Mellan hästens öga och människans strävan
En dialektisk relation gestaltad i biografiska porträtt
Between the horse’s eye and the human endeavor. A dialectical relationship embodied in biographical portraits
Keywords: horse and human, antropomorfism, biographical portraits of horses, interspecies relationshipDescribing horses or other animals in portrait-like fragments or statements is an established practice and a genre that occurs in different kinds of materials and contexts. What does the portrayal of the horse do with the interaction space and with its possibility for agency? This thinking has prompted an investigation of the discourse on horses and discussions about an intergenerational relationship within a life history story. The purpose is to seek to create insight into the animal-human relationship through a close reading of written portraits and descriptions of intertwined biographies within interview material. The article is mainly based on two subject-oriented life history interviews with experienced horse owners, as well as two written portraits of unique horses. Questions addressed in the processing of the material are: How do the informants describe their horse partners? What impact do these interpretations have on the relationship space and to a possible cross-species interaction? How is the significance of the intergenerational relationship expressed in depictions of a shared life course? A central starting point for the understanding of the animal-human relationship is that it is constructivist, in line with contemporary animal studies in humanities and social science research. In the intergenerational space created between a horse and its human, the relationship is considered unique and dialectical. It is negotiated and expressed through socially and culturally expected formats within a very specific context. The phrase The horse’s eye is used in the title as a symbolic and real point of reference that reveals both the horse’s mode and mood, which its human has to take into account. The words Human endeavour refer to the everyday practice that is expressed through the horse owner’s sensual experiences, thoughts, attitudes, training and nursing. Stories reflecting the horse experience refer to both stable and more temporary syntheses within this intergenerational relationship space. The division of roles between horse and human can be perceived as relatively equal or it alternates between different situations, as exemplified in the empirical sections.