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How music influences horses: Horses love this music

by Finia Fischer
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Music has a strong influence on people. But what about horses? In several studies, scientists investigated how horses react to music and which they prefer to listen to.

Music influences horses

It is not only we humans who are influenced by music. In various experiments, different songs and music styles were played to horses and their reactions were documented. It was found that horses are also influenced by music.

Researchers from Poland, for example, found out that foals cope better with the pain of separation from their mother when they listened to a calming piece of music for several hours a day. Their hearts beat more evenly, they were less stressed and ate their hay in peace.

An effect was also found in racehorses. Those horses that listened to a certain piece of music every day performed better on the racetrack. However, this effect only lasted for five months, as a habituation effect set in and their performance from then on corresponded to the original level.

British researchers also found that classical melodies had a positive effect on eating and sleeping behaviour. Especially at night, the animals slept more often and longer in a relaxed lateral position.

What horses like

The test horses of a British study apparently showed a special preference for classical and country music. Here they reacted strongly with signs of well-being.

With jazz and rock music, on the other hand, the four-legged friends were more often stressed and reacted with displeasure in the form of stamping and running around. At the same time, they stopped eating. It is therefore assumed that these two types of music have tone sequences that are too restless for the equine taste.

Not only the style, but also the volume of the music has an influence on the horses’ reaction. Particularly soft tones were well received. This could be a consequence of the horses’ sensitive sense of hearing. It is therefore recommended: Anyone who wants to listen to music in the stable should definitely take the volume into account and show consideration for the horse. Otherwise, the positive effect could quickly turn into the opposite.

The findings of a German study show that music promotes motivation and concentration during training.

Based on the scientific findings of various studies, the American behavioural scientist Janet Marlow developed a ten-minute song composed especially for horses. It is supposed to help horses reduce stress and relax better. 

Sources: i.a. Reinhardt-Journals

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