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Article series: the last guest lecture on the 5th of March at the class “Critical Animal and Media Studies”, by Rita Wing

Article series: the last guest lecture on the 5th of March at the class “Critical Animal and Media Studies”, by Rita Wing



On the 5th of March 2019, at the class ‘Critical Animal and Media Studies’, three guest lectures provided three very interesting presentations on three different subjects. Below you can read about the first lecture by Rita Wing, who is specialized in how humans treat horses. While she always wanted to ride horses when she was still a young child, she changed her mind after she finally achieved her dream of having her own horses. This might sounds rather strangely, but Wing explained immediately how this happened.


At the same moment she started riding her own horses in Catalonia, she also started reading and exploring about how horses feel and think. Soon, Wing wound out that the general picture of horse riding and other horse-related activities isn’t that bright as we might think it is. For instance, she found out that in all horse sports, the following often happens:

  • Unnecessary invasive interventions;

  • Training and riding techniques that involve punishment or extreme control;

  • Use of artificial aids, such as spurs and whips;

  • Repeated long-distance transport;

  • Housing in single stalls, and;

  • Inappropriate feeding.


Looking at the website, it becomes clear how many horses each day get hurt because of horse sports.


Wing then came to the matter of recreative horse riding. Is horse riding enriching and a cognitive stimulator for horses, or maybe not..? According to Wing, the answer is definitely a no, because of for instance the aspect of domestication, which is always a process of human selection. After all, to get the right horses, many others have to be killed. To see how domestication affects horses, she presented a research on how horses spent their time in the wild: 50/60 percent of the time they spend eating, 20/30 percent resting and about 10% socialising (besides some other things). This is a very different picture from domesticated horses.


Luckily, Wing continued, there are wonderful projects that give horses a new chance, such as Proyecto Caballo in Catalonia. More information about this project can be found here: Wing finished with a quote from James R. Rooney: “We are so extraordinarily arrogant, we humans, that we think nature exists for our benefit and our use and that nature must adapt to our requirements. ... Nature did not design the horse for man to use.”


The whole book of Rooney on horses can be found here: