Water is heaven to relax for anyone on hot summer days. How about horses? Can horses swim? When you want to treat them some times to relax, ever wondered if it’s possible to take your horse swimming in the water? 

If you go to most beaches today not seeing horse swimming, it doesn’t mean that it can’t, or shouldn’t. It can swim naturally without having to be taught. Not only for fun but swimming also benefits the horse’s health more than we expected.

can horse swim

Do horses like water?

Like humans, horses are separate individuals. Therefore, the reaction of each horse to swimming underwater will be different. While some like watery places, there are also plenty that don’t. 

There are several reasons for horses’ anxiety towards water that you should consider before taking your horse swim. Below are the common ones that you can keep in your mind:

  • Horses have a limited depth perception due to the position of their eyes – they’re on the side of the head. This prevents the ability to perceive details in front of them, which makes swimming a scary experience for horses or any other predated animals.
  • In many cases, your horses may have a bad experience with water in the past. Therefore, they associate it with something negative. This led to horses being scared of going into the water and may never be comfortable with swimming.
  • They don’t like getting wet – whether horses can swim or not, there are some horses that simply just don’t want to be covered by water! Just like certain dogs, cats, or other animals, they can easily get frustrated when the fur is wet. 

Naturally, in specific circumstances, unknown watery places make horses feel vulnerable and increase anxiety. Many horse owners can’t even bathe their animals since horses don’t want to cooperate. 

In this case, building confidence slowly is key. The watery anxiety of horses can be solved by helping them adjust to the water gradually than throw them immediately into the river or sea.

Can horses swim?

Well yes, they can. Horses, like many other mammals, have a natural instinct to float pretty well when in deep water. And all of the different horse breeds seem to know how to swim without being taught. Dealing with deep water is just simply a part of their natural movements.

Up to this point, we all clear that horses can swim. But how? 

When a horse gets submerged in deep water, its body will remain afloat and its legs will move like a paddle in order to keep balance as well as their stability. However, when it comes to actually horse swimming, it’s no longer “floating” but rather “trotting” through the water, in which their legs movement will be the same style compare to trotting on dry land.

While trotting, horses will instinctively hold their heads higher than the water level to breathe normally. As horses can’t hold their breath, they can be in danger or even drown if their head goes under the water. Another threat is water accessing their ears – It causes horses to suffer discomfort and maybe, ear infections. 

Due to the breathing problems, unless we get a horse to be comfortable with water in advance, they could possibly drop their heads below the water in a panic and can’t breathe – then they sink.

How long can horses swim?

Can horses swim? Yes. However, swimming is tiring for horses due to the resistance of the water, which makes them can’t swim for so long at one time. 

The length of time for horse swimming will normally around 5-10 minutes. After 10 minutes underwater, a horse will possibly in danger, especially if they’re unfamiliar with water beforehand. 

how long can horse swim

In fact, horses spend a lot more energy in the water than on the dry land. A 10-minute swim can equal several miles of running for most horses. Their energy can drain out real quick underwater so you won’t ever want to overdo your horses! When their 10-minute swimming duration ends, you should take horses to dry land in order to check their physical condition and help the breathing return to normal.

Any benefits of horse swimming?

Horses swimming is tiring doesn’t mean that it has nothing to do with horses’ sake. On contrary, swimming has many benefits for horses, which is why it’s highly recommended by vet doctors. 

  • Fitness – As swimming scoops out a lot of horses’ energy, it can help with the fitness, flexibility and stride of a horse, which is really good for sports purposes. The resistance of the water even increases the capacity of the hearts, lungs as well as toning the horse’s muscles.
  • Rehabilitation – After an injury, swimming is considered an excellent treatment for horses’ recovery. In this way, horses don’t have to carry their weight that puts pressure on the injury but can exercise at the same time to fasten the healing process. 
  • Fun times for horses – Swimming on a hot summer day with your friendly mammals can never be missed! It helps to cool your horses down and get them to be more familiar with water. Be sure to check your horses’ reactions to water before jumping into this fun activity. Your horse will be very enjoyable, that feeling like when he is groomed by the best heavy-duty horse clipper!

Is it safe to ride a horse when it’s swimming?

Can we ride a horse when it’s swimming? I’ll say yes. Still, we need to keep in mind that riding a swimming horse can be pretty dangerous.

ride a horse when it’s swimming

Since swimming is not fully comfortable for horses, it’s seriously important to not hinder his movements and avoid getting in the way while riding a swimming horse. Especially horse has to be able to move its head freely to keep above water for breathing. 

Besides, remember to jump off the horse quickly when you see them paw at the ground after swimming. Most horses will roll when they come out of the water to dry their fur so be aware. Don’t get yourself hurt by this!

Riding a swimming horse could be so excited yet challenging. If you want or have to do so, prepare yourself knowledge about horse swimming and check your horse condition often to make sure they have enough energy to carry you underwater.


After all, can horses swim? Swimming is in their DNA. However, not all horses are comfortable with this activity. If it is the first time swimming, it should be a good experience for your horse. If riding a swimming one is included, make sure it’s safe for both you and the horse. Taking your horse swimming can be an enjoyable activity so let’s carefully make it a memorable experience.