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Riders’ Perceptions of Equestrian Communication in Sports Dressage

In: Society & Animals
Authors:
Mari Zetterqvist Blokhuis Department of Culture and Education, Södertörn University Sweden

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Charlotte Lundgren Department of Culture and Communication, Linköping University Sweden

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Abstract

The aim of this study is to enhance the understanding of how sport dressage riders describe rider-horse communication when riding, and to relate these descriptions to current research on human-horse communication. Interviews with 15 amateur dressage riders were analyzed using a qualitative approach. The study shows that the interviewed riders describe the communication with the horses partly in a behavioristic way, applying concepts based on learning theory, which deviate from the description of riders as lacking understanding of these concepts put forth by some researchers. The riders connect the timing of their aids to equestrian feel, which they describe as the most difficult yet the most awarding aspect of the interspecies communication that riding is. Simultaneously, they acknowledge that horses are fully capable of choosing to listen to and cooperate with their requests.

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