Can Horses Swim? 11 Facts You Need to Know

Can Horses Swim Social

As we all know, swimming is one of the best exercises to keep fit. You may wonder if horses can swim. The answer is “yes”. Like most mammals, horses could swim naturally.

As horse fanciers, we should realize that each horse is a various individual with different preferences. And we should respect our horses like our children. If you really want to play with your horse in the water or river, you might invite your horse gradually and patiently.

I like swimming in hot summer. And one of the best ways to relax could be riding your horse crossing the river. There are 11 facts on horse swimming in the following passage. Hope these facts could help you.

Do Horses Like to Swim

Some horses might prefer water and run into the water naturally. And some horses may not like water and refuse to step into the water. Wild horses would have to run across the river to find food or settles. While some domestic horses may not have the chance or necessity to cross the river. Thus they might not like water.

You may need to pay attention to the facial expressions and body language of your horse. If your horse likes watering, your horse may join in your water activity gladly. If your horse doesn’t like swimming, you may get the information from the facial expression and body language of your horse. And you might need to find the reasons and do some measures to comfort your horse.

How Long Can a Horse Swim

The length a horse could swim would depend on various conditions, such as age, health condition, horse breeds, and so on. The environment, weather, and the water situation would also determine how long your horse could swim.

Generally speaking, an adult health horse could swim about 30 minutes before tiring. If the water is cold and rapid, it might be difficult for your horse to swim for 30 minutes. Some horse breeds may be good at swimming, and others may not. The water depth would also be taken into consideration. If the water is too deep, it may not be suitable for your short horse, or young horse to swim.

How Far Can a Horse Swim

Similar to the above question, there are many factors that could affect how far a horse could swim, especially the horse breeds. Some horse breeds with good endurance could swim longer than other breeds and have better performance in the water, such as the Arabian and the Mustang.

In general, a grown horse could swim for about 800 meters before needing a rest. With proper practice and suitable conditions, an experienced horse could swim longer than 800 meters. If the water is deep with strong rapids, your horse might swim slowly and toughly, and could not swim for as long as 30 minutes and 800 meters.

Can a Horse Swim With Rider

Can A Horse Swim With Rider

Generally speaking, a horse could swim with a rider. But if the water is too deep, the rider may float on the water, which is dangerous for the rider. In this way, if you want to ride your horse crossing the river, you should make sure that the depth of the water is appropriate and the water is calm. If the water is deep and rapid with large waves, it may be difficult for your horse to keep balance. And you may be floating or getting rid of your horse.

How Fast Can a Horse Swim

After knowing how long and how far a horse can swim, it is quite easy to calculate how fast a horse could swim. In general, a horse could swim 1.6 kilometers per hour. And there are various elements that could influence the speed of your horse in the water.

Compared to swimming against the river, your horse might swim faster in the calm water or downstream. However, it is impossible for a horse to swim as fast as running on land. It is recorded that the swimming speed of a race horse or a swimming horse could be around 4 kilometers per hour.

How do Horses Swim?

Like dogs and other mammals, horses could swim naturally without being taught. And they could swim by trotting in water, like paddle-like actions. As horses could not breathe in the water, they would put their heads, mouths, and noses above the water.

With water resistance, the horse may consume more energy while swimming. Thus, swimming is one of the best ways to practice the endurance and strength of your horse. But, you should be careful, if you intend to practice your horse in the water.

This is because the surroundings in the water might be various and dangerous. The water depth, water speed, water temperature, and other factors should be taken into consideration. You may close the calm water and proper depth for your horse. If necessary, you can consult your horse trainer.

Safety when Swimming with Horses

Swimming may make your horse exhausted quickly. When swimming, you should pay attention to the physical condition of your horse and how long your horse swims. Your horse may need to have a rest at least every half hour.

Besides, the water condition should be taken into consideration, such as the depth, the temperature, the speed, and so on. The calm shallow water without waves may be the best place for your horse to swim.

What’s more, you should make sure you can control your horse in the water. A rope instead of reins could enable you to turn your horse in the right direction, which may give you a narrow escape in emergencies. This is because most horses could swim directly and it is hard for your horse to turn back in the water.

Can Horses Swim in Deep Water

Can Horses Swim In Deep Water

Of course. Horses could swim in deep water by their paddle-like actions. In fact, horses are good swimmers naturally. So they could adapt in the deep water properly. But most horses couldn’t turn around in the water freely, so you may use a rope to help your horse. Some horses may not use to be ridden when swimming, so some exercise is necessary for both your horse and you. If you want to ride your horse crossing the deep water, you may need to consult an experienced veterinarian or equine trainer.

What Are The Benefits Of Swimming For Horses?

There are a lot of benefits of swimming for horses. Firstly, swimming is a basic survival ability. Swimming practice may give your horse a chance to survive in emergencies. And it also helps wild horses to find food and settles.

Secondly, swimming is one of the best ways to practice the endurance and physical power of your horse, which could make your horse superior in horse racing. Moreover, swimming could make your horse cool down in hot summer. And swimming could make your horse recover faster with less stress. And it is a good way to relax.

Can Horses Swim Faster than Humans

As it is known to all, a swimming horse could swim about 4 kilometers per hour. While an experienced human could swim 3 kilometers per hour. Therefore, of course, horses could swim faster than humans. But this still depends on various conditions, especially the breed and health conditions of the horse, and the strength or power of the specific human. Proper exercises could make both horses and humans swim faster. And professional athletes would have better performance in swimming competitions.

Can Horses Swim in Saltwater?

Of course. You may find that it is easier to float in saltwater. This is because, with the higher density, saltwater provides more buoyancy than freshwater. And buoyancy makes it easy for the body to stay high in water. In this way, horses could swim faster in saltwater

Besides, compared with freshwater, there are fewer minerals and other impurities in saltwater. Thus, swimming in saltwater may be beneficial to the skin, immune, and nervous systems of your horse.


In conclusion, horses are naturally good swimmers. But each horse is a different individual with various preferences. Some horses may prefer swimming and be good at swimming. Some horses may be scared of water and refuse to swim. It is quite crucial for a horse fancier to get along well with horses and pay attention to their preferences and personalities.

Concerning swimming ability, the horse breed plays an important role. If you want to swim with your horse, make sure you find the proper breed. Surroundings, especially water conditions, are also essential to swimming horses. Calm water with proper depth may assure the safety of both you and your horse. Besides, practice makes perfect. Sufficient practice is necessary to make your horse have better swimming performance.

As time goes by, swimming has been a crucial way to relax horses and a rehab technique for horses. Thus, swimming is increasingly important in horse training programs. Hope this article could help you with your horse swimming practice. And you would have a good time with your horse while swimming.

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