The Relational Horse

How Frameworks of Communication, Care, Politics and Power Reveal and Conceal Equine Selves


Human-horse relationships take the central place in this edited collection examining the horse’s perspective by asking: How are human-equine relationships communicated, enacted, understood, encouraged, and restricted? The contributors apply varied disciplinary methods as they emphasize comprehending horses not solely in terms of their functional uses, but also as impactful participants in relationships, whether more—or less—equally. By exploring the “who” of horses, The Relational Horse offers a better understanding of horses’ lived experiences and interests within the worlds they share with humans, and a way forward for human-equine studies that more equitably represents the horse in those shared worlds.

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Gala Argent, Ph.D. (2011), University of Leicester, is a Lecturer in Animal Studies at Eastern Kentucky University and a trans-disciplinary independent scholar whose publications concern human-equine relationships in the past and present.

Jeannette Vaught, Ph.D. (2015), University of Texas at Austin, is a Lecturer in Liberal Studies and Women’s and Gender Studies at California State University-Los Angeles. She is a lifelong horsewoman and publishes on science, gender, and horses in the U.S.
Gala Argent Acknowledgements

List of Illustrations

Introduction: Humans and Horses in the Relational Arena
  Gala Argent and Jeannette Vaught

part 1
Relationships, Communication, and Connection
1 Synchrony or Dominance? Equine Social Relations in Feral and Domestic Horses
  Lucy Rees

2 Can You Hear Me (Yet)?—Rhetorical Horses, Trans-Species Communication, and Interpersonal Attunement
  Gala Argent

3 Reining-in the Vital Powers of Horses
  Stephen Smith

4 Ceremony and Psychoanalytic Thought A Theoretical Framework for Exploring Horse-Human Relationships and Connection
  Joseph J. Lancia

part 2
Attributions of Equine Subjectivity and Agency
5 “The Steed Knew Well His Master Was Slain” Human-Horse Relationships in the Age of Heroes—the Scandinavian Iron Age
  Kristin Armstrong Oma

6 Barn Banter An Exploration of Anthropomorphism and ‘Equine-o-morphism’ as Agency
  Dona Lee Davis, Anita Maurstad and Sarah Dean

7 “Horses are Like Babies” Work and Skill in the Care of Racehorses
  Rebecca Richart

part 3
Sex, Gender, and Exploitation
8 Mareitude Misogyny in the Horse World
  Julia Johnson

9 Is it Sex if the Veterinarian Does the Work? The Problem of Pleasure in Multispecies Sexual Labor
  Jeannette Vaught

10 Believing Ginger Revisiting Black Beauty During #MeToo
  Angela Hofstetter

part 4
Personhood, Property, and the Interspecies Family
11 Negotiating Power, Personhood & (In)equality in Elite Horse‐Rider Relationships
  Rachel Hogg

12 How Horses Matter in Eastern Mongolia Cross-Breeding, Gaited Horses and Relationships with the Land on the 21st Century Steppe
  Robin Irvine

13 Horses as Healers Shifting Paradigms and Ethics in Equine Assisted Therapies
  Arieahn Matamonasa Bennett

   Afterword Moving Human-Equine Studies Forward, with Horses
  Jeannette Vaught and Gala Argent


The Relational Horse’s introductory yet theoretically grounded approach will appeal to researchers and students of human-animal and critical animal studies, equine behavior and ethology, and practitioners across various equine professions.
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