Radios are common in many barns, and some barns even play music in riding arenas during rides. But does playing music actually benefit your horse? You’ll find differing opinions, but here are some factors to consider when making up your own mind.
Calming Nervous Horses
It is common belief that having background music can help to calm and soothe nervous horses while in their stalls. On racetracks, grooms whistle and sing to their horses as they care for them. You will often find barn radios playing softly, even when horses are left alone in the barn. Many horses seem to enjoy the music, as long as the setup is designed with a horse’s natural habits in mind.
If you want to play a radio in your barn, remember that horses are naturally sensitive animals. They have excellent hearing, and their hearing is a sense that they would use for self-preservation in the wild. Taking away their ability to hear threats by playing loud music may put horses on edge.
When playing a radio in the barn, keep the volume low enough to just establish a background sound. You will also want to carefully choose the music that you play. While hard rock or heavy metal might be your preference, your horse might not feel the same. According to a study by British researchers, horses seem to be relaxed when listening to classical or country music. On the other hand, jazz and rock music resulted in horses exhibiting stressful behaviors.
When you set up your barn radio, make sure that it is positioned well out of reach of any curious horses. You will also want to be sure that no horses can reach the electrical cord.
Riding to Music
Many riders also like to ride with music playing. While playing music through arena speakers is a popular option, some riders choose to play music by using their mp3 players or phones.
There are many advantages to riding to music. Music can help to relax a nervous rider, helping to relax a nervous horse in turn. Music also establishes a tempo, so you may have an improved sense of variations in your horse’s pace.
On the other hand, music can be a potential distraction while riding, leaving you less focused on your horse and the cues that you are transmitting to him. If you play music too loudly, you may miss out on important communication from other riders.
The decision to play music, whether in the barn or while riding, is one that only you can make given your individual situation.