(Un)Stable Relations: Horses, Humans and Social Agency: 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

(Un)Stable Relations: Horses, Humans and Social Agency

1st Edition

By Lynda Birke, Kirrilly Thompson


166 pages | 4 B/W Illus.

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Hardback: 9781138939356
pub: 2017-12-14
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pub: 2017-12-12
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This original and insightful book explores how horses can be considered as social actors within shared interspecies networks. It examines what we know about how horses understand us and how we perceive them, as well as the implications of actively recognising other animals as actors within shared social lives. This book explores how interspecies relationships work, using a variety of examples to demonstrate how horses and people build social lives. Considering horses as social actors presents new possibilities for improving the quality of animal lives, the human condition and human-horse relations.

Table of Contents




Part One: Introducing Horse-Human Relationships

Chapter One: Equine co-travellers

Chapter Two: Animals as social actors: Relations, action and agency

Part Two: Thinking Horses: How Humans Set the Context

Chapter Three: Natural Horses

Chapter Four: Symbolic Horses

Chapter Five: Equestrian Cultures

Part Three: Meeting Horses: Moving Together

Chapter Six: Choreographies

Chapter Seven: Moving with Motive

Part Four: Acting on Equine Agency

Chapter Eight: Agency Matters

Chapter Nine: Agency, Action and Horses: Unstable Relations


About the Authors

Lynda Birke is Visiting Professor in Biological Sciences at the University of Chester, UK. From a background in natural sciences (specialising in ethology), she later focused more on interdisciplinary research in feminist studies and human-animal studies. But more importantly, horses have shaped her life, and it was inevitable that she would eventually figure out a way to do research that included them. Lynda has been involved with equines all her life, from Pony Club, through show jumping and three-day eventing, as well as carriage driving. Her current jumping partners are two feisty mares, Dalusha and Doretha, and she lives with three equally feisty dogs - and her partner - in rural Shropshire.

Kirrilly Thompson is an Associate Professor at Central Queensland University’s Appleton Institute in Adelaide. She is a galloping cultural anthropologist interested in formalising Equestrian Social Science. Her research spans the risk perceptions and behaviours of equestrians, including the potential of human attachments to horses to promote safety and wellbeing. Kirrilly has been training, teaching and competing in pony club, showing and dressage since she was a teenager. She is the human of Angel dog, Chelsea horse, Lavazza horse and Mouse horse.

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 (faye.leerink@tandf.co.uk) and Henry Buller (H.Buller@exeter.ac.uk)

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
SPORTS & RECREATION / Sociology of Sports