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Theorising rider-horse relations : an ethnographic illustration of the centaur metaphor in the Spanish bullfight
chapterposted on 06.12.2017, 00:00 by Kirrilly Thompson
Only a few animals are regularly ridden by humans. Despite the rarity of the riding relationship, the fact that humans ride horses remains arguably the most taken for granted aspect of the human-horse relationship. The riding relationship presents a valuable area of research into the embodied dimensions of human-animal communication because it requires and encourages the harmonisation of human and animal bodies in space and time. The archetypal metaphor for the achievement of harmony between horse and rider is the mythical centaur with the upper body of a human and the lower body of a horse. In this paper, I demonstrate the ways in which the centaur metaphor conveys the transformative and generative nature of the rider-horse relationship. In so doing, I suggest that there is an inherent centaurability in the rider-horse relationship.