Ain't nuthin like ridin' a fine horse in a new country - Augustus McCrae – Lonesome Dove

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Swimming Horses~

Today I watched a friends video - they were riding their horses in a river - where the horses could walk on the river bottom.  Comments were made asking about how horses swim etc.  The above edition of the Virginia Explorer - was published by the Virginia Museum of Natural History, Summer of 1997 & included a story that I'd submitted on that topic.
Virginia Museum of Natural History - Publication
I was thrilled when we received a copy in the mail & my story was included, along with several top riders - Kanavy, Morris & Flemmer.  For several years we made the trek to Ocean Shores & stayed with Patty Seaman at her wonderful Lazy Doctor Ranch.  $10 for a stall & free camping! 
Click on the photo -  Control+ on your computer will enlarge the print.
When I mentioned our experiences to a friend, he shared his story of the drowning death of his Arabian Stallion in a river near the beach.  The horse did Not know how to swim - some just don't have that instinct.  My mare Alexi, the first year we went in, actually let the current lay her on her side, before I started yelling;  "Swim girl!  Swim!"  :-) 
My story starts at the bottom of the first column
Butch's beard & Jas's mane were streaming seaweed!  Not just water!  :-)  He said that she loved it!

What I didn't mention in this article, were the two close calls that we had other years...  We again had the horses in the river, Pat was on one of her mares.  The water got really deep & the current was swift.  The next thing we knew, Pat's mare was going under!  Pat - a strong swimmer - was off & doing everything she could to get a hold of the mares head & pull it up!  The mare's nostrils finally appeared above the water & with Pat's urging she began struggling to reach shore.  With a western saddle & pads, all soaked - the weight alone had to make it difficult to swim.  Once she was on shore - we all breathed a sigh of relief.  (We had always removed our tack, but this time - had thought that the water wasn't as deep...)

Another time, again with a huge amount of water surging around us, I was on Jas, ahead of Butch - who this particular year was riding Khaz - young & totally inexperienced.  Suddenly, I was struck on my shoulder from behind!  Again, the bottom was gone, Khaz got scared & decided that he needed to be closer to Jas - in the process he reared into the air & had struck me with his front foot - knocking me out of the saddle.  I am NOT a strong swimmer!  I managed to grab the breast collar as I was going under.  Her legs were striking me as she swam & I actually thought I was going to die!  My body wanted to float up & I felt her belly against mine.  At least this got me out of the way of her legs.  

She swam & swam, dragging me along with her - until I felt the mud coming up under me & we were almost to shore.  I pulled myself up & out of the water, to find Jas mired to her chest in muck!  Butch & Khaz were out by now.  Jas just looked at us...  The absolute worst feeling imaginable - seeing her so stuck!  Butch & I started yelling at her to; "Get Up & Get Out!"  She made a terrific effort, raised her front legs up & out of the muck & in the next instant, surged up & onto the shore! 
Back at the Ranch - soaked through~  9/95
Swimming with horses is fun, very fun - but carefully consider what you're doing.  Know the water you're entering, have friends with you, don't take it for granted that your horse can swim... & stay safe!

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