Music Has A Positive Impact on Equine Performance
27 Jun 2015
Do you play music in your stable? Have you ever wondered if horses are affected by music too? Researchers in Poland set out to test if music would affect the emotional state and performance of racehorses over a 6-month period.
Every afternoon for 5 hours, the researchers played music to a stable of racehorses. Meanwhile, there was a control a stable of racehorses to whom no music was played. The horses’ heart rate was used as an indicator of emotional state and was recorded at rest, at saddling and during warm up with a rider.
Overall, the equines exposed to music had lower heart rates and better racing performance than the horses that had no music. These results became apparent after the first month of the study, and peaked at around the 3-month mark. However, by the end of the study, these effects had virtually disappeared and the heart rate of the experimental horses was back on par with those in the control group. This suggests that while the effects of music are positive, horses become adjusted to these effects over time.
The horses who were exposed to music also showed a higher average sum of prize money than the horses who weren’t exposed to the music. As with the heart rate, this measurement peaked around the third month and was back on equal levels with the control group by the end of the study.
The type of music played, was music composed especially for horses by J.Marlow, a composer who specialises in music for animals. Horses have a different hearing range to humans, they can hear frequencies of up to 33kHz, where as humans can only hear frequencies under 20kHz. The music was supposed to be soothing for the horses and so was composed with a low sound frequency.
Positive effects from music, such as lower blood pressure, pain relief, anxiety reduction and lower heart rate have been documented in studies on humans.
Conclusion: the ideal time to start playing music to your horse is 3 months out from a big show! But really, it would be interesting to see further research done in this area.
Stachurska, A., Janczarek, I., Wilk, I., & Kędzierski, W. (2015). Does Music Influence Emotional State in Race Horses?. Journal of Equine Veterinary Science.