How To Teach A Miniature Horse To Lay Down? (Quickest Method)

mini horse laying down

Who doesn’t love seeing a horse doing tricks so why not get your horse to lay down on cue. This trick can demand a lot of training especially when not done correctly. There are many different ways to do this and we will explore them so you know which one will suit you best.

So how can you teach your mini horse to lay down?

Teaching your mini to lay down is best started at a younger age, but can be started at anytime. It will be a long process here are some early steps to follow:

  • Choose a saying like “LAY” and have lots of healthy treats available
  • Use a graded hill so they don’t have to lay down at first (halter and lead rope on)
  • Stand on their left side with lead on other. Pick up his left front hoof with your left hand. 
  • Say “LAY” repeatedly while pulling lead rope toward his backside on opposite side so his weight shifts and he starts to lay down
  • Once the leg you are holding touches the ground let go slowly and give them a treat
  • Let them right back up the first time then have them lay down longer and longer continuing to give them treats and say “LAY” until they do it on command

This is just one of many ways to teach your mini horse to lay down. It will take a lot of patience and time for most mini’s, but some will pick it right up.

We love minis but don’t just take our directions from us we have gotten the opinions of many other miniature horse owners that have gotten their horse to lay down. We have curated this information from a number of different horse sites and forums. We corrected grammar and spelling where needed, but the answers remain the same.

How Do You Teach Your Miniature Horse To Lay Down?

Answers From Real Owners

1. CritterHugger “Start with one leg technique” – I can help you with this. Years ago I trained my riding horse to bow and to lay down. I started first teaching her to bow with one leg and

once she was comfortable with that I started to “roll her over” from a bow until she was laying down. Then they have to be taught the cue to lay down. You have to have a horse that is good about

having their legs handled. Always work on soft grass to teach them. You lift their left hoof and pull it back all the while pulling their head back and down with the lead rope until they will “give”

and put their knee on the ground. It usually takes a lot of effort at first. If they are comfortable with this you can start giving them a verbal “bow” cue prior to lifting the leg and pulling back. Just

this step usually takes them a few weeks. The next step is to tap their leg with a whip while telling them to “bow” until they will lift their leg (and leave it up) when you say “bow” then pulling their

foot and head back into a bow. You want to get them to the point where you tell them “bow” and point your whip at their leg (and eventually just your finger, or even snapping your fingers at

them) and they bow. Once they will are comfortable bowing and will stay down long enough, then you can move to trying to lay them down by pulling them over from a bow. You’d give them a

“lay down” verbal cue. Takes a few months of consistent training (like 3 -4 times per week) to teach them. Hope this makes sense. If you have any questions just email me.

2. PaintPonyLVR “Many Different Ways” – There are many different ways to teach them to lay down – depending on what training methods are used. First is to have the basics solid

(haltering, leading, handling hooves, standing quietly at the end of a loose lead line, etc).

Even better – is having one that will allow you to approach and sit with them while they are already laying down. I don’t have too many of those and haven’t worked with any on tricks in years!

I can detail later tonite some tips that have worked for me in the past and that I know are used by others. I currently use a lot of NH stuff (Clinton Anderson) and he now has a whole set of DVDs

detailing trick training including several versions of laying down (expensive ?). If you check out his site, he may have the single monthly episode of trick training available or you might find it on

eBay. Think it’s from 2011? Sorry, I’m not interested in selling mine…

I know of several people that have taught their minis to sit down on a bean bag chair and lay down using Clicker Training as well. Works great with minis! I haven’t mastered clicker training in

any way yet – just starting to explore that with one of my mares… Several folks on this board have used CT, but don’t know if they do the tricks.

3. JLeanard “Face Forward At All Times” – When I taught my mare to lay down, I always faced forward. It was not a conscious decision at the time, but looking back on it now, was probably

a good thing. She has never tried to lay down on the farrier or when I pick her feet. I have not refined her enough to not have to hold her leg while she goes down yet, but she always knows when I

want her to lay down or if I just want her foot. I guess just making it clear to him that that it not what you asked would be the best thing.

I started by teaching her to bow. I would just pick up a leg, say “bow”, and tug backwards a bit until she went down. I’ve also taught bow by putting a treat between their legs and making

them reach until I got the response I wanted. Once she understood bow, I draped a lead rope (attached to the halter) over her back to the off side (where I stood), then looped (not tied) the end

around her fetlock on that side. I held the looped end in one hand, and taught her to pick up her foot when I lifted up on the rope. We worked on bow from there. Once she understood that, I

began pulling her head around gently while asking her to bow, and pressed her withers towards me. She figured out very quickly how to go down. She loves laying down for me because she knows

she will get her belly scratched! I’m sure other’s have better methods, but this worked great for me. I think she learned in two lessons.

