HN Team Poll: The Power of Music

Do our musical choices affect our ride? Boyd Martin, Will Coleman and the HN team weigh in.


New research shows that music reinforces our attitude, for better or for worse. Recently published in The Journal of Positive Psychology, scientists found people can successfully improve their moods and boost their overall happiness in just two weeks via musical choices. Another recent study published in the Journal of Consumer Research found that people who are going through break-ups or having relationship problems prefer music that reflects their negative mood. But how does it work?

When we listen to a rhythm, our hearts actually synch with it. A slow heartbeat often tells our brain that something sad or emotionally neutral is happening, while faster beats correlate with excitement. Tones are equally important as rhythm. A “major key” music piece signifies cheerful communication to our brain, while “minor key” pieces closely mirror a mournful sigh.

All of this got me thinking about the types of music I play at the barn. Am I helping or hindering my ride? To gain more perspective, I asked several professional riders and the Horse Nation team about their preferences. The results seem to reflect not only attitude in the saddle, but the discipline being performed. Eventers headed for the start box prefer rock ‘n’ roll, while pleasure riders appreciate more peaceful tunes.

Amanda Uechi Ronan (polo)

With eventing I listened to punk rock: think Black Keys, Imagine Dragons and Cage the Elephant. Whatever it says about the two disciplines — or my state of mind when doing them — I have switched to hip hop with polo. Either way, I like my riding music energizing with happy lyrics and a strong beat. My banned list definitely includes Adele, because she always sounds like she’s horribly sad.

Favorite get-this-chukker-started songs:
Flo Rida: “My House”
Macklemore & Ryan Lewis: “Downtown”

Colleen Peachey (recreational dressage/eventing)

I ALWAYS listen to music when I’m grooming, tacking up and usually when I’m riding!

Favorite jams:
Jason Aldean: “She’s Country”
Randy Houser: “We Went”
Florida Georgia Line: “Get Your Shine On”
Dierks Bentley: “I Hold On”

Leslie Threlkeld (eventing)

I’ve been working my way through the Outlander series. If I listen to a book or podcast while doing flat work or trot sets, I am oddly more aware of myself in terms of position and communication with the horse. I take more care in a slow warm up, get less frustrated if something is wrong and seem to have an overall better ride. I think the fact that my mind isn’t wandering to all the million things I need to do or stresses I may have allows me to be more relaxed and focused on the ride.

Kristen Kovatch (recreational)

As I am a purely recreational rider about 95% of the time, my driving-to-the-barn-for-a-long-trail-ride music is reeeeal folksy. 100% BANNED in the draft barn at the county fair where we show — “Something Bad” by Miranda Lambert and Carrie Underwood. If the hook “I got a real bad feelin’ somethin’ bad about to happen” isn’t obvious enough, there’s been a major wreck literally every time we’ve heard this song play on the radio in the barn.

Top 3 pre-trail-ride-in-the-summer tunes:
Lord Huron: “Ends of the Earth”
The National Parks: “As We Ran”
Radical Face: “Welcome Home”

Sally Spickard (eventing)

Anything electronic!

Favorite Jam: Morgan Page: “No Ordinary Life”

Candace Wade (recreational)

Tina Turner turns off my “doubt toads,” tunes down my chatty brain and my ride and I feel the rhythm together.

#1 Tina song: “Don’t Rush the Good Things”

Lindsey Kahn (eventing)

“Party Hard” by Andrew W.K. I love the aggressive guitars and drums with the upbeat major chords. Andrew W.K. is generally known for his positive “party metal” music (in addition to headbanging and getting really sweaty on stage, he has become well-known as a motivational speaker and has hosted some pretty goofy TV shows for all ages). This early-2000s anthem helps get me pumped up and ready to jump.

What music do you listen to at the barn? Does it affect your ride? Give us a shout in the comments!

Go Riding.

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