Does music relax your horse?
Most barns have a radio. Sometimes it’s a dusty old clock radio that’s seen better days, sometimes it’s a fancy stereo kept safe from barn dirt with a towel. And barn radios play all sorts of tunes and talk, depending on the barn. Some trainers swear their horses only like country music; some say their horses live for Pink Floyd. Others say classical music keeps every animal in the barn, whether they have two legs or four, nice and relaxed. But does music really relax your horse?
A team of British researchers from Hartpury College decided to end the country-vs-classical debate once and for all, studying eight Thoroughbred geldings and their reactions to various genres of music. Against the backdrops of Beethoven, Hank Williams Jr., Green Day, and jazz band New Stories, the horses seemed most calm and comfortable when they were listening to classical and country. The melodic talents of Billy Jo Armstrong and the fast tempo of New Stories caused the horses to display classic signs of unease, including head-tossing, snorting and whinnying, and hoof-stamping.
Or maybe they were just dancing along?
Not surprisingly, calming classical and New Age music designed specifically to mellow your horse’s mood are readily available on the Internet. Musician Janet Marlow has composed albums specifically tailored to the musical tastes of dogs, cats, birds, and horses. Her Pet Tunes system utilizes a Bluetooth speaker designed to fit each species ‘auditory range, which plays music for calming during grooming, training, and thunderstorms–anytime horses might need extra relaxation. Of course, you could also use the sort of New Age music you’ll find in any spa to relax your horses.
Equine Wellness Magazine offers a few hints on using music to relax your barn. First, keep in mind that horses have a wider range of hearing than humans. What’s okay to you might be blaring-loud to them. Be aware of the volume and the intensity of the music, and make sure that if you’re using a radio with a dial, the tuner is directly on the station and not picking up any distracting static.
And if you find that mucking out stalls to Beethoven just isn’t going to cut it, just remember to change the station back to NPR when you’re done with barn chores. Every kid has to deal with their parents’ music sometimes–horses are no different!