Can Music Help Your Horse Feel and Perform Better?

05.21.2024
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by Matt
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We’ve all heard about the magic of Mozart for babies, how it stimulates their brains and supports their language development. But could the power of music extend beyond humans? And could it also be beneficial for horses? A 2015 study conducted by the Journal of Equine Veterinary Science suggests that music might indeed have a positive impact on the well-being and performance of race horses.

The Study and Its Findings:

Researchers from Poland aimed to determine if playing music in the barn could influence the emotional state and performance of race horses. They conducted a study with 70 three-year-old Purebred Arabian horses in their first racing season. These horses were divided into two groups: The experimental “Music Group” consisted of 40 horses that listened to music for five hours each afternoon, and a control “No Music Group” of 30 horses did not listen to any music. The researchers measured the horses’ emotional states using heart rate (HR) and heart rate variability (HRV), indicators of how calm or stressed the horses were. These measurements were taken at rest, during saddling, and during a warm-up walk with a rider, every 30 to 35 days over a period of six months.

The findings were exciting, with horses exposed to music showing signs of reduced stress after just one month. Their heart rate and heart rate variability measures indicated a calmer state compared to the horses that did not listen to music. The calming effects of the music were even more pronounced during the second and third months. What’s more, the horses in the music group not only appeared calmer but also performed better in races, winning more prizes than those in the no music group.

However, this trend diminished overtime: By the fourth month, the horses seemed to become accustomed to the music. Their stress indicators began to revert to initial levels, suggesting that the music’s calming influence decreased over time.

Incorporating Music into Your Barn:

Adding music to the barn environment can be a simple yet powerful way to enhance your horse’s well-being. According to the study, playing music for about two to three months can significantly reduce stress levels in horses. After this period, the effect may diminish as the horses become accustomed to the music, so it might be beneficial to change the music or provide breaks to maintain its calming impact.

When it comes to choosing music, studies conducted at Hartpury College in the UK revealed that horses showed a preference for classical and country music over jazz and rock. Classical and country tunes were found to promote calm behavior, while exposure to jazz and rock music resulted in more stress-related behaviors such as stamping and head tossing.

Practical Tips:

  • Choose the Right Music: Opt for music specifically composed or chosen for its calming effects on animals. Avoid sudden loud noises or high-energy tunes that might startle or stress the horses. Interestingly, Youtube has relaxing music and videos specifically for calming horses!
  • Consistency is Key: Play the music regularly for several hours a day to establish a soothing routine for the horses.
  • Monitor and Adjust: Keep an eye on your horses’ reactions and be ready to adjust the type or duration of music if the calming effects seem to fade.

Music can be a valuable tool in managing the stress and enhancing the performance of horses. By incorporating music into the barn environment, horse owners and trainers can help their horses stay calm and perform at their best. It’s a simple, effective, and non-invasive method to improve the overall well-being of your horse. So why not give it a try and see how music can make a difference in your horse’s life?

Interested in the topic? Read our blog post on “Can music relax horses?”:  https://equinefacilitydesign.com/equine-care/music-relax-horses.htm

Sources:

Journal of Equine Veterinary Science on “Does Music Influence Emotional State in Race Horses?”:
https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0737080615004153?via%3Dihub

Hartpury University Study on “Auditory stimulation of the stabled equine; the effect of different music genres on behaviour”:
https://www.researchgate.net/publication/249339705_Auditory_stimulation_of_the_stabled_equine_the_effect_of_different_music_genres_on_behaviour

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