Studies conducted years ago about music and its effect on horses have been validated as an effective way of relieving stress and anxiety in race horses.
The most recent research update was published by Dr. Krishna Martinson, Equine Extension Specialist and Assistant Professor in Animal Science at the University of Minnesota.
Dr. Martinson’s update delved on the study conducted by Polish researchers in 2015, which sought to investigate the practice of playing music in barns as a way of relieving stress and anxiety in race horses. Many horse owners now believe that music has a calming effect and can improve the emotional state of the animals; particularly in relation to feelings of aggression which race horses demonstrate when demanding increased cardiac activity and need for speed.
Based on the findings of the Polish researchers, Dr. Martinson opined that music should be considered as a method of helping race horses calm down, and for eliciting better responses to performance demands usually coming from race horse trainers. Dr. Martinson wrote that like humans, horses also respond to stress in different ways. Just like athletes, race horses likewise experience the positive benefits of staying in a relaxing and stress-free environment.
Academic Researchers Study the Types of Music that Have Calming Effects on Horses
Also in 2015, a separate but related study was performed by UK researchers from Hartpury College for the Centre for Performance in Equestrian Sports. The goal was to determine which music genre, Country, Classical Jazz or Rock, had the most effect on horse behavior during active and alert conditions.
The Hartpury researchers’ study involved 8 thoroughbreds ranging in ages between 8 to 10 years old. The animals were placed in stables without any humans present for 3 straight hours prior to the commencement of the music test. Presumably, to influence the emotional state of the thoroughbreds once the test was underway.
The results of the study showed that there was no statistically significant link to Country and Classical music in control environments, either in alert or relaxed state of behavior.
Nonetheless the slow tempo of Country and Classical music, appeared to have put the thoroughbreds in a more relaxed state during the test period. As opposed to Jazz and Rock music, the horses demonstrated frequency in alert behaviors. The lively tempo of Rock had the most aversive effect as it often caused frequency in alert behaviors in the animals.
In relation to Horse Racing News: Horse News, Horse Industry, News | Past the Wire has noted that the recent number of horse deaths linked to horse races, particularly in Santa Anita Park, have raised concerns of animal activists belonging to a group called Horseracing Wrong . Although it is widely believed that the group’s call for the abolition of horse racing would not draw much support, it does not take away the fact that annually, quite a number of race horses die due to injuries suffered while at the hands of trainers.
This is to suggest that horse owners and racetrack operators as well as racing regulators should also devote attention to the methods and practices used by trainers, before putting the animals under great strain when preparing for racing events.