Meeting points: choreographies of horses and humans

TRACE ∴ FINNISH JOURNAL FOR HUMAN-ANIMAL STUDIES VOL 3. (2017)

LYNDA BIRKE
University of Chester (UK)

We live our lives in spatial relationships with many other animals. I live in an old farm- house in rural England, along with two dogs. Outside dwell several horses, and a group of chickens. The house also means home to a colony of long-eared bats, a multitude of invertebrates, various swallows, martins, barn owls, sparrows, wrens and blue tits – and no doubt more rats and mice than I care to think about. Human-animal relationships are thus lived through sharing (or not) of spaces; we cohabit within buildings, within cities, within parks and woods. Some of those relationships are just that: cohabitation, requir- ing little direct interaction, although shaped and made possible by the spaces and build- ings we have constructed. Others, like my relationships with the dogs and horses, seem to be more mutual, a shared choreography within those spaces. Thus, when a new dog arrived in the farmhouse from the rescue kennels, it took only a couple of days for dog and person to learn where the other was and to orient around each other – where are you? If I move here…? Expectancies develop such that each understands how the other moves, where they will be.

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