Every horse that comes into the yard, very soon learns to swim. Horses are just like children when it comes to swimming, they swim in a terrific hurry, trying to get to the other end as fast as possible, without any style or finesse! We begin by just teaching them to swim straight and they will probably swim on up to 10 occasions before they start doing ‘laps’ of the oval part of the pool. We think that swimming eight laps right-handed and then doing the same number left-handed, is equal to between one or two canters, depending on the efficiency of the swimmer.
The pool is such a tremendous therapy when for whatever reason, you are unable to ride or canter a horse. Sore shins, muscle twinges, bruises or knocks need not mean that the horse is confined to his stable or restricted to walking exercise. The pool cuts down ‘days lost’ in a horse’s preparation and that can be crucial.
In warmer weather, absolutely every horse swims after exercise, which leaves them comfortable and refreshed before returning to their stable. When the weather is warm, every runner has a swim through the pool before being loaded onto the horsebox and it is very noticeable how much cooler they appear later, on a hot day at the races.