Accepted paper:

Learning through love: the role of senses in understanding relationships between people and ponies in Shetland


Catherine Munro (University of Aberdeen )

Paper short abstract:

In this paper I explore the role of sensory experiences in understanding the relationships between people and ponies in Shetland, with a particular focus on my changing fieldwork experience after I adopted a Shetland pony mare and foal.

Paper long abstract:

During my fieldwork on relationships between people and ponies in Shetland, participants often described the importance of getting to know their ponies by spending time with them. By watching and listening to them, they make decisions about what type of Shetland pony each is and what role that pony is suited for. A large part of my fieldwork has been spent trying to understand more about these sensory encounters where people and ponies learn from each other and exploring how these experiences are part of emerging identities among breeders and ponies. While on fieldwork I got a Shetland pony mare and foal on loan and had the task of training the foal. This experience of getting to know the foal, learning her moods, guiding and responding to her movement and growing to love her has been hugely influential to my fieldwork. In this paper I will explore the ways my experiences with the foal shaped my attention towards embodied, sensory ways of learning, helping me better understand the relationships between people and ponies. Throughout fieldwork many of my engagements with ponies have been filmed and I will examine the ways this has shaped my understandings of these interactions and raised questions about the most effective formats to represent sensory experiences. For the duration of the presentation I will play a silent ethnographic film showing my experiences of getting to know the foal.

panel P08
Sensational knowledge: emotional and sensory encounters as ways of knowing