---"I'd love it if he could trust me enough to lay down flat on his side anywhere when I asked; who has a horse that's so trusting and calm that they can have it lay down in a new place? "---
You asked: http://i13.photobuck...pg?t=1243426388
This older broodmare given to us was too crippled to stand long enough to trim comfortably, so I taught her to lay down on command.
You can see the ground around her was not disturbed, she laid down on her own for me.
I think that some that lay horses down against their will, on the theory that the horse will be submissive, that is the reason many give for it, may not be understanding how horses think.
Do we really think that getting a horse down, not as a trick you teach, the horse a willing participant, but against the horse's will, results in a horse that now thinks humans make any sense?
By TRAINING a horse to lay down on command, the horse is showing true willingness to submit AND understands what is going on and is being asked of it.
There are several ways to lay a horse down, but I think that it is better to have a horse cooperate and learn what you want, lay down and stay there and get back up on command and even better if you also teach a trick done laying down, to pull a blanket over themselves.
For that, you have previously taught it to grab things and pull gently on them.
We don't just tie a horse to a pole and let them fight it out the first time, we work with a horse to give and by the time we tie them, they may feel in a new situation, but they learned before how to respond and will try the rope, give in and stand ther, if we did our work right.
A horse laid down against his wishes is not understanding, other than people really are goofy.
Some will fight it, others, if they are accomodating, won't, but making sense to a horse?
I doubt it.
Always, when you do something, whatever you do, study the situation from many angles, don't take anyone's words as gospel.