CAIRN-INT.INFO : International Edition

Drawing from papers published over a period of almost twenty years — €”including interviews and secondary analysis — €”this paper scrutinizes the horseback rider's body. It contends that horseback riding has transformed the rider's body or rather that the equestrian experience has led to a slow, almost imperceptible disappearance of the body. It also questions whether such sport identity reinforces or, on the contrary, undermines certain physical abilities of social groups attracted to horseback riding. A rider sees his or her body evolve throughout his or her career and according to the diverse situations faced (riding or not, in and out of the stable). A twofold requirement determines this evolution: not only should the rider become invisible while riding, but he also needs to become immune to tasks that are socially debased but that he still has to deal with once he dismounts. He can accept these better as he “€œbecomes”€ the body of the horse and as he and his mount move like one. The way the rider's body seems to be less visible when riding coincides with the physical dispositions of the upper classes inasmuch as it illustrates both their distanced way of considering the body and the composure of bourgeois etiquette. However, in other situations, the rider's body disappears in the “serving”€ type activities, compelling one to overlook physical and social sensitivity, challenging the discreet attention these very same social groups pay to their body under ordinary circumstances.


  • horse riding
  • socialization
  • uses of the body
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