Since ancient times, we've relied on horses for everything from transportation to competition in equestrian sports, and they've always been our faithful companions. But have you ever considered whether or not horses are capable of swimming? Although this may seem like an odd question to ask, horses are recognised for their power and athleticism; nonetheless, it is kind of hard to image a horse being able to swim. Today, we are going to investigate the subject of whether or not horses are capable of swimming, as well as the ways in which their anatomy and behaviour contribute to their swimming abilities. Let’s get started.
Do Horses Know How to Swim?
Sure, they can! Swimming is a natural ability for horses, and they can do it on their own without needing any special instruction. When they come across water that is starting to get deeper than they are able to stand in, they unconsciously move their legs in a pattern that resembles trotting, which is kind of like how a dog will doggy paddle! Their enormous lungs assist them to stay buoyant and breathe effortlessly since they are so massive. It is essential to keep in mind, however, that not all of them take pleasure in going swimming, and some of them may even have a strong aversion to water. Swimming demands a lot of energy as well, and they are only able to keep it up for a limited amount of time and distance before they become exhausted.
There are five fascinating things to know about horses, water, and the way they move.
1. Horses have the ability to swim approximately one kilometer.
Horses are natural swimmers and can maintain their endurance in the water for approximately half a mile or thirty minutes without becoming fatigued. On the other hand, as is the case with the majority of things, training and practise can increase this average for certain horses, provided that the conditions are satisfactory. For instance, a horse was pulled from the water after swimming for seven miles to get to safety in a story that was published in the year 2016! After dumping his rider, Rebel Rover ended up dashing into the ocean and swimming there to swim to safety. The fact that the horse's owners included swimming as part of the training programme helps to explain how he has possibly made it this far; he was somewhat acclimated to the water as a result of this.
2. A horse may guzzle a huge amount of water in a single sitting.
The amount of water that a horse consumes in a day can range anywhere from five to fifteen gallons, depending on the horse's size, the intensity of their daily activities, and the surrounding conditions. But, keep in mind that this is just a general guideline, and the amount of water that a particular horse requires may vary. When they consume that much water, it's possible that they won't even need to swim to get out of the water; they can just drink their way out! Horses who live in specific regions have developed the capacity to go for longer stretches of time without needing to drink water, similar to the way camels do. This is especially true in climates that are predominantly arid. In addition, the majority of the water that most horses require is obtained not from drinking alone, but rather from the grass that they consume.
Young foals are able to swim after their dam out to the marsh islands almost as soon they can walk. This small band is actually wading (feet on the ground) as they cross between islands. A swimming horse will have just its nose, face, eyes and ears out of the water. pic.twitter.com/B6EuIUPzfr— Cape Lookout (@CapeLookoutNPS) July 22, 2022
3. It Is Possible for Horses to Swim While Being Ridden
It is not impossible for a horse to swim while carrying a rider; nevertheless, riders should take care not to interfere with the horse's natural motion or head carriage when the horse is swimming. Because the horse has to be able to move freely, the rider should remove the saddle and give the animal some slack in the reins. This is especially crucial in an area that the horse is probably not as acclimated to as other environments. Also, because swimming while carrying a rider can easily tyre out the animal, adequate rest and breaks are required to ensure the highest level of safety.
4. Horses are Capable of Swimming Around 2.5 miles per Hour in the Water
The maximum speed that a horse is capable of swimming is approximately 2.5 miles per hour, which is far slower than their running speed on land, which may sometimes be in excess of 30 miles per hour under some circumstances. A horse swimming at this speed would look like a person running slowly. It goes without saying that if there was a rider on the animal, its swimming speed would be significantly reduced in comparison to when there was no rider.
5. Therapeutic applications of water and swimming for horses include:
There are many different applications for swimming and water therapy in the realm of equine rehabilitation. Because of its buoyancy, water helps relieve the pressure that would otherwise be placed on wounded limbs and joints. Also, it offers resistance, which helps to improve muscular strength as well as cardiovascular health. The temperature of the water should be adjusted according to the nature of the wound being treated and the effect that is desired. While warm water enhances blood flow and metabolism, cold water is more effective at reducing inflammation and associated pain. Swimming pools, underwater treadmills, cold-water spas, and cold hosing are just a few examples of several types of water-based rehabilitation approaches. In point of fact, many of these very same activities are employed by humans seeking low-impact forms of exercise and rehabilitation (think water Pilates for seniors).