Bodies of knowledge, kinetic melodies, rhythms of relating and affect attunement in vital spaces for multi-species well-being: Finding common ground in intimate human-canine and human-equine encounters

Donna Carlyle*, Pamela Graham

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
8 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

In this paper, we bring together two separate studies and offer a double similitude as it were, in finding "common ground" and "common worlds" between dog-human and horse-human interactions. Appreciation of the process and mechanism of affect (and affect theory) can enable a greater understanding of child-animal interactions in how they benefit and co-constitute one another in enhancing well-being and flourishing. Studies have thus far fallen short of tapping into this significant aspect of human-animal relationships and the features of human flourishing. There has been a tendency to focus more on related biological and cognitive enhancement (lowering of blood pressure, increase in the "feel good" hormone oxytocin) such as a dog's mere "presence" in the classroom improving tests of executive function and performance. Study A details an affective methodology to explore the finer nuances of child-dog encounters. By undertaking a sensory and walking ethnography in a North East England Primary School with Year 6 (aged 10 and 11 years) and Year 4 (aged 7 and 8 years) children (60 in total), participant observation enabled rich data to emerge. Study B involves two separate groups of young people aged between 16 and 19 years who were excluded from mainstream education and identified as "vulnerable" due to perceived behavioural, social or emotional difficulties. It used mixed methods to gather and examine data from focus groups, interviews and statistics using the Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale. Photo elicitation was an additional source of information. This equine intervention facilitated vital spaces for social and emotional well-being. The important significance of touch to children's and young people's well-being suggests a need for "spaces" in classrooms, and wider society, which open up this possibility further and challenge a "hands-off" pedagogy and professional practice.

Original languageEnglish
Article number934
JournalAnimals
Volume9
Issue number11
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 7 Nov 2019

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