Can horses swim?

Can horses swim?

Since many knowledgeable owners are already aware of the advantages swimming may offer to their horses' health and wellness, the answer to the question "can horses swim?" is unquestionably yes. Equine swimming pools can be a beneficial tool for enhancing fitness or for injury rehabilitation because horses have a natural tendency to swim when in deep water. 

Can a horse swim?

No dorsal fin, no webbed feet, no hermetic nostrils, … Indeed, its anatomy does not let us think that the horse would be very comfortable in aquatic environment. And yet, this one knows how to surprise us. The answer is, yes the horse can swim.

It is true that this requires several types of effort.

First of all mental: the sound of the roar of the water, the reflections of the sun, … these small things, which seem insignificant to us, humans, can be frightening for him.

Moreover, in nature the horse is a prey (not a predator) - and he knows it - that's why he approaches water only to drink or as a last resort, if the danger is felt.

Besides this mental effort, swimming is also a physical exercise for the horse. This is why we find many professionals in coastal regions (like Normandy for example), who take advantage of the benefits of the ground and the tides for the training of their horses.


Some structures are even equipped with swimming lanes to strengthen their muscles. We will tell you more below…

If some horses flee at the sight of the slightest drop of water, you may have already found yourself with your buttocks in the water when you had to cross a river.

Yes, horses are still big children, looking for the first opportunity to have fun, when they are confident!

They know how to be very imaginative when it comes to play: a puddle of water is very suitable for a good roll, it is very funny to splash your rider by hitting the water with your hoof and why not put your head in the water to make bubbles or simply drink deeply!

Just like humans, horses have their own temperament and are all different.

How does the horse swim?

When swimming, the horse primarily uses the trot mechanism to move in a straight line, but it can also use the canter when it needs to turn or to perform an action requiring more strength.

The benefits of a swim for your horse and rider

The benefits of a swim for the rider

What can I say? Swimming with a horse is a simply magical, fun and rewarding experience!

Be careful though, as we said, swimming is physical for your horse, so it will be easier for him to swim if you are next to him or holding onto his manes.

That said, when you know you're going to swim, you prefer to ride bareback: you experience a whole new way of riding, closer to your horse, you feel his muscles and his movements under your buttocks.

It is a perfect moment of complicity and refreshing. In a word, happiness! Discover our swimming stays!

The benefits of a bath for your horse

The horse that swims - if he likes it - enjoys this moment as much as his rider, who takes him out of his routine. Perfect for oxygenating him!

As part of his training, swimming is a complete exercise for your horse:

  • Blood stimulation, which favors the recovery of the limbs after a big physical effort for example
  • Muscle building, with the strengthening of the back and shoulder muscles
  • Endurance and cardio, the physical effort is more intense because the water forces the horse to accentuate its movements and its amplitude

We also use the benefits of water for rehabilitation or recovery after major efforts: this is balneotherapy. There are sedentary centers while others are itinerant and move in your structure.

Where and when to bathe with your horse?

When to swim with your horse?

As for us, it is better to protect your companion from big differences in temperature. The best is when the sun is shining and the water is warm!

It is less pleasant to swim in November in Brittany than in Corsica, in Morocco, or in the South of France in spring or summer!

Where to swim with your horse ?

Swimming with your horse is an equestrian activity which, like all others, requires some precautions! We tend to recommend swimming in ponds or lakes where you can see the bottom and which have the advantage of not being subject to currents.

Safety tips for swimming and bathing with your horse

If you are swimming in the sea: It is advisable to find out when horses are allowed in and when the tides are.

Prefer swimming at low tide to take advantage of a soft and shallow ground, less tiring for the horse. At high tide, you risk falling into the trap of the baïnes: small pools of water that appear calm and attract bathers. Under the surface, there is a particularly strong current that can take you out to sea very quickly!

Once you've found a peaceful spot, start by making sure that the bottom is safe to swim on, that there are no rocks or debris that could cause you to fall or get hurt.

Also, choose quiet, uncrowded areas that are more pleasant for you and your horse. You will have more fun if you don't have to deal with your horse's fear of children's screams of joy on the beach, or with people around.

Think SE-CU-RI-TY! Even if a beach is accessible to you, you must never forget to respect the other users (walkers, bathers, …). For that, you must always remain master of your mount by adapting your pace to the situation.


Frequently asked question

How can a horse drown?

Horses can "drown" through their anus. Indeed, if the horse does not have time to prepare for a fall into the water by contracting the sphincter, the orifice lets water in, weighing the animal down and drowning.

How do you locate a horse under a watering hole?

By locating a watering hole, horses can be encouraged to spend more time in areas of their pasture that are sometimes neglected, such as refusal areas. Placing a horse under a fence makes it possible to feed two meadows simultaneously and is interesting in the practice of rotational grazing.

Why is water essential for a horse's digestion?

Water is essential for the proper functioning of the horse's digestion. It helps the digestive contents move through the intestines and facilitates the exchange of nutrients between cells.

What is the daily water consumption for a horse?

Daily consumption and variation factors Daily water consumption varies from 15 to 60 liters on average for a 500 kg horse depending on the water content of the feed, the physiological stage of the animal or the activity performed, and the weather conditions.

What is the connotation of horses in water?

Generally, they have a rather negative connotation since water is not a natural and very hospitable environment for horses. Therefore, we will often have this vision of a horse with no foot in the water and struggling to stay afloat or reach the shore.

Can horses swim with a rider?

If the water isn't too deep and there aren't any significant waves, horses can swim alongside their riders. However, you should always exercise caution and keep an eye out for any waves or currents that could blow your horse off course.

How fast can a horse swim?

A horse's top swimming speed in the water is just approximately 4 km/h, which is nowhere near as fast as it is on land.
Swimming is a major source of energy for horses. In fact, swimming for 10 minutes can be as exhausting as cantering for several miles!

When determining how long a horse can swim in open water, there are numerous elements to take into account. Additionally, it varies based on the specific horse. Horses have large lungs that help them float, so they don't have to expend a lot of energy attempting to maintain their body above the water; instead, they use that energy to move forward. In comparison to a horse swimming against the stream, a horse swimming slowly in calm water may swim for longer.

Horses differ in terms of their levels of fitness and their talents, so it's vital to watch out for indicators of exhaustion in your horse.

Read more about horses:
How long do horses live?
how to draw a horse?
Do horses sleep standing up?

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