When swimming with your horse, it is critical that you allow him to do what feels natural in the water, not to get in the way of his movements. It is important to not rush the process of getting the horse used to the water and to swimming.
Your horse may need to gradually become wet and used to feeling weightless before they need to really go swimming. You will want to introduce your horse slowly to the water, and limit your depths so deep they need to swim. If you cannot swim, you should not bring your horse to the water, you are asking for trouble if you do, consider learning how to swim first. Whether your horse is scared of the water or has had an injury in the open water, the best thing is to get your horse used to the idea of swimming, slowly if possible.
Being patient with your horse and gradually introducing him or her to the water will help build your horses confidence. Swimming helps your horse to get over his fear of water and to develop an unconditional confidence in you.
If your horse has had a poor water experience in the past, it will fear and find it hard to swim in the future. Riding a horse that swims could be hazardous, as he can make sudden rapid movements through water that could knock you out of your stride and get kicked in the foot from a horses moving hooves. A slow moving horse in still water may be able to swim a longer distance than a horse that is swimming against a current.
The resistance of water can make swimming pretty tiring for horses, so they should not be allowed to swim too much at any time. Because of the natural resistance that water provides, swimming is physically taxing on the horse, and they are often expected to breath heavy while doing this kind of exercise. Swimming is physically tiring for a horse due to the natural resistance water provides, and it is common for them to breathe heavily and have their heart rate rise during this type of exercise. Having a rider on the horses back while they are expected to be swimming may make it far more dangerous for horses.
A horse that is swimming does indeed have sufficient buoyancy to hold the rider, as long as the rider allows them to continue moving through the water. As long as horses keep moving, they will remain afloat, and raise their heads out of the water for breathing. Once in deeper water, most horses start swimming, but will naturally turn around and look for the shallows again.
Horses appear to have an instinct to move their legs as they would if they were trotting, in order to progress through the water. When they are in water, horses will float around in order to maintain balance, but when it comes to really swimming, they will go through the water trotting, moving their legs similar to the way they would do if trotting on dry ground. The horse will push its longer, stronger legs through the water to push itself forward, similar to what dogs would do using doggie paddles. Some horses might lower their bodies down on the floor of the lake, and then thrust up using their rear legs, rising up in a jerk, much like a submarine rising up from water.
When swimming deep in water, if you have additional weight pushing on the bottom, keeping your head above the surface is hard; the same is true of horses. You should always exercise caution and never put your horses under much pressure while swimming, because it could cause them to drown. Most importantly, however, do not go too far, swimming can be exhausting for horses, so do not remain in the water too long. Swimming is tiring for horses, so try to keep an eye on your horse and come out of the water when they are still at good energy levels.
There are a lot of factors that need to be considered when swimming open water, making estimating how long your horse will swim extremely hard. The time that a horse is able to swim depends on the horse, as well as on their fitness and ability to perform in water. Yes, horses can and are excellent swimmers, however, often need some assistance to enter the water at first.
Because horses are such big animals and their legs are built to run, rather than swim, you might be wondering whether or not they will be good swimmers. As such graceful animals on land, it might be difficult for you to imagine a horse gracefully swimming in water; however, horses are perfectly capable swimmers. Horses are individuals, like us, and while they do have the natural instinct to swim once in deeper waters, that does not necessarily mean that they enjoy doing so.
While horses may swim naturally, we must nevertheless keep in mind this is not their natural habitat, and it is vital that you are careful to avoid hindering their movements or getting in the way. If the wind is blowing and the waves are large, swimming with your horse may not be safe, and there is a relatively high risk of drowning.
Introduce your horse gradually to water, particularly in an ocean where the waves are breaking up and sand is shifting underneath their hooves. When it comes to speed, the horse is not nearly as fast in the water as he is on land, reaching his top swim speed at around 4km/hr. One thing to remember with swimming as part of your exercise regimen is that it also works muscles typically not desired by horses used for competitive sports, like those used for keeping their heads up and above the water.