Horse Breeds and Human Society: Purity, Identity and the Making of the Modern Horse, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Horse Breeds and Human Society

Purity, Identity and the Making of the Modern Horse, 1st Edition

Edited by Kristen Guest, Monica Mattfeld


304 pages | 29 B/W Illus.

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Hardback: 9780367109400
pub: 2019-11-29
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This book demonstrates how horse breeding is entwined with human societies and identities. It explores issues of lineage, purity, status through interconnections between animals and humans.

The quest for purity in horse breeding and the acceptance of what constitutes an identifiable horse breed reflect the ways in which human beings remain subject to racialized, gendered, regionalized, and classified categorizations. Since horses make for an apt species to explore these issues, their ‘breeds’ are viewed as a manifestation of human classist mindset. Focusing on various horse breeds, from the Chincoteague Pony to Brazilian Criolo and the Arabian horse, each chapter carries a leading expert’s insights into the ways in which breeding continues to prevail in the worlds of domesticated animals.

Bringing together different historical, geographical, and disciplinary perspectives, this book will appeal to academics, as well as undergraduate and postgraduate students in the fields of, human-animal studies, sociology, environmental studies, cultural studies, history and literature.

Table of Contents

Kristen Guest and Monica Mattfeld, Introduction; Part I: Before Breed: Historical Contexts for an Emerging Discourse 1. Kathryn Renton, "Defining ‘Race’ in the Spanish Horse: the breeding program of King Philip II"; 2. Donna Landry, "Habsburg Lipizzaners, English Thoroughbreds and the Paradoxes of Purity"; 3. Katrin Boniface, "Manufacturing the Horse: Understandings of Inheritance in the Long Eighteenth Century"; Part II: Breed and National/Regional Identity 4. Miriam Bibby, "‘How Northern was Pistol? The Galloway nag as self-identity and satire in an age of supra-national horse trading"; 5. Jorieke Savelkouls, "‘Horse breeding is not a state affair!’ State stallions, regulation and the Friesian horse"; 6. Miriam Adelman and Ana Camphora "Crioulos e crioulistas: Southern Brazilian equestrian culture in a changing world"; 7. Samantha Hurn, "Bois y cobs: The place of autochthonous horses in rural Welsh cultural identity"; Part III: Wild Horses and the Politics of Breed 8. Susanna Forrest "Inventing the Wild Horse: The Manmade History of the Takhi and Tarpan from 1828–2018"; 9. Karen Dalke, "Mustang, Wild Horse or Breed? Reflections of American Culture"; 10. Kristen Guest ,"Wild at Heart: The Chincoteague Pony and the Paradox of Feral ‘Breed’"; Part IV: Purity and Evolution: Breed Standards and Breed Organizations 11. Margaret Derry "The Transition from Type to Breed: Draft Horses and Purebred Breeding in the International American Market, 1870-1920"; 12. Irina Wenk, "The Ideal Horse: Politics and Practices of Knabstrupper Breeding"; 13. Christophe Lange, "The Making and Remaking of the Arabian Horse – From the Arab Bedouin Horse to the Modern Straight Egyptian™"; Index

About the Editors

Kristen Guest is a Professor of English at the University of Northern British Columbia where she teaches Victorian literature. She has edited Anna Sewell’s Black Beauty (Broadview Press) and, in collaboration with Monica Mattfeld, is co-editor of Equestrian Cultures: Horses, Human Society and the Discourse of Modernity (Chicago) and a special issue of Humanimalia focusing on breed.

Monica Mattfeld is Assistant Professor of English and History at the University of Northern British Columbia. She is author of Becoming Centaur: Eighteenth-Century Masculinity and English Horsemanship, and she is co-editor of Performing Animals: History, Agency, Theater and Equestrian Cultures: Horses, Human Society and the Discourse of Modernity. Mattfeld is currently interested in questions of breed, type and purity in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, along with questions relating to equine performance and nineteenth-century hippodrama.

About the Series

Routledge Human-Animal Studies Series

The last fifteen years or so have seen an extraordinary growth in new and original social science research into human-animal relations. The ‘animal turn’ as some have referred to it is driven by a strong sense that though essential partners in human worlds, animals have long been ignored by a predominantly humanist social science. Although there is a growing literature on human-animal studies, particularly within the humanities but increasingly including geography, sociology, anthropology, the crucial interdisciplinary cross-overs that have so animated animal studies research have not been easily served in the publication strategies of either major journals or book publishers.

The new Routledge Human-Animal Studies Series offers a much-needed forum for original, innovative and cutting edge research and analysis to explore human animal relations across the social sciences and humanities. Titles within the series are empirically and/or theoretically informed and explore a range of dynamic, captivating and highly relevant topics, drawing across the humanities and social sciences in an avowedly interdisciplinary perspective. This series will encourage new theoretical perspectives and highlight ground-breaking research that reflects the dynamism and vibrancy of current animal studies. The series is aimed at upper-level undergraduates, researchers and research students as well as academics and policy-makers across a wide range of social science and humanities disciplines.

To submit a proposal for the series please contact Faye Leerink ( and Henry Buller (

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
SCIENCE / Earth Sciences / Geography