Horse-riding and violence(s) from the Middle Ages to the twenty-first century: Evolution and situation of equestrian activities in France from the perspective of the civilizing process

Research papers
By Patrice Régnier, Vanina Deneux-Le Barh

Horse-riding is one of the more important forms of relationship between humans and horses. From the Middle Ages to the nineteenth century, we can observe the civilizing process with equestrian practices, while studying horse-riding texts or federal guides. Horse-riding is used to form elite groups while establishing a parallel between mastering a horse and commanding troops, governing a people. The evolution of the activity from the Middle Ages to the present day shows the decrease in violence toward horses, as well as the relaxing of equestrian activities going from war to art and then to sport. The horse is today again considered in its educational functions with the respect and the decency of humans. The institutionalization of equestrian sports has promoted educational projects based on competitive events. The reduction in violence was normalized by the development of equine well-being. Today, it reaches a final stage through the criticisms of animalists who emphasize the capitalistic and competitive aspects of the human–horse relationship. Its development constitutes a new moralization of society by rethinking how we live and work with horses, and with animals more broadly, ordering professionals to modify their practices, thus demonstrating a new dimension of the civilizing process.

  • sociology
  • horse-riding
  • sport
  • civilizing process
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