Stable harmony: Music to reduce stress in horses released


A 10-minute musical soundtrack designed to help reduce horse stress has gone online.

The track was created by Janet Marlow, a sound behaviorist, composer, researcher and founder of Pet Acoustics Inc.

Marlow focused on creating soothing rhythms and melodies composed for the listening comfort of the horse, including specific pitch, tone and frequencies.

Studies show that playing music can help balance equine behavior because it helps mask outside sounds and vibrations, as well as provide a positive and relaxing effect.

The composition has been released by animal health company Boehringer Ingelheim, together with information on the risks posed by stress to horses, and options for reducing it.

Research shows stress can quickly turn into equine gastric ulcer syndrome, with one study showing horses can develop stomach ulcers in as little as five days.

“When Boehringer Ingelheim expressed an interest in doing something to help manage stress in horses, I was extremely interested based on my research in this area,” Marlow said.

“It’s all about composing music and modifying the decibel and frequency levels of each note for the comfortable hearing range of the animal. Using this process, we have tested music through clinical studies at veterinary hospitals, barns, etc, to see the music elicit a release of physical tensions and stress behaviors.”

For horses, stress can arise through a variety of triggers, including fireworks, thunderstorms/weather, rigorous training, competitions, travel/trailering, competitions, dehydration, limited forage, changes in daily routine, isolation, new stall neighbor and illness.

“These may seem like small changes or events, but they can create big issues for horses, potentially leading to gastric ulcers,” says Sarah Reuss, equine technical manager for Boehringer Ingelheim. “Oftentimes horse owners either don’t know how or are just unable to take the proper proactive steps to limit the impact of stress on the gastric health of the animal.”

Boehringer Ingelheim believes the music, together with the use of its ulcer prevention product, Ulcergard, which contains omeprazole, could prove a winning combination in reducing the impact of stressful periods.

The music has been posted to YouTube. Visitors can play the music track and video, as well as gain access to additional resources on stress, equine gastric ulcer syndrome, and ways to help prevent it.

The sound file can be found here.

ULCERGARD can be used in horses that weigh at least 600 lbs. Safety in pregnant mares has not been determined. Not for use in humans. Keep this and all medications out of the reach of children. In case of ingestion, contact a physician.

References:  McClure SR, Carithers DS, Gross SJ, Murray MJ. Gastric ulcer development in horses in a simulated show or training environment. J Am Vet Med Assoc 2005;227(5):775-777.

Kędzierski, W., Janczarek, I., Stachurska, A., & Wilk, I. (2017). Massage or music meant to be relaxing, result in lowering salivary cortisol concentration in race horses. Pferdeheilkunde Equine Medicine, 33(2), 146–151.

Latest research and information from the horse world.

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