Help! My Horse Lies Down in Water

How to make sure your horse doesn't roll in the water on your next trail ride.

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Young Rider Magazine LogoQ: My mare lies down when we go through water. What should I do to stop her from doing this?

A: The next time you ride your mare through water, make sure you carry a crop. It’s important to keep your horse moving through the water the first few times you make the crossing. If she dawdles, give her a strong tap with the crop behind your lower leg to keep her moving. You don’t want to give your mare the opportunity to lie down. If you’re not carrying a crop and you’re riding western, give her a pop on her hindquarters with the ends of your reins. Get your mare’s attention.

Water Crossing

Once she has gone through the water crossing a few times, allow her to walk into the middle and let her stand for a moment. Horses usually give their riders some pretty obvious signs that they want to lie down; for example, pawing and lowering their head. If your horse starts giving you these signals, get her attention back on you by pulling firmly upward on one rein to bring her head up again, and then give her a strong bump or two with your legs. You must be quick though. If she keeps pawing, put her to work. Circle her in the water if there’s enough room and it’s safe. Walk back and forth through the water several times and then continue on your ride.

The secret to stopping a horse from lying down is to keep her working and paying attention to you, even when she’s standing in water. Ride your mare confidently every time you approach a stream or water crossing, and be ready to pull upward with one rein. Don’t let down your guard, because your horse may try to lie down again.


This article originally appeared in the September/October 2014 issue of Young Rider magazine. Click here to subscribe!

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