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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Behind the Horse-Crazy Girl: Learning to Live Across Species

  • Author(s): Hansen, Natalie
  • et al.
Creative Commons 'BY-NC-SA' version 3.0 license

Black Beauty, National Velvet, My Friend Flicka, Ann Romney’s Olympic dressage horse Rafalca, infamous race horses such as Barbaro and Seabiscuit, and, of course, My Little Pony. What does a three-ounce plastic figurine vaguely recognizable as a “pony” have in common with 1,200 pounds of flesh-and-blood horse? What stories help us narrate our relationships to these very different types of beings? What is the draw toward such figurative and material instantiations of animality? What explains the fact that there are over 9 million horses in the United States 150 years after the industrial revolution mechanized transportation and labor, rendering our dependence on horsepower a relic of our past? The sensual and emotional glories of mud, sweat, tears, and triumph are all very real aspects of contemporary horse-human partnerships, but there is something more that inhabits this horse-crazy love.

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