Can Horses Swim? All You Need to Know About Horse Swimming
Horses are gallant creatures that embody strength and elegance. They enjoy galloping around and are quite family-friendly as well. If you’re training them for competitions, their fitness routine involves a range of activities that can improve their dexterity, speed, and energy levels.
They need extensive workouts for their muscles and joints, for which swimming is a great option. But if you’re unsure about “can horses swim,” here’s what you need to know.
Can Horses Swim?
The musculoskeletal system of horses isn’t too different from humans; both creatures are designed to be able to float on water.
In fact, horses can be very good swimmers if trained properly. The action of paddling comes naturally to them; as in the case of most mammals, it’s a natural instinct.
Do Horses Like to Swim?
Just like human beings, horses generally take to swimming really well. There are also horses that aren’t too keen on swimming, and those that are simply terrified of the water.
If your horse is able to get the hang of swimming, they won’t hesitate to enjoy floating in the water and cooling themselves down.
Introduce them to water at their pace, and be patient while they learn swimming. Some horses won’t be able to get it right, and it’s best to leave them be in that case.
How Do Horses Swim?
Horses owe their existence to having swum through water bodies for thousands of years in order to move to fertile lands.
When in water, horses possess the natural instinct to swim. For as long as they propel their body forward, they can continue to stay afloat. They keep their head above water and paddle through the water with their legs.
However, they can drown very quickly if their head is submerged, as they don’t know how to hold their breath.
While some horses take to the water quickly, some might require a little encouragement. If they see you getting into the water, it may prompt them to join you as well.
Is Swimming Good for Horses?
Swimming is an excellent way of maintaining optimal physical health, even for horses. Here is a list of benefits that horses gain from swimming.
#1. Strengthens Their Muscles and Tendons
The tendons of a horse are extremely fibrous and can withstand force by absorbing it during movement. A majority of the horse’s weight is carried by the tendons, so they need to be cared for properly.
Injuries can be extremely debilitating and can hinder their mobility. Swimming can help treat chronic conditions like osteoarthritis and keep their joints from bearing weight all the time.
#2. Improves Cardiovascular and Respiratory Activity
Swimming every day can greatly improve your horse’s heart and lung functions. The physical exertion will prompt rhythmic breathing and blood pumping. Swimming is an aerobic exercise that positively impacts all aspects of their body’s fitness.
#3. Rehabilitation After Injuries
Swimming is an excellent choice if you’re looking for recuperative and healing methods for injured horses.
Swimming in cold water can reduce inflammation and pain in their bodies. Without straining the injured area, your horse can slowly restore their muscle strength and get back to normal.
Pools and water treadmills are used during rehabilitation. They must be constantly supervised by experienced personnel who can intervene in case of an issue.
#4. Mental Stimulation
The emotional trauma and shock that comes with an injury can severely distress your horse. While medication and rest are the primary treatment, a little bit of exercise also helps.
Horses that are confined to small spaces for a long time can become unfit or act out. A change in scenery and physical activity is a form of positive mental stimulation.
However, you have to be extremely gentle and patient with your horse in such cases and prioritize their wants over what works for you.
Can Horses Swim in The Ocean?
Given the powerful swimming abilities that horses possess, they can easily swim in the ocean as well. In fact, horse owners tend to look for places that are close to horse-friendly beaches to live in.
However, great caution needs to be exercised if your horse has taken a liking to swim in the ocean. Stay right by your horse’s side, and make sure you can pull them to safety by using ropes.
If your horse suddenly gets scared in the ocean, it will not know the direction to turn back to the shore. This can end tragically, so try to avoid oceans with turbulent waves and underwater hazards.
Can You Ride a Horse While It Swims?
Technically, you can. Riding your horse while it swims can be a fun experience, for as long as you are extremely careful and keep track of your surroundings.
But you should know that when you ride a horse while they swim, you add extra weight to their body, thus altering their buoyancy. This may cause your horse to lose balance and flail.
Horses aren’t equipped to hold their breath underwater if their head is submerged, even for a few seconds. Therefore, it is best to accompany your horse alongside them while swimming instead of riding them.
How Far Can a Horse Swim?
It’s best not to experiment too much with how far your horse can swim. Factors like your horse’s breed, the strength of the water, depth, etc. determine the duration.
The land is definitely more their turf than water is, given that swimming is quite the energy-draining activity for horses. If they’ve managed to swim for about 10 minutes, that would be the equivalent of running for several miles.
They can achieve speeds of up to 4 kilometers an hour while swimming.
A Few Parting Words
Swimming can be very beneficial to your horses to maintain their health. However, you’ve to take necessary precautions to ensure your horse’s safety.
They may not be deep-sea divers, but they mostly will enjoy splashing around. If not, there are always other fun activities for your horse to engage in.
Hopefully, this article answers your question can horses swim.