Today, I want to focus on a scene from the 1979 movie The Black Stallion. Watch here: Swimming Black Stallion saves Alec. In this scene, the stallion has already jumped off the burning ship into the water before Alec, the boy, falls in. When the stallion appears, he can be seen swimming towards the boy while keeping his head above water.
To film this scene, the film crew used an actual horse in a water tank and had attached wire cables to the sides of his halter to guide him towards the kid actor. You can see these wires in some of the shots. All the sudden, the horse's head gets pulled hard to his left side and turns him upside down where we can see his legs thrashing above the surface. This was actually a mistake done by the horse handlers as the person controlling the horse’s left side wire pulled too hard and flipped the poor horse over. Luckily, the horse was able to correct itself and get its head back above the surface on his own and swim on.
Horses can swim if they need to. Their bodies are buoyant enough to keep their heads just above the water to breathe and their powerful legs are able to push them forward. Horses in the wild will swim across rivers to richer grazing grounds or to escape from land predators if necessary. However, since they are not built for swimming, they can only tread water for a short time before they become exhausted, which puts them at great risk of drowning. I recently read a news article about a girl who took her pony swimming on the beach and the pony panicked in the water and swam further out into the sea because he did not know how to turn around, and then he drowned.
Many horse owners today love to take their horses swimming to cool off during the summer months. Some precautions horse owners should keep in mind is to make sure their horses become comfortable in water before they take them swimming. Also, be mindful that water does not get into the horse's ears as they can not drain easily and can get infected. Lastly, be mindful of hypothermia. A healthy horse’s temperature is between 99 - 101F (37-38C.) If a horse stays in cool water for too long, they can become hypothermic. A good rule of thumb to follow is if the water is uncomfortable for the rider, it’s probably uncomfortable for the horse.
Equestrians - have you ever taken your horses swimming?
I am Amy. I love movies, TV, and horses. I grew up with horses and taught kids how to ride during my summer breaks from school. Now I am a country girl living in a city hoping to someday move back into a rural area and own a horse again.