25 Songs About Horses Ranked By How Much I Think You Should Play Them For Your Horse

Horse owners want to share the joy of human music with their equine pals—and more often than not, these two goals conflict quite disastrously.

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25 Songs About Horses Ranked By How Much I Think You Should Play Them For Your Horse

Horses are difficult animals. Their teeth are big and they often smell bad. They’re prone to depressive episodes and struggle with self-destructive tendencies, typically hurting everyone around them in the process (as the Netflix documentary series BoJack Horseman made all too apparent). But every horse owner wants one thing, and it’s a love reciprocated by said horse(s). However, they also want another thing, and that’s to share the joy of human music with their equine pals—and more often than not, these two goals conflict quite disastrously. It’s a problem that has plagued human-horse relationships since the dawn of time, but no longer. After decades of intensive research and consultation with experts, Paste has landed upon a definitive ranking for horse-related songs that will help you, horse owner, determine what you absolutely should—and absolutely should not—project from the barn’s loudspeakers.

The sole requirement for the songs on this list is that they have to mention a horse of some kind in the title. I took a few factors into consideration while making this ranking: whether the horse would actually like the song (the sound, the instrumentation, etc); how they’d feel about the lyrics; what their external reaction would be and how it would affect you, their (hopefully) benevolent owner. For transparency’s sake, I must admit that I have never owned a horse, nor have I spent particularly extensive time around horses, nor do I even like them that much. But fret not: That is precisely why I am the right person to make this list. I am able to be wholly objective in my rankings in a way that even the best horse owners could not.

25. 100 gecs: “stupid horse”

Absolutely not. Just look at the title of the song! Horses will absolutely internalize the message Dylan Brady and Laura Les take such pains to impart: horses are stupid and also suck. Harmful lines like “Bet my money on a stupid horse, I lost that” and “Stupid horse, I just fell out of the Porsche”—compounded with the high-pitch, rapid hyperpop sound of the track—would surely induce an anxiety attack, if not a seizure, in even the strongest of horses.

24. SOPHIE: “Ponyboy”

There are literally only two situations in which I would ever greenlight this song: You are the owner of a horses-only BDSM club and in need of an EEDM (Equine Electronic Dance Music) banger that will mark your horses down as scared and horny, or you are a terrible person who is torturing an equine war prisoner and looking for a song to play on loop to psychologically break them (in which case, I recommend projecting the lyric video onto every wall, and I also recommend letting your horses kill you slowly because you deserve it). If neither of those cases pertain to your relationship with horses, trust me when I say you need to avoid letting horses hear this song at all costs.

23. WHY?: “A Sky for Shoeing Horses Under”

Only a masochist would enjoy getting some weird metal thing forcibly hammered onto the sole of their foot, and I don’t think most horses have enough self-awareness to know what masochism is—let alone experience it—so I find it highly unlikely a horse would enjoy being shoed. As such, any horse hearing this song (which informs listeners it’s a good sky to not only shoe horses under, but to die under) would find it terrifying and fear it may be intended as a veiled threat. It’s like a pig owner singing their own hogs a lullaby about how nice a night it is to brand pigs. Don’t shoe your horses or brand your pigs or comment about how the sky is so perfect for death. Don’t play this song.

22. Big & Rich: “Save a Horse (Ride a Cowboy)”

Big & Rich’s cry for people to “save a horse” by instead “rid[ing] a cowboy” is strikingly radical for a human: These equine allies declare that the time for enslaving horses for our own selfish use is over, and that if we’re so desperate to ride on top of something, it’s only right to saddle up those who have harmed horses the most and give them, at long last, a taste of their own medicine. But this ostensibly revolutionary anthem has had its flaws glazed over by years of equine praise—the very chorus betrays the song’s anarchist calling card with the oft-forgotten lines “And I saddle up my horse / And I ride into the city… Riding up and down Broadway / On my old stud Leroy.” The cruel hypocrisy of this betrayal must be recognized (the absolute gall of both Big and Rich to claim to care about saving horses whilst sitting pretty atop poor Leroy!), so when your horses want to listen to this song, sit them down instead and turn it into a learning moment on the perils of performative allyship.

21. The Rolling Stones: “Wild Horses”

I’ll be blunt: To a horse, this song is insulting, riddled with falsehoods and egotistical delusions. The ridiculous refrain of “wild horses couldn’t drag me away” is a bold assertion for any human to make, as it insinuates that the strength of not only one wild horse, but wild horses plural, would somehow be so weak as to utterly fail at moving even a single human. And maybe we could chalk this up to a simple gaffe on the Rolling Stones’ part; perhaps Mick Jagger simply underestimated a horse’s horsepower and was not aware that horses are strong enough to bear a human’s weight—if it were not for the damning admission “wild horses, we’ll ride them someday.” This proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that Jagger knows his mass would not cause a horse to even buckle. Yet good ole Mick (who, it’s worth noting, looks like a light breeze could drag him away) is still snide enough to brag about saddling up, not even five seconds after taunting the entire equine species with his spurious claim that no amount of horses, not even all of them put together, could carry him somewhere he didn’t want to go. Do not play this song unless you are intentionally trying to provoke your horses until they’re champing at the bit to prove just how superior their strength is to Mick Jagger’s.

