Horse can't swim?! - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 15 Old 06-25-2012, 10:48 AM Thread Starter
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Location: Czech Republic
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Unhappy Horse can't swim?!

Hi everybody,

yesterday we took our horses to a pond, it was probably the very first encounter with "so much water" for my 14yo Standardbred mare. I was surprised by how calmly she walked into the water but when we went to deeper water and she tried to swim, she seemed to drown! Pushed her nose under water (and then all her head), in panic, swam to the shore (still with head under water, didn't seem to lift it and breathe) and in that panic she tried to swim although she got to a shallow where the other horses stood on their feet with absolutely no need to swim.
After getting of the water she was quite scared, snorting water out of her nostrils... but later I tried to take her to the deep water again, I thought it was just the "first experience panic", because another young horse that was there also had some problems - nostrils under water when he had to swim for the first time. So I thought my mare could also find out what to do to keep her head above the water to breathe... but she didn't and the same situation repeated again about five times.

I've never seen a horse that can't swim - is that even possible? Any experience with such a problem? I plan to go to the pond again and try it with a rope halter, because with the bridle she could tend to put her head down as a reaction to the reins pulling her mouth (because of the weight of the soaked water - not that I pulled it)...

On the photo you can see a (rare) moment when she held her head high (she's the one in front), but as you can see she's desperately trying to swim although the other horse stands comfortably on his feet even deeper (so she can reach the bottom simply)...

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post #2 of 15 Old 06-25-2012, 05:19 PM Thread Starter
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Come on... I need some advice - do you thing she will learn to swim or is it pointless and dangerous to try?
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post #3 of 15 Old 06-25-2012, 05:25 PM
Green Broke
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Lol Poor girl, I think she just scared herself.. She's not used to it, it's something new, and it snuck up on her. I would just let her figure it out slowly and not push her into it too fast. I did have to giggle at the picture..

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post #4 of 15 Old 06-25-2012, 05:26 PM
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There are lots of things that could play ito your horses seeming inability to swim. I would say the first is natural boyancy... muscle is denser and less boyant than fat, a heavily muscled horse is not going to foloat as well as a fat horse. second, your horse trusts the snot out of you to continue going in after inhaling water.. you could damage that by continued exposure... and last, I don't think swimming with horses is a great idea to begin with, a lot of folk do it and enjoy it.. the potential that your horse in responding to a spook could paw you right under the water and injusre or even drown you.. I wouldn't do it again.. My advice, and what I do (or not do) If I need to cross a river I try to find a shallow fordable spot, if not then I don't cross.. if I absolutely had too though I would get us both in the water but on a long lead and go first...

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post #5 of 15 Old 06-25-2012, 06:09 PM
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They can swim. A lot of race horses are taken swimming as therapy after an injury. We had an old standardbred that was worried about water because he had been swum. He was afraid that the water was over his head, I guess they did not entice him into the pool but simple beat him into it. So, he had to make sure that water was not over his head. It shows a lot of trust in you that your mare went in the water with you. I think there are risks to it and if you decide to swim your horse again is up to you.
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post #6 of 15 Old 06-25-2012, 06:53 PM
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I wouldn't do it again. Sure it looks like great fun and it's cool to do it and tell about it, but your horse can certainly panic and drown itself and you. Don't put her through that again!

If you can't be brave, then be determined, and you'll end up at the same place.
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post #7 of 15 Old 06-25-2012, 10:35 PM
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I'm with the others. If she can't swim, she can't swim. Don't try it over and over again it will just scare her, and potentially cause injury to her or yourself.
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post #8 of 15 Old 06-25-2012, 11:05 PM
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I think kind of mean to keep forcing her into the water like that and kind of risky. It's just not that crucial. You're putting your fun over her safety and mental well being.
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post #9 of 15 Old 06-25-2012, 11:12 PM
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I would be very hesitant to try it again.. :/

She doesn't look very happy at all.

"Strength is the ability to use a muscle without tension"
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post #10 of 15 Old 06-25-2012, 11:28 PM
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Some dogs can't swim and some horses can't swim. If you love her, and I know you do, don't make her do that again. She trusts you. How would you save her if she started to drown? Poor thing.
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