Research Update: Music and Horse Stress

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Credit: Thinkstock

Credit: Thinkstock

Training and showing can result in stress among horses. To help reduce stress, researchers from Poland sought to investigate the effects of music in reducing horse stress. The objective of the research was to determine the effect of music played in the barn on the emotional state of racehorses.

Seventy 3‐year‐old Purebred Arabian horses in their first race season were divided into an experimental group of 40 horses and control group of 30 horses and placed in separate barns. The experimental group was subject to music (guitar music performed in a new age genre) played in the barn for five hours in the afternoon during the study, which lasted for three years. The control group had no music played in the barn. The emotional state of the horses was assessed at rest, saddling and warm‐up walk under rider by measuring cardiac (heart) activity, mostly heart rate. Measurements were taken six times, every 30 to 35 days. The music effect on the emotional state was also considered with regard to the horse's performance as determined by race records.

The music positively affected the emotional state in racehorses. The influence was noticeable after the first month of playing music and increased in the second and third months. A positive effect of the music on prizes won by the horses in the experimental group compared to the control group was also found.

The results suggest that music played in barns can improving the welfare and performance of racehorses. For more information on this research, click here.

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