20. Kacey Musgraves: “High Horse”

This song rankles many horses, and for good reason. Kacey Musgraves seems awfully mad at this “high horse,” considering the horse in question doesn’t seem to have done anything wrong. Sure, she’s mad at the guy who thinks he’s John Wayne, but why’s she gotta take it out on his horse too? What’d the horse do to her? Get high? Well, I’ll have her know that weed has been legalized in many states at this point, and I don’t appreciate her tendency to judge a horse so strongly just because it wants to take the edge off every once in a while.

19. America: “A Horse With No Name”

Having a name is nice; it reminds me I exist. Horses probably feel the same. This song, however, is about a horse without a name, which is a devastating possibility most horses likely would not have considered. While it’s true that hearing this would broaden your horse’s awareness of the world outside your barn and put their own suffering into perspective, the ensuing air of existential grief would make it difficult for your horse to care about the menial labor you require of them. They will only want to sit and mourn the unnamed horse lost to time, which would make for a very unproductive day at the barn.

18. The Microphones: “Headless Horseman”

This is a sad song for man and horse alike, and while a joint listening session would likely increase the emotional vulnerability between you and your stallions, there are some downsides. It might feel embarrassing to be visibly sad in front of your horses. Additionally, for horses, the phrase “headless horseman” lacks the cultural connotation of Sleepy Hollow that we humans associate it with. This will be a new term for them, one that will conjure an image of a terrifying and grotesque mutation of the equine form: a half-horse, half-man cut off at the mane. They will not enjoy it. In sum: You will be sad listening, but your horses will be both sad and scared, and none of that makes for a productive horse-human relationship.

17. Jordaan Mason and the Horse Museum: “Racehorse: Get Married!”

Most horses probably would not like this song, as they are known to trend towards conformity. However, if you have a bit of a weird looking horse—quirky and with eyes that bug out a bit too much—they might just find it eerily moving. But, before you run to the barn with a loudspeaker, a word of caution: The final refrain of the song is the phrase “I’m letting all you horses go,” which has the potential to evoke a variety of emotions in your horses. Some would likely feel awful at the thought of being “let go,” others would appreciate it as an acknowledgement of their autonomy—but there is also the possibility that a radical or two may take the song up as a battle cry and destroy your farm to gain their independence. Be careful playing this song for your equine anarchists; if you play it and then don’t, in fact, let the horses go, your animal farm might just turn into Animal Farm, and we all know how well that went for the humans involved.

16. Toby Keith: “Beer For My Horses”

This song is rather difficult to rank, because whether or not I would recommend playing it really depends on two key factors: Whether or not your horses are of legal drinking age and whether or not you give a shit. Now, I don’t want to get Paste in trouble for recommending that you break the law and let your ponies have some of that sweet, sweet booze, so I am obligated to remind you all that no one is allowed to drink under the United States Constitution unless they are at least 21 years of age—the National Minimum Drinking Age Act of 1984 prohibits “persons under 21” from “possessing alcoholic beverages,” and while many would not include horses underneath the umbrella of “persons,” it is becoming more and more common within academia to insist otherwise. So, to be safe—and to be legal—I will go on the record as not recommending this song. However, if your horses are legal—or if you don’t care (which I, again, must condemn, at least so long as I am writing this in an official capacity)—I see no issue. Do not, however, play this song if you do not intend on giving your horses beer. That would just be mean.

15. Alex G: “Horse”

This is another hard song to rank, but because I’d imagine different horses would have vastly different reactions to it. Easily overstimulated ponies who fear loud noises and confusing environments should never come into contact with this song; it wouldn’t take five seconds before they’d trample out of their pens in their terrified bid to leave the barn. However, if you have a chaos-craving stallion bored with the farm’s monotony—basically, a horse you think could benefit from an acid trip or two—put this record on and sit back as all their synapses start firing.

14. Bob Dylan: “All the Tired Horses”

This song functions similarly to “Racehorse: Get Married!” but has a more mainstream, pleasant sound—and, as such, would likely have a broader equine appeal. It’s a great song to show you empathize with your horses and appreciate their hard work throughout the day, and if you feel confident in the bond between you and your horses, chances are they will resonate with this song very much and feel warmly towards you for playing it. However, if you are an overly demanding owner who works horses to the bone night and day, putting this track on would only stoke your horses’ ire and feel like a cruel, sardonic taunt filled with blatantly empty platitudes.

