Research Shows Country and Classical Music More Restful For Horses

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Research from Hartpury College in the United Kingdom looked at the effect of different music genres on equine behavior—specifically alert and rest behavior. The research, conducted by the Centre for Performance in Equestrian Sports, wanted to observe the difference in horse behavior when exposed to Classical, Country, Jazz or Rock genre music.

Using eight Thoroughbreds that were 8-10 years old in their usual stable, the horses were exposed to various music pieces or no music at all and their behaviors were observed. There were no humans in the stable, and all the horses had been stabled for three hours before the music test started.

The results showed that, “No statistically significant associations were recorded between alert or relax behaviors in Country, Classical, and Control environments. Significant associations between frequency of alert behaviors and Jazz and Rock environments were noted. The latter genres appeared the most aversive, which may be due to fast tempo and minor key, especially in the Jazz piece used. Country and Classical genres were slow tempo with a major key and appeared to result in more restful behaviors than Jazz or Rock.”

The research suggested that further studies are needed with horses, and to determine if there is an effect on the human handler in the stable.

For those of you wondering what music was played:

Day 1) Control (no music)

Day 2) Country Music (Hank Williams Jnr – Ramblin’ in My Shoes)

Day 3) Classical Music (Beethoven – Symphony No. 9)

Day 4) Jazz Music (New Stories – High Way Blues)

Day 5) Rock Music (Green Day – American Idiot)

The research also noted that the findings of the current study “are similar to those presented by Dr. Katherine Houpt et al (2000), who found that country music (the same track used in the current study) resulted in a positive behavioral repertoire during a stressful situation.”