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Man and Horse in Harmony

  • Elisabeth LeGuin
Part of the Early Modern Cultural Studies book series (EMCSS)

Abstract

It is only within the last century—very suddenly and very recently, given their long career—that horses are no longer intrinsic to the basic operations of Western society; few of us any longer rely on them for anything we consider indispensable. Horsemanship is still tightly woven into our speaking and our thinking, however, in countless figures that make up a kind of thoroughgoing metaphorical fabric. We speak of being back (or tall) in the saddle, being spurred to do something, reining in someone or something. We transpose equine experience into human terms with concepts such as “keeping pace,” “hitting one’s stride,” “getting off on the wrong foot,” “kicking up one’s heels,” “feeling one’s oats.” Such metaphors are used regularly by people who have never come near a horse to address matters of intention, control, and enactment, and they show remarkably few signs of being supplanted by automotive imagery. Given the readiness with which language adapts to social and technological change, it seems unlikely that the persistence of horsemanship metaphors in modern English is merely an odd pocket of resistance. I would instead suggest that it has to do with the intricate and as yet irreplaceable ways in which horses have represented human embodiment in Western culture.

Keywords

Physical Discipline Private Level Animal Training Human Embodiment Primary Impulse 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Notes

  1. 1.
    Xenophon, The Art of Horsemanship (360 B.C.E.), trans. and with notes by M. H. Morgan (London: J. A. Allen, 1962), 62.Google Scholar
  2. 5.
    Michel Foucault, Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison (1975), trans. Alan Sheridan (New York: Vintage Books, 1995), 137.Google Scholar
  3. 6.
    Jacques de Solleysel, Parfait mareschal … translated from the last Paris impression, by Sir William Hope … By whom is also added as a supplement to the first part, a most compendious and excellent collection of horsemanship … (Edinburgh: George Mosman, 1696), “Some curious remarks upon Horses represented …” (n.p.).Google Scholar
  4. 9.
    Cesare Fiaschi, Trattato dell’imbrigliare, atteggiare &ferrare caualli … opera vtilissima à precipi à gentil’huomini, à soldati, & in particolare à manescalchi … 3rd edn. (Venice: Vincenzo Somasco, 1603), pt. 2, ch. XVI, 100–11.Google Scholar
  5. 15.
    Gervase Markham, Cavelarice, or, The English Horseman, Contayning 0all the Arte of Horse-manship, as much as is necessary for any man to vnderstand … (London: Edward White, 1607), bk. V, ch. 8, “Of the Passions which are in horses, and the love which their keepers should bear unto them” (n.p.).Google Scholar
  6. 27.
    For this concept of “musick” I am much beholden to Christopher Small, Musicking: The Meanings of Performing and Listening (Hanover, NH: Wesleyan University Press, 1998), esp. “Interlude I: The Language of Gesture.”Google Scholar
  7. 33.
    Vincenzo Forcella, Spectacula, ossia caroselli, tornei, cavalcate e ingressi trionfali (Bologna: A. Forni, 1975). This is Forcella’s undoc-umented quotation of a description of the event by its librettist, Francesco Sbarra. See alsoGoogle Scholar
  8. Egon Wellesz, “The ‘Balletto a Cavallo,’ “in Essays on Opera trans. Patricia Kean (London: Dennis Dobson, 1950), 82–89.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Karen Raber and Treva J. Tucker 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Elisabeth LeGuin

There are no affiliations available

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