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Equine gatekeepers, animal narratives and foxhunting landscapes

By A. Acton

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Firstly, this paper analyzes the dynamic between horse, rider, and landscape in foxhunting culture. Secondly, it considers nonhuman animals as active elements within the research process. The methodology principally involved extensive, in-depth participation as a rider within mounted foxhound packs, as I originally participated as a rider/ethnographer in order to understand the nexus between foxhunting culture and the landscape. However, the equine focus in my research emerged unexpectedly as my fieldwork drew me into a collaboration with an unanticipated character in this network; the "made hunter," a horse seasoned for hunting. These animals acted as my equine gatekeepers literally incorporating me into this hunting world. I relied on and respected their experience and capabilities as novice and experienced foxhunters have done for centuries. This paper presents an analysis of the quadripartite synthesis of foxhunting culture, rider, horse, and landscape and involves a corporeal and sensory exploration of the human/nonhuman inter-Hunt dynamic that defines foxhunting. Hunting cultures rely upon the capabilities of animals and have developed an ability to translate animal narratives and semiotics. Thus, they provide us with a platform for developing the multi-species perspective in social science. This paper calls for an ethnographic approach which draws upon these epistemic systems and incorporates the superhuman abilities of animals into our understanding of our relationship with space. Animals, I argue, offer more than potential subjects to study. By incorporating their knowledge, experiences, and perspectives, and by translating their engagements with the world, we have the potential to augment our perception of our shared environment.

Publication Title Anthrozoos
Volume 27
Issue 1
Pages 81-94
ISBN/ISSN 0892-7936
DOI 10.2752/175303714x13837396326459
Language English
Author Address
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Analysis
  2. Animals
  3. Anthrozoology
  4. Culture
  5. Game animals
  6. Horses
  7. Hunting
  8. Mammals
  9. Methodologies
  10. peer-reviewed
  11. sociability
  12. synthesis
  13. Techniques
  14. ungulates
  15. vertebrates
  1. peer-reviewed