Becoming Horse in the Duration of the Moment: The Trainer's Challenge

Stephen Smith


Language skirts the somatic fringes of the moment, particularly in practices where the powers of human speech and writing seem nullified. Horse training is one such practice. We tell stories of horse training that sensitize us and bring us close to creatures whose movements, resonating with our own, connect us to a prelinguistic, animate world. In so doing, we bridge the gap between the reflective detachment of our customary, wordy practices and the wordlessness of pre-reflective animality. Yet a phenomenological discursiveness shows us how vital moments of “becoming animal” can be consciously and linguistically sustained. “Becoming horse in the duration of the moment” addresses the corporeally-charged consciousness of being with horses on the ground and in the saddle. This paper describes a relationality and temporality that, though mostly wordless in strictly human terms, speaks a sophisticated language of moment resonance. In so doing, it contests the dualisms of verbal and non-verbal discourses, the separation of humans and other animals, and the divisions that keep somaticity on the fringes of consciousness. It responds to the ecological challenge to get beyond the linguistic appropriation of the other, human speciesism and anthropomorphic projections, in order to discern the kinesthetic and energetic expressivities of connecting with other beings and with the elements of animate existence. Horse training provides a case for “living” in the somatic fullness of the moment.

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ISSN: 1913-4711