13. PJ Harvey: “Horses in My Dreams”

Lyrically, this seems like it’d be a pretty great song for horses: “Horses in my dreams / Like waves, like the sea / They pull out of here / They pull, they are free.” What an upbeat, hopeful narrative for horses, right? But that just goes to show you how much a song’s sound can change its meaning. Above sparse yet dark instrumentation, Polly Jean groans around the words as if they take physical effort to pull them from her lungs—stretching each syllable until it sits heavy like tar. Those innocent ideals of equine liberty are twisted into this ominous feeling of haunted helplessness. Frankly, I think if you played this to your horses, they’d just grow concerned for your mental health.

12. DaBaby: “Pony”

Here’s the thing: Horses do not understand human slang. As such, listening to this song as a horse would be like overhearing people talking in another language who, for some reason, keep saying your name. You have no idea what they’re saying, because everything but your name is as good as gibberish to you, but you know they’re talking about you. So even assuming your horses speak English, “Pony” would be incomprehensible to them—but the fact that DaBaby keeps saying “pony” will certainly grab their attention, all the more so because they have no idea what he’s saying about their species. This, of course, puts you in the difficult position of explaining it to them. So if painstakingly spelling out the meaning of lines like “Gave the plug to my brother in the trap, still rolling / All my hoes freaks, yeah she ride D / Yeah, like a goddamn pony” is your idea of a good time, go for it. To me, it just seems like more trouble than it’s worth.

11. Taylor Swift: “White Horse”

I’m sorry Swifties, but playing this will mean nothing to your horse(s). Slow and bland, with little to appeal to excitable equines, it is the white noise of horse songs. Even the lyrics will feel absolutely devoid of purpose. Swift sings about how she’s not a princess, how she’s not in Hollywood—and perhaps that is news for her, but that’s all old hat for horses. Of course they’re not princesses; they’re horses. Of course they’re not in Hollywood; they’re in your barn. Your horses will not understand why this song was even written, as all it does is state obvious facts in an uninteresting way. Play it if you want, but I don’t think they’ll care.

10. Mitski: “A Horse Named Cold Air”

If you’re looking for a nice, horse-related lullaby to lull your horses to sleep, I think Mitski’s track would do nicely. It feels like a weighted blanket—slow, heavy, languid. I’d be careful to wait until you feel certain your horses are right on the brink of nodding off, though, as horses closer to consciousness might pay more attention to Mitski’s lyricism, which would be so puzzling to them that they’d be too distracted to dream. Your horses would be both utterly enraptured and thoroughly baffled by the notion that their hearts are lakes with no fish, and as such would be likely to spend much of the night attempting to feel for a pond somewhere in their ribs. But as long as you nail the timing, this song is a go.

9. Milo: “Deposition Regarding the Green Horse for Rap”

Do horses like art rap with jazz influences? I don’t know, but by playing this song for your horses, you just might find out. Your more intellectual horses would certainly enjoy this track—as it wouldn’t be a Milo song without a lot of pretentious name-drops—and your smarter stallions will feel really cool for getting all those references. But if your horses err on the side of insecurity, they might be disheartened by all the things they don’t know, which would only be compounded by the song’s refrain of “You’re wack and it’s all your fault.” Frankly, though, if that’s enough to send them spiraling, you should be looking at a list of equine therapists, not songs.

8. Katy Perry: “Dark Horse”

Look, everyone needs a good bad-bitch, hype-up song—and horses are no exception. If I were a horse, this is exactly what I’d listen to while getting ready for a night out on the… well, field, I guess. However, it wouldn’t be right to suggest this song without questioning Katy’s odd insistence on the modifier of “dark,” because why does it matter what the lighting is when she (as a horse) comes at someone? Trust me: horses are more than capable of coming at anyone, be it nighttime or daytime. Forgetting this is dangerous. Play this song for your horses, but do not let Ms. Perry lull you into a false sense of security around your horses when the sun is out; believe you me, if they want to come at you, they will, regardless of the time of day.

7. Chappell Roan: “Pink Pony Club”

I’d recommend this song for the same reasons I’d caution against it: It is a wonderful anthem of yearning for a mythical pink pony club, where all horses can dance and be themselves. Such a club would be any horse’s fantasy, but that’s what makes this song such a double-edged sword. While it’s a perfect song for horses to daydream to, they might find themselves doubly sad upon returning to their frustrating, brown-hued reality of barnyard living. Your horses will undoubtedly like this song, but after hearing it, they may like your farm a little less—and that’s something you’ll have to contend with.

