Can horses swim? YES! All horses can swim, if they choose to.
Horses, by nature are afraid of water, as they associate it with danger. And because they are unaware of what is lurking beneath them, in the unknown watery depths below, they have a tendency to feel quite vulnerable at times.
This feeling of uncertainty can then induce a panic state in your horse, which can alter your horse's behavior.
This fear can be greatly reduced, by offering your horse brief introductions to the water.
Always remember to start slow, when you are introducing your horse to anything new.
When introducing them to water, you can easily take them by a small mud puddle, and gently ask them to walk through it.
If they choose to smell it, versus step in it...let them pass by and then reintroduce them again.
Each time they come by the puddle, they will be more willing to step into the puddle. Reward them each time...and be patient! This allows your horse to easily adjust to the water, rather than be afraid of it.
Just remember, if you are afraid, they will be afraid...so, leave your feelings at the barn that day! LOL!!!
The first experience your horse has with the water is the most important one! It can easily determine how it will shape the horse’s actions and reactions around water in the future.
Always choose safety first!
Walking your horse through water, when you're on the ground first, can offer you and your horse a safe way to approach the water puddle, without the risk of you falling off your horse.
Once you conquer a puddle, you can easily walk through streams, ponds, rivers and more. Approach each water hole, like it was your first...quietly and comfortably. Never assume, just because your horse did it the first time, that he will do it again.
However, if your horse has had a particularly bad experience with horse swimming, then it will be very difficult for your horse to overcome that bad experience.
Trauma of any kind, is real!
You can teach your horse to love water, with lots of patience and understanding.
Whatever you do, don't get upset if your horse chooses not to enter the water.
You will get further with kind words and gentle pats, which offers encouragement to your horse's fragile state of mind.
And before you know it, you'll both be 'swimmingly, happy' together!
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We are a growing group of 4H youth & adult volunteer leaders, who love to have fun and learn as much as we can about horses, veterinary science, chickens, dogs, cats, diy arts & crafts, and so much more!