up and continue, but he gives little warning before going down.
Laura, I suspect there is some stimuli causing this response. The fact that it continues means that somehow he is being reinforced for it. So, time for a detective hat! I suggest filming him so that you can get a good idea of what may be impacting him before he goes down. (I understand the behavior is unpredictable, so thank goodness for digital devices, as I suspect you will be recording quite a bit of data that you will not need.) For example, are you leaning forward, about to ask him to move into a different gait? Are you taking a hand of a rein? Is a certain horse nearby? Be open to all possibilities—behavior happens because it feels good, or less bad, than what he was doing. Let us know what you find!
- Dr. Weiss