Accepted Paper:

has pdf download 'What does horse know': an anthropological study on the human-animal relationship in therapeutic riding  
Luna Pavao (Federal University of São Carlos (UFSCar- Brazil))

Paper short abstract:

From an anthropological perspective, this research aims to understand the human-animal relationship within 'therapeutic riding sessions', a health treatment developed for people with special needs (physical and/or mental disorders) by the presence of horses.

Paper long abstract:

Different degrees of humanity and animality are being displayed by actors in the riding therapy sessions observed in an Equine Center (São Carlos, São Paulo-Brazil). Riders, therapists, auxiliaries-guide and parents of the riders are entangled in different ways with horses, where fleshly intimacies tie humans and nonhumans in embodied experiences. A chain of desired actions among beings points to the shaping of their subjectivities, within a process of constitution of human and nonhuman selves in this therapeutic set.

Riders are mostly people with physical and/or mental disorder, placing a certain otherness in themselves towards the more vast community of humans, being part (or apart) of it as 'special humans'. For therapists, the benefit of this treatment is an improvement on the corporeal stability, balance, quietness, and "centeredness" of riders. Auxiliaries guide the movement of the horse by holding the strap. Horses, by their part, having a person sitting or lying in their back, have to follow the pace and speed given by auxiliaries. According to therapists and parents, the horses' sizes offer a new perspective to riders, whom are able, during the riding, to give away their wheelchair.

How can such a plurality of subjectivities get attached in this shared activity? What happen when a horse improve 'social skills' to 'special humans', in terms of continuities and discontinuities among humans and nonhumans? These questions could point to the way human-animal bond and the very conditions of humanity are both addressed in the Equine Center.

Panel P093
The meaning of horses: perspectives on intra-species communicative becoming