4. Marsha Cassada “Hand On Withers” – Well, I stood beside him with my hand across his withers and said “bow” then reached down to touch his leg. That was my cue. So, others have the

same problem with over-eager performers! I will just let him know I am not asking for the trick. Thanks for responding. He just knows he is so cute when he bows I have trouble resisting him!

5. HobbyHorse23 “Be Patient” – That’s the part of training where you modify the original instruction of “Do X when I do Y,” to “Do X when I do Y, and ONLY when I do Y!” It’s a necessary

part of clicker training and trick training in general as most critters (and people for that matter) will begin freely offering behaviors that got them rewards and will go a bit overboard at first.

With a green horse who still isn’t too sure of what you want, ignoring the behavior or gently discouraging them (a calm “Ahht” or a firmer tone of voice) is usually enough. With a more

experienced horse who KNOWS you didn’t ask for the behavior and is doing it when they should be doing something else, you can get a bit more insistent. A few weeks ago out of nowhere Kody

started trying to fold up on me when I went to pick his front feet and was being really compulsive about it. Given that his bow command involves me facing forward, putting a hand on his withers

a certain way and saying “Bow” along with various posture cues, he knew that wasn’t what I was asking for but kept doing it anyway. When laughing at him, saying “Ahht” and simply holding the

foot up didn’t work I asked him for an incompatible behavior. He wanted to fold up and lean backwards, I put him on a Whoa Stand which he KNOWS means to stand squarely on all four feet and

not lean or move until told otherwise. When he dropped his head again in the prelude to folding up I told him “Head Up” and reinforced “Whoa Stand.” Then I praised for following that command

correctly. Just like little kids, it’s easier to redirect them to an incompatible positive behavior then to simply say “No. No. No. No. Not that either” repeatedly[​IMG]

Further examples: When Kody starts getting obsessive about laying down and I’m not asking for it, I’ll say “Head Up” because he can’t put his head up and look at me and still throw his nose to

the ground and fold up. When he offers unsolicited rearing I say “Four on the Floor!” which he knows means to put all four feet down and keep them there. (Head lowering would also work well

for that one.)

It sure is cute at first when they start offering those adorable tricks we’ve taught them,[​IMG]but as you’ve found it gets annoying in a hurry.[​IMG]Just ignore unsolicited behaviors when you’re

not doing something specific with him and if it’s interfering with your activities, redirect him. He’ll soon knock it off! (Be aware, a side effect of that is that he probably won’t do the trick as easily

the first few times you ask for it again [“Wait, you said not to do that anymore!”] but he’ll soon figure out that you only want it when you ask for it.)

6. MiniatureHorseLover “Bow first then lay down” – Hi there I been trick training my mini for two years and never been able to train her how to fully roll all the way ..if u want to train a

mini to lay down, put her at a bow and put pressure on the opposite side near her stomach then u would be more likely to be happy with ur result..Once u got her to lie down u can teach her how

to sit..for sitting put her at a lie down slowly push her head back as if u where wanting her to have a dressage neck lol leaving her with no options but to sit[​IMG]then reward her.For the pedestal,

I grabbed one of her legs put it on it and put pressure on her halter making her go up just keep rewarding them eventually they will get it[​IMG].. also rearing. .my mare never ever wanted to rear

cause to her it wqs dangerous aha so I lifted one leg up as hight as it can and she reared with time[​IMG]or tie a rope around her leg bend it as u where cleaning her hoof then pull on the rope and

she will rear[​IMG]my mini knows sit,lie down,kiss,say yes,rear, walk on her hind legs,bow,smile,shake a hoof and walk on a pedestal[​IMG]lemme know if u have more questions

Final Thoughts

It will take a lot of patience for most mini horses, but they will come to love laying down for you and of course they will enjoy the treats.

Pick a strategy and go with it just be careful make sure you have someone present in case something happens. Minis are small horses but they still do have a lot of power and their hooves can be very dangerous.

Don’t give up once you have started. Each time just try to get a bit further and further and start over when needed.

Starting on a hill makes it so they don’t feel like they are laying all the way down. If you have different graded hills try to make your way down to a flat meadow. You can expand on this by having them rollover all the way or play dead.

One last thing I have heard about teaching your mini or horse to lay down it may not always be a good idea especially with your farrier. I have heard of them having issues because the horse will lay down instead of stand.




I have owned over 50 horses and currently own a small horse farm with 8 horses. I have competed on and off for over 25 years while doing mostly trail riding and cow sorting these days. I write these articles to help anyone out there if you love this article pin it to your Pinterest or Share on other social media platform. Thanks for visiting.

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