DSpace Repository

The Sensuous Worlds Of Domesticated Beings: Embodied Communication In Human-horse Relationships

The Sensuous Worlds Of Domesticated Beings: Embodied Communication In Human-horse Relationships

Show full item record

Title: The Sensuous Worlds Of Domesticated Beings: Embodied Communication In Human-horse Relationships
Author: Tucker, Lesley
Identifier: MESMP03224
Abstract: When mapping the history of our relationships with horses, it is the dramatic transformation of human civilization made possible by them which, generally dominates the narrative - the changes in the ways humans travelled, farmed, and fought each other. Less likely to be noted are the changes experienced by the horses themselves, to their bodies, environments, and social worlds. And while often romanticized, this history, particularly the history of training relationships, was frequently harsh and sometimes brutal, with methods dependent on the use of force and fear. Some of the traditional horsemanship approaches to training practiced today, have carried forward these methods to greater or lesser degrees. And in answer to their experiences with such methods and the attitudes behind them, natural horsemanship (NH) practitioners (sometimes referred to as horse whisperers) based their own approaches to training on nonviolence, and communication - namely the use of nonverbal communication between humans and horses. Embodied forms of nonverbal communication, require a sensitivity to nonverbal cues however, and the idea that humans have lost some of our sensory acuity exists both inside NH communities, and outside, where it is sometimes viewed as the result of our own domestication. Within NH communities, our relationships with horses are often presented as a way to reclaim some of our sensory acuity, as we become sensitized to their nonverbal cues. Once again, however, the experiences of horses can be overlooked - the idea that they too have lost some of their sensory acuity through their domestication, and that they continue to lose it through their environments and training relationships, is far less likely to be considered, if at all. In this paper, I explore what it means to be domesticated, including the effects of the process of domestication for both humans and other animals, most notably, losses in sensory acuity. I look at how our relationships with horses began and how they have evolved over time, tracking the history of our training relationships and the onset of the natural horsemanship movement - emphasizing relationships based on nonviolence and nonverbal communication. I look at the potential for communication between humans and horses given our different sensory and social worlds, and the contexts of our relationships, as well as the limiting factors. I consider these in relation to the effects of confinement, social disruption, feeding practices and training methods for horses. I conclude with a re-imagining human-horse relationships moving forward, both of our training relationships and horse management practices, with an emphasis on keeping the emotional, social and sensory worlds of horses central to every practice, and each encounter.
Type: Major paper
Rights: Author owns copyright, except where explicitly noted. Please contact the author directly with licensing requests.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10315/34831
Citation: Major Paper, Master of Environmental Studies, Faculty of Environmental Studies, York University
Date: 2017

Files in this item



This item appears in the following Collection(s)