6. Q Lazzarus: “Goodbye Horses”

Generally speaking, this is a fine enough song for horses. It would be middle of the pack, if not for how eerily perfect it is for one very specific situation: In the event that you plan on leaving your horses for a period of time to travel somewhere else by plane, this song immediately rockets to the very top of this list. The verses and chorus detail a disagreement between the speaker and a man, wherein the speaker keeps trying to convince the man that things don’t always end, that people don’t always leave, that not “all things pass into the night.” This is exactly the message you must impart to your horses before you head to the airport. Naturally, your absence will make them sad and afraid that you do not plan on returning, but you, like the speaker of this song, can reassure them otherwise. Once this argument subsides, the line “Goodbye horses, I’m flying over you” repeats, and, I mean, come on! That one is just self-explanatory. To be honest, I am not entirely convinced that Diane Luckey didn’t write this song as a means of informing her horses of her upcoming round-trip plane ride; it’s just too perfect. I wouldn’t put this in every horse playlist, necessarily, but letting it echo through the barn speakers as you pack your bags will set all your horses at ease and ready them for your departure, all the while mollifying any potential equine fears of abandonment.

5. Adrianne Lenker: “blue and red horses”

This is a very pretty song that I can picture listening to while trotting atop a horse. It’s simple, with simple rhythm and simple words and a lot of easy repetition, so your horses will get comfortable with it quickly. It’s not a jaunty song, per se, but it has some jaunt to it—and I think that’s nice. This song is especially great for those of you with either blue or red horses, as representation is important in the media and equine representation is no different. They’ll be so happy to hear about horses like them that they’ll be practically prancing!

4. Patti Smith: “Land: Horses/ Land of a Thousand Dances / La Mer (De)”

If you had a jukebox and if horses had opposable thumbs, this is absolutely the song they’d slide a coin in and play. This song puts into words what horses must feel when around their kin, with Smith expertly chanting “Surrounded by horses! Horses! Horses! Horses! Coming in all directions!” She delves wonderfully into equine culture as well, asking the listener if they know how to “pony like Bony Maroney,” which I can only assume is the horse equivalent of asking a human if they can move like Jagger. And you know what? I’d take this banger over Maroon 5’s track any day of the week, and I’m a human. So just imagine, then, how exciting this song must be for horses! However, it is a long song, and it stops being as much about horses after a while, so perhaps skip ahead after the horse part—but it’s a damn great horse part.

3. Dexys Midnight Runners: “The Horse”

This is a great song to get your horses excited and pumped up! The horns and melody are all very enthusiastic and fun, and there are even horn noises that sound like neighing! It’s like a big horse parade. Your horses will feel right at home, if home were a horse-only dance hall specializing in group tap numbers, or something. I would not recommend playing it to help your horses fall asleep, but I do think it’s a great song to wake them up and get them all energetic and ready for a big day of horse things, like riding and stuff.

2. Silver Jews: “Sometimes a Pony Gets Depressed”

Everyone needs to feel represented once in a while, and the recent introduction of neurodivergent narratives into mainstream media is something many cite as incredibly important to them. Unfortunately, though, even the most well-intentioned depictions often remain frustratingly anthropocentric—but with this song, David Berman begins to rectify that. In playing this track to your horses, you show them that you understand their day-to-day struggles that are too often overlooked, from the existential questions that permeate even the most mundane equine experiences (“Where does an animal sleep when the ground is wet?” “How does an animal see once the sun is set?”) to the tiniest of equestrian woes (“Grass in the pasture / Is sharper than a bayonet”). While this in and of itself opens a crucial line of communication, Berman decides to take it even further in a characteristic stroke of lyrical brilliance—he states, bluntly and factually, that sometimes, a pony gets depressed. Don’t underestimate how much this simple validation will mean to any struggling horse. Whether you’re creating playlists for your oldest stallions or your youngest foals, this song is exactly what you need to facilitate a dialogue about the importance of mental health—to begin to build that necessary foundation of trust.

1. Bruce Springsteen: “Pony Boy”

I’ll cut to the chase: There is no anthropocentric explanation for this song. It is, literally, just a song for a horse. No metaphors, no analogies; just Bruce’s affections for his horse all the way down. And yeah, I know he “claims,” apparently, that it’s an old family lullaby, and yeah, I know it’s a modified version of an older song, but why did he write, record and produce this song if not for horse ears—and why did he cut out all the lyrics about the human relationship at its center only to replace it with more lines just about riding his horse? My theory is that Bruce Springsteen predicted this very list back in 1992 and, in a move that baffled most fans at the time, made “Pony Boy” the closer to Human Touch—his first album in almost five years—all because he wanted to claim the #1 Horse Song on this list nearly 30 years later. And you know what? I think I just have to give it to him.

Check out a playlist of these 25 songs below.

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