Musical Horses Experiment
 By Winniefield Park   •   7th Sep 2016   •   1,114 views   •   0 comments

Thereís an old saying Ďmusic soothes the savage beastí. While our beasts may not be savage, there may be some credence to the music soothes part of the adage. Many of us like to listen to music while we work, and some riders listen to music while they ride. The use of Ďrhythm beadsí is thought to provide a calming rhythmic background noise while schooling a horse where unexpected noises may be a distraction. Some stables leave a radio on when their horses are indoors.

A French study may further our use of music to help our horses. During the study over 40 racehorses were fitted with special headphones with Bluetooth capability or were fitted with noise blocking ear plugs. A control group was exposed to the same situations, but with no music or noise blocking equipment. The classical-style song that was used was the Feather Theme, which youíve heard if youíve watched Forest Gump. One group of the horses was hauled around in a trailer listening to music and another group listened to the music while being shod. Researchers discovered that horses listening to the soothing music where not as stressed, and went back to normal faster than after the control group. The horses being shod were not as calmed by the music, but calmed faster afterwards.

This research adds to what we know about how music can affect animals. Farms have found that playing classical music may inspire hens to lay larger eggs. A student study reported that hens laid more eggs per week when listening to rock or classical, but fewer when listening to reggae. Dairy farmers have found that piping classical music into their cattle barns increases milk production. Some types of music work better than others. New age, classical and easy-listening seem work better than rock and one barn showed an aversion to Willy Nelson. In France, apparently cows like jazz. Clearly, there are lessons we can take back to our stables.

Not just any music will do, and we canít just expect our horses tastes to align with our own. Four different types of music were played to a stable of horses in Britain. Rock and jazz seemed to trigger restless behavior in the horses that included pawing, whinnying and head tossing. Classical music, country and silence did not. Perhaps the horses were just tired after rocking out? While country music was playing, horses appeared to eat more calmly, while they ate in quick snatches while listening to the rock or jazz.

So how do we bring some music into your horseís life? Consider putting your barn radio on an easy-listening or classical music stable. Donít put it on a news station. That would upset anyone. Run a speaker into your trailer when travelling. Donít put your bluetooth earbuds in your horseís ears. Theyíre too small and they may be lost in there. Wear your earbuds while you ride to either calm you down, or help you maintain your energy, depending on your mood. Try rhythm beads. These horses necklaces jingle as you trot and canter and help drown out distracting background noises when you ride. They also help you maintain cadence when youíre schooling. You can make them yourself, or purchase them ready made. And if you donít have any music equipment, sing. I find this calming and a good way to scare away wild animals on the trail. I donít know how my horse appreciates my song choices. But if Iím more relaxed, my horse should be too.
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