Listening to Horses

Developing Attentive Interspecies Relationships through Sport and Leisure

In: Society & Animals
Katherine Dashper Leeds Beckett University Leeds, West Yorkshire United Kingdom

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The involvement of nonhuman animals in human sport and leisure raises questions about the ethics of animal use (and sometimes abuse) for human pleasure. This article draws on a multispecies ethnography of amateur riding in the United Kingdom to consider some ways in which human participants try to develop attentive relationships with their equine partners. An ethical praxis of paying attention to horses as individual, sentient beings with intrinsic value beyond their relation to human activities can lead to the development of mutually rewarding interspecies relationships and partnerships within sport. However, these relationships always develop within the context of human-centric power relations that position animals as vulnerable subjects, placing moral responsibility on humans to safeguard animal interests in human sport and leisure.

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