Horses like to swim in the water

Splash around with horses

If the summer months are hot and sunny, the spontaneous cooling in the lake is not only very welcome for people, but also for animals. But although the bathing fun also attracts riding enthusiasts, there are a few things to consider before you go paddling with your horse.

Read what riders have to watch out for when bathing with a horse and where this is allowed at all.

Are horses swimmers?

Unlike humans, horses do not need to learn to swim first, but instinctively move in the water as soon as their hooves no longer touch the ground. They perform the same diagonal foot sequence as in a fast trot and use their hoof soles as small paddles to move forward. But that is also a real show of strength that demands a lot from the horse's cardiovascular system!

In addition, horses dip their chins in the water, but always keep their ears, nostrils and mouth above the surface. This is not only due to better orientation - if water gets into the ear, it can lead to balance disorders, as it does in humans - but also to the fact that horses cannot vomit and the risk of suffocation would be great if water got into their mouth and nose .

What riders should know

Although riding floating horses sounds tempting, caution is advised! The risk of injury is particularly high when the horse tries to swim for the first time. The animal, which may be irritated by the rider, cannot be careful not to hit him with the hooves or legs.

It is more advisable to swim to the side of your four-legged friend and hold on to its mane or neck ring. If necessary, you can also use rein aids to steer it in the right direction.

Only when rider and horse have become a well-rehearsed team in the water should they dare to ride and swim at the same time. As a rider, it is best to take off the bridle and remain seated on the horse in the water, so that one is safe from the powerfully striking horse's legs.

Is your horse afraid of water?

Swimming is not for everyone. Not all horses appreciate the cooling in the bathing lake and not all are as familiar with water as others. Horses, in particular, that come from regions with little rain are not so good at handling puddles, streams and the like.

If riders would like to get their water-shy horse to splash around, they need a lot of patience. You should start slowly and, for example, regularly wash the hooves of your four-legged friend with a wet brush or spray them with a water hose. Step by step you can then work your way up the horse's legs a little higher each time.

As a tip: if you ride out after a downpour, you can try not to bypass the puddles, but to cross them promptly. If your water-shy companion refuses, do not put him under pressure, but give him the time he needs.

Having a companion horse with you, which is an absolute water lover, can't hurt either!

The perfect splash spot

Exploring beforehand is the key to complete bathing fun: not every lake or water point is suitable for horses to swim. A gently sloping bank area is important! If your horse steps on a steep edge and is suddenly literally up to its neck in the water, it can panic. Equally unsuitable are swampy surfaces in which the four-legged friends could sink with their hooves.

Therefore, riders should first look at the relevant areas and decide whether they are harmless. If you have found a good spot, you should find out whether you can swim there with your horses. Because, just as it is for humans, swimming in lakes is often forbidden for animals. If in doubt, you can ask the city whether lakes or water points can be used for swimming.

If private stables have access to a lake and your own horse is not parked there, you can also ask the operator for permission to use the water point.


Once your horse feels safe in the water and you have found a suitable bathing area, nothing stands in the way of your shared paddling fun! You can really enjoy the summer months.