Can be Mounted or People-accompanied Horses Swim Through Deep, Fast Water Rivers?

Can horses swim?

Like all mammals, horses can naturally swim. As soon as the hooves are off the ground, they instinctively begin to kick their legs like a fast trot. The court soles act as small paddles that move the horse forward. However, swimming is quite a feat for horses, which primarily demands the cardiovascular system. As with humans, there are horses that feel comfortable in cool water and others that are afraid of water. Wild horses, for example, only swim in emergencies.

In the hot summer months, however, a dip in the lake or in the sea is a tempting and refreshing experience for many horseback riding enthusiasts. If your horse has little or no fear of water in general (e.g. the hose), you can at least try one outing with some preparation.

Get used to the water slowly

You can start in the summer by regularly hosing down the hooves with a wet brush or hose after work. From below you feel your way up the horse’s legs a little higher each time. If you ride out during or after a downpour, you will take the puddles or even light waters with you. If your horse refuses, give him time and don’t pressure him. If you ride in a group, there may be braver animals who will motivate your horse to jump into the water, following the herd instinct. A lambskin saddle is a good choice: If it gets wet, it dries quickly and is easy to wash, so that no water stains remain, e.g. on leather.

Into the water without a saddle

If you and your horse think you are actually swimming together, it is best to remove the saddle and bridle and remain seated on the horse in the water to protect yourself from the paddling, vigorously beating horse’s legs. After the bath you take off your wet bathing suit and take enough time to dry yourself and your horse.


Although most horses do not enter the water voluntarily, patient and sensitive aqua training can help to strengthen the muscles, heart, and circulation, e.g. after operations or long-term injuries. The natural buoyancy protects tendons and joints, while the rest of the body works at full speed and is trained, which shortens the build-up phase after an illness.

Pony swimming

There is a breed of pony that, according to legend, has swimming in its blood. The Assateague Pony is said to be descended from Spanish horses that were brought to America by ship in the 16th century. Shortly before reaching the east coast, the ship capsized, so the horses managed to swim to shore. This legend has become an annual happening in which around 150 animals, previously examined by a veterinarian, swim from boats and under supervision to an island in the US state of Virginia, 300 meters away. This spectacle attracts around 40,000 visitors every July and ends with an auction, the proceeds of which go towards the preservation of the ponies.


Can all horses swim?

All horses can naturally swim. Once their hooves are off the ground, they start paddling. Of course, not every horse will complete the “seahorse” the first time it is led into a lake or the sea.

What happens if a horse gets water in its ears?

The organ of equilibrium is located in the ear and if you then get water in there, you may have difficulties in orienting yourself. But then you have to get a lot of water in there. So just a few drops won’t do anything.

Can a horse cry?

“Horses and all other animals do not cry for emotional reasons,” says Stephanie Milz. She is a veterinarian and has a horse practice in Stuttgart. But: A horse’s eyes can water, for example when it is windy outside or the eye is inflamed or ill.

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