Yes! A horse can swim. Many vets and training institutes suggest swimming for the horses for their fitness. It is always a fun activity during a warm sunny day as long as you and your horse are ready for it. To prepare any pet for swimming, you have to train him physically as well as mentally. It is essential to teach them how he can enjoy in the lake, river, or even in the ocean. You have to create your own signals that can help your horse to learn faster and swim safer.
How Do Horses Swim?
Level 1: Train Your Horse On The Ground
If you think that you should train your horse to the edge of the water, I am afraid it is not the right approach. Firstly, you have to teach him the basic cues on some firm grounds. He must understand how to respond when you approach him with the basic rein cues. Once you and your horse are in the water, you will be unable to see each other. So, teach your horse how to behave in the water and not get scared/panicked during swimming.
Level 2: Find A Safe And Clean Swimming Spot
After completing the training on the ground, find a safe swimming spot. Carefully check if there are some obstacles underwater. If there are some broken trees, branches, or other garbage such as glasses, pilings, etc., remove them. Also, make sure there is not a steep drop-off or deep mud into the water. The underwater bottom should be sandy and must have a lot of space for the horse to swim.
Level 3: Prepare Your Horse Mentally
Before going to the swimming place, keep one thing in mind that if your horse hesitates or refuses to come into the water, it is not the right time. Teach him or revise all the cues to make him aware of the little bit of water before causing him to swim. Also, as a horse’s legs are long, you should use a stick to know how the bottom may react to the force. Plan to get wet and muddy before swimming. Train them to keep their eyes, ears, and nose above the water surface.
Level 4: Training In The Shallow Water
Many horses are fascinated by water. Initially, they roll and make noises enjoying the water. But, he doesn’t want to do anything more than that. He tries every possible way not to go in the water. That’s why it is essential to review your ground lessons. This way, you can guide him to move ahead and stay in the water. Give him time to look and smell it so that he can convince himself that the water, the swimming spot, and swimming as a whole is safe. He and his master both will be fine here.
Being a rider, you have to make sure that you can’t afford to go into the water until and unless you are fully confident about the excellent control. Firstly, give him the ‘Go Forward’ cue. If it doesn’t work out, go somewhere else, and revise the signals. Never force him as it is dangerous for you both. You can try to pamper him by splashing some water on his belly, chest, or legs. Most horses love it and allow you to splash even on the back. Make him realize that water is a fun thing.
Level 5: Allow Your Horse To Swim
Cues and exercises make the swimming activity easy for the horse and help you to move your horse further into the water. Let your horse take his time. He may make circles, and after some time, he starts swimming in the same formations. At the time of swimming, just like humans, he will bring his hind legs up and stretch them to the side and then behind. (Never swim behind the horse and have a safe distance to avoid his kicks under the water.)
This way, a horse can swim. Many people also ask me if a horse can swim with a rider or not. Let me give you some information about the same.
Can Horses Swim With A Rider?
If you and your horse are the best pals, you may want to ride him even at the time of swimming. Don’t worry; it is safe if you both have appropriate training. When he starts swimming, climb and sit on the back just like you do on the ground. If he feels okay with your weight and continues swimming, then you are all set.
But if you think that he feels tired and going down in the water because of you, then stop. Swim ahead and get control of your horse by holding the main rope. If you are about to lose control because of any reason or he swims faster and going far, spare the rope. He will come out of the water at some point as you have trained him well.
It is essential to understand that you cannot risk your life. Don’t hold the rope tight even when your horse is scared or panicked if you don’t want to get any severe injuries. Be particularly careful if two riders are there for swimming with their horses. Keep a reasonable distance between you.
Swimming is one of the best exercises for the animals as well as humans. But don’t overdo it. Have certain intervals so that he can stand and relax. Usually horses breath loudly at the time of swimming, but if you feel something negative, immediately give your horse a signal to come out of the water. This activity should be a memorable experience for you and your best pal. Stay safe. 🙂