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Scientific study of the musicality of horses

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  • Scientific study of the musicality of horses

    Something, I always wanted started some months ago over here in the Netherlands.

    The first outcomes are very interesting, and in some prelimenary footage (broadcasted on Dutch television) we could see riders with a headset (riding to for example on Tango-music) while the horses heard totaly different music (Ramstein, DJ Tiesto etc).

    Some first remarks : In the example mentioned above it didn't change anything for the horse, (s)he rode exactly conform the aids given by the riders, and the horses were not influenced by the out of sync music.
    However it was also obvious that the horses didn't like some parts in the music and very obvious protested against it, but this didn't have anything to do with the tempo, but probably with the decibels and combination of instruments.

    Just some first remarks.


  • #2
    Very cool! When you find out, tell us more about the music the horse's like!
    Kathy Johnson


    • #3
      Theo, this seems like fascinating and very important work. Can you give us the name of the group conducting this study, or better yet a weblink? Thanks.


      • #4
        When I worked at the track I always wondered about this. Some barns would have classical music playing and walk around the corner and there would be heavy rock or metal playing. Pity the poor horse who had different musical tastes. Please keep us updated I think it's a fascinating study.
        Where's the glamour? You promised me glamour!


        • #5
          I think horses don't like music with a lot of surprises in it and sudden crescendos. I don't think horses are music afficianados, I think it's just that they don't like unexpected noises. They react the same way to sudden loud static on the radio.


          • #6
            There's a remarkable difference in the horses when I play Bocelli,Spanish-classical guitar.....compared to sooothing Latin music.They are much more mellow with the Bocelli and guitar music.


            • #7
              Often would ride at my trainer's barn with music in the arena. Just background stuff. My TB-cross mare certainly reacted when the 1812 Overture came on. Hi-Ho-Silver, etc.

              On a more serious note, :-) , we found here at Sapelo that most of the horses mellow out quite nicely with standard classical music. The only horse who didn't seem to care for classical -- the stallion Wap Spotted, for anyone who knows Appaloosa sporthorses -- preferred rap music. He had to suffer for his three years here, though, as we opted to stay with classical. Called it "majority rules". As a general rule, they don't seem totally taken with tunes that are predominantly high-pitched violin...or maybe they're just reacting to my body language as I go around wincing to the tunes that are predominantly high-pitched violin.



              • #8
                Are there other tests being done? The one that would actually prove something to me would have a group of riders each ride the same horse through the same movements three times - once with the rider wearing headphones, once with only the horse hearing the music and once with no music. To be valid it would have to be repeated with many horses, but what fun!


                • Original Poster

                  Originally posted by slc2 View Post
                  I think horses don't like music with a lot of surprises in it and sudden crescendos. I don't think horses are music afficianados, I think it's just that they don't like unexpected noises. They react the same way to sudden loud static on the radio.
                  Yes SLC2 that's also my experiences, based on the fact that I have seen horses always making the same mistake at the same place (read music).

                  But since Isabelle also had this problem in HongKong with or without music, further study has to be done on this subject.



                  • #10
                    My thoughts is they generally seem to like pretty calm, steady music regardless of what humans would call melody--like slc2 said, it's more they don't like surprises, especially surprise loud noises (cf the number of times I nearly ate dirt because one of the barn peacocks was behind a wall and decided to shriek about something.)

                    However, I do know they can learn to recognize certain phrases--once at the county fair, our horse booth people decided to start the day by playing "Call to Post" on the loudspeaker. My OTTB was in his stall and he nearly snapped his panic strap loose bringing his head up when he heard that. He knew what THAT sound meant!
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                    • #11
                      I think that just hearing a "beat" seems to help. I started using some rhythm beads I was given as a gift on the trail so we were making enough noise to alert the deer BEFORE we ended up on top of them. I liked incorporating trail riding into my "program"...so we were still "working" on the trail...just not in an arena.

                      Anyway...when I started using those beads I was amazed at the consistency I was getting WTC. My horse really seemed to zero in on the sound and actually seemed to aim for a regular "beat" moreso than if we rode w/o them.

                      My own little experiment. LOL. Will be interested to hear more!
                      A good horseman doesn't have to tell anyone...the horse already knows.

                      Might be a reason, never an excuse...


                      • #12
                        I think this would be a more interesting experiment on the lunge. After all, the riders are subconsciously influenced by music as well.
                        "You become responsible, forever, for what you have tamed." - The Little Prince