If you have a horse or just love horses, you may wonder about what's going on in their heads and what they're capable of doing. It makes sense because horses are fascinating creatures. One thing you may be curious about is, can horses swim?
Can Horses Swim?
There are some animals that have the natural ability to swim. Dogs are one example. But can horses swim?
It might be somewhat bizarre to think about horses getting into the water and swimming. For one thing, they're so big, and they don't seem to be built to swim. However, appearances can be quite deceiving in this case.
Horses actually do have the natural ability to swim. Many riders enjoy swimming with their horses. Horses paddle through the water, and in the right situation, you and your horse can have a great time!
However, this doesn't mean you and your horse can just jump in without a care in the world. You have to be careful. Even though horses can swim, they can also drown.
You should also keep in mind that even though horses are generally great swimmers, they often need some encouragement to get into the water in the first place.
Even though horses have the ability to swim, it's never a good idea to get into the water with an inexperienced horse and no supervision. You should always have someone with you. You also need to make sure to be careful and make sure you know how to prevent drowning while in the water with your horse.
Benefits Of Swimming For Horses
You might want to know why a horse would want or need to swim when you ask the question, can horses swim?
In fact, equine therapy pools have been around for a long time. They're becoming more and more popular as a part of regular training programs for horses. They're great as a way for your horse to get the exercise he or she needs, as well as to go through rehabilitation after injuries.
The truth is that there are many benefits to taking your horse swimming, aside from the horse enjoying paddling through the water.
Stronger Muscles And Tendons
During a typical set of exercises on land for a horse, the horse only uses 60 to 70 percent of its muscles. These exercises are still helpful, but they don't give your horse the chance to fully lengthen its muscles.
If your horse gets a chance to go swimming, however, it'll have the chance to really stretch out. Your horse's stride will naturally lengthen just to keep the body afloat in the water. Because the muscles are allowed to fully elongate, muscle spasms and stiffness are less of a risk.
Water holds more resistance than air, and it requires more work of your horse. Because of this, a horse that gets its exercise in the water will have a chance to develop stronger muscles and a higher level of endurance than one that gets all of its exercise on land.
Better Internal Health
People who ask "Can horses swim?" might be happy to know that swimming is one of the best ways to increase cardiovascular and respiratory fitness in your horse. Regular exercise is important, and swimming is one of the best all-around exercises your horse can do.
As an aerobic exercise, swimming works your horse's respiratory system. It's really good for heart health because it allows it to relax and contract more efficiently.
As your horse's heart becomes healthier, it's able to work more effectively. The lungs also become stronger and can work faster to bring in oxygen. The cardiovascular and respiratory systems work very closely together, meaning that by improving one of these systems, you can improve the other as well.
Better Mental Health
If your horse has been injured, there's a good chance that it's dealing with fear, trauma, and shock. A lot of the time, injured horses are prescribed medication, rest in their stalls, and very brief sessions of exercise.
However, when the horse is confined to the stall, it can lose muscle tone, become unfit, and develop some psychological problems.
For the good of the horse's body and mind, you should allow them physical exertion and stimulation. If you swim with your horse after an injury, this can be great for its muscle tone and fitness. It'll also get the horse out of the stall and provide it with mental and physical stimulation.
Of course, there are some injuries where the horse really shouldn't be getting exercise at all. You should make sure to consult with your veterinarian before you start any exercise program for your horse.
Tips For Going Swimming With Your Horse
You were wondering before, can horses swim? Of course, the answer is yes, but you do need to take some precautions. There are certain tips that you can follow in order to ensure that your swimming experience with your horse is safe and enjoyable.
Always Check With Your Vet
The answer to the question "Can horses swim?" is almost always yes. However, this doesn't mean you shouldn't check with your veterinarian. Whenever you're starting any new exercise program for your horse, you should make sure your vet clears it.
Your vet can check your horse over and make sure that any injuries it has won't be aggravated by regular exercises. He or she can also tell you whether or not swimming would be appropriate for your horse.
Make sure to start your horse in shallow water. You should introduce the horse to swimming slowly and carefully, particularly if your horse has experienced a trauma around water or is afraid of the water for some other reason.
Be sure to go at a comfortable pace for your horse, so that it doesn't buck or panic in the water. You want to let your horse know that the water can be a safe and fun space.
Take Care Of Your Horse
Make sure that once you're in the water, you pay attention to your horse's behavior. If your horse gets tired, you'll know it's time to start working your way out of the water.
Also, you should bring clean, fresh water for your horse to drink. You might think that the horse is surrounded by water and you don't need any more, but you shouldn't allow your horse to drink salt water. It'll only lead to dehydration.
Use The Right Equipment
You should actually wear a helmet if you're taking a horse swimming. This might seem unnecessary in the water, but it could be very helpful.
Especially if your horse has never been in the water, you don't know how it'll react once it gets in. If your horse ends up kicking you or you end up falling, that helmet could actually be a lifesaver.
Also, make sure to use split reins when you go into the water with your horse. If horses are swimming, they usually thrash and kick around, and connected reins could present a problem.
If you have traditional connected reins, the horse can end up catching his front leg in them and ultimately pulling his head under water. This is the last thing you want to happen because this will lead to the horse drowning.
Be Careful Of Drowning Risks
Before, you had an interest in the answer to the question, can horses swim? You know that they can swim, but this doesn't mean it isn't easy for them to drown.
Obviously, horses can't breathe underwater, so if their head goes under the water, they'll likely drown. You want to prevent this from happening in any way that you can.
Make sure that you don't tire your horse out. Of course, your horse will get tired from the exercise, but don't let it get to the point of exhaustion. Your horse is more likely to drown if it's so tired that it can't focus on keeping its head above water.
Also, you should make sure that your horse's movement won't be hindered in any way. If you ride with a saddle, remove the stirrups so that your horse doesn't get caught up in them. Don't go swimming with any reins that will fix or limit the position of your horse's head -- these can be serious drowning hazards.
Make sure to hinder your horse as little as possible. If you're sitting on its back, this just increases the work for your horse and can lead to exhaustion much more quickly. Swim with your horse, rather than just sitting on its back.
Swimming With The Horsies...
You probably didn't expect all of this information when you first asked, can horses swim? In fact, they can not only swim but in most cases, they should! It's great for them both mentally and physically.
Swimming is not only great exercise for your horse, but it's also a lot of fun. Both you and your horse can enjoy it together. However, as you know, you do need to take certain precautions when you get into the water with your horse.
As long as you're careful and do it the right way, swimming can be a very rewarding experience for both you and your horse. It's definitely worth a try. You'll likely notice improvements in your horse's health and demeanor when you make it a part of your regular routine!
What do you have to say about our answer to the question, can horses swim? Let us know by leaving a comment!
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