To ensure that your experience goes as smoothly as possible, here are a few practical tips on how to swim with your horse in complete safety during a horse ride and in respect of the animal. If the proposal may surprise some, you should know that it is indeed possible, and that it is even the dream of some !
Can my horse swim ?
No dorsal fin, no webbed feet, no sealed nostrils. Indeed, its anatomy does not suggest that the horse would be very comfortable in an aquatic environment. And yet, the horse knows how to surprise us. The answer is, yes, the horse can swim.
It is true that this requires several types of effort.
First of all mental : the noise of the roaring water, the reflections of the sun, these little things, which seem insignificant to us humans, can be frightening for them.
Moreover, in nature the horse is a prey (not a predator) - and he knows it - that's why he only approaches water points to drink or as a last resort, if danger is felt.
In addition to this mental effort, swimming is also a physical exercise for the horse. For this reason, many professionals in coastal regions (such as Normandy for example) take advantage of the benefits of the ground and the tides to train their horses.
Some facilities even have swimming lanes to strengthen their muscles. We'll tell you more below.
If some horses flee at the sight of the slightest drop of water, you may have already found yourself with your buttocks in the water when you had to cross a river.
Yes, horses are still big children, looking for the first opportunity to have fun, when they are confident !
They can be very imaginative when it comes to play : a puddle of water lends itself very well to a good roll, it is very funny to splash your rider by hitting the water with your hoof, and why not put your head in the water to make bubbles or simply drink deeply !
Just like humans, horses have their own temperament and are all different.
How does the horse swim ?
When swimming, the horse mainly uses the trot mechanism to move in a straight line, it can also use the canter when it needs to turn or to perform an action requiring more strength.
The benefits of bathing for your horse and rider
The benefits of a swim for the rider
What can I say ? Swimming with a horse is a simply magical, fun and rewarding experience !
Be careful though, as we said, swimming is physical for your horse, so it will be easier for him to swim if you are next to him or holding onto his manes.
That said, when you know you're going to swim, you prefer to ride bareback: you experience a completely different way of riding, closer to your horse, you feel his muscles and his movements under your buttocks.
It is a perfect moment of complicity and refreshing. In a word, happiness !
The benefits of a bath for your horse
The horse that bathes - if it likes it - benefits as much as its rider from this moment that takes it out of its routine. Perfect for oxygenating him !
As part of his training, swimming is a complete exercise for your horse :
- Blood stimulation, which favours the recovery of the limbs after a heavy physical effort for example
- Muscle training, with the strengthening of the back and shoulder muscles
- Endurance and cardio, the physical effort is more intense because the water forces the horse to accentuate its movements and its amplitude
The benefits of water are also used for rehabilitation or recovery after major efforts : this is balneotherapy. There are sedentary centres while others are itinerant and move around your structure.
Where and when to bathe with your horse ?
When to bathe with your horse ?
As with us, it is best to protect your companion from large temperature differences. The best is when the sun is shining and the water is warm !
It's not so nice to swim in November or to go horseback riding in South Texas in spring or summer !
Where to swim with your horse ?
Swimming with your horse is an equestrian activity which, like all others, requires some precautions ! We therefore tend to recommend swimming in ponds or lakes where you can see the bottom and which have the advantage of not being affected by currents.
Safety tips for swimming and bathing with your horse
If you are swimming in the sea : It is advisable to find out when horses are allowed in and when the tides are.
Prefer swimming at low tide to take advantage of the soft and shallow ground, less tiring for the horse. At high tide, you risk falling into the trap of the baïnes : small pools of water that appear calm and attract bathers. Beneath the surface, a particularly strong current hides which can take you out to sea very quickly !
Once you have found a peaceful spot, start by making sure that the bottom is passable, that there are no stones or rubbish that could cause you to fall or be hit.
Also choose quiet, uncrowded areas that are more pleasant for you and your horse. You will have more fun if you don't have to deal with your horse's fear of children on the beach or people around.
Think safety ! Even if a beach is accessible to you, you must never forget to respect other users (walkers and bathers). To do this, you must always remain in control of your bike by adapting your pace to the situation.