Accepted Paper:

"You can't lead a horse, but you can drink": the spectacular movement coordination between drunk riders and sober horses in Mongolia  


Charlotte Marchina (INALCO)

Paper Short Abstract:

This paper discusses the situation of a drunk Mongolian herder riding a horse. The horse counterbalances its rider's uneven movements to bring him safely back home. Despite the very inharmonious form, this spectacular way of moving together entails coordinated movements between human and animal.

Paper long abstract:

The Mongolian art of horse riding is widely known. Until they reach adulthood, the life of young herders, especially boys, is marked by different steps linked to the horse. Galloping alone, taking part in a horse race and breaking a horse are all major stages in the learning of horsemanship. A young man is considered as an accomplished herder when he takes part in the herder games "aduuchin" (literally, "horse herder"), where humans and horses can be partners (games testing speed and agility) or opponents (capture, rodeo). When rider and mount are partners, both learn to coordinate their movements, while when they are opponents, e.g. during rodeo, it is mainly the rider who adapts to the horse's movements, which tries to get rid of him.

There is however another situation in which it is the horse that adapts more to its partner's movements, which is when the rider is drunk. Very often the drunk rider gets home thanks to his horse, which not only knows the way, but also redoubles efforts to prevent the rider from falling. It does so by counterbalancing the rider's uneven movements when walking, or even galloping, which makes both move together in a very uncommon way. This paper, illustrated with a series of pictures, will discuss this spectacular way of moving together which entails, despite the very inharmonious form, very coordinated movements between human and animal.

Panel MB-AMS10
Dancing goose: moving with and moving like animals