What exactly is an equestrian culture? In this chapter, we operationalise the concept and illustrate a systematic approach to analysing equestrian cultures, drawing particularly on those surrounding dressage and natural horsemanship. Each has its own take on politics and ethics, which create multiple and often competing versions of ‘horses’ as well as ‘horse people’. What equestrians – and their horses – do, how they interrelate as well as how they rationalise and experience their experiences are all a part of these culture(s).
While equestrian cultures have many things in common, there are also differences, which we explore here by disaggregating culture into its manifestations of doing, saying, thinking and feeling. This provides a systematic framework to guide research on equestrian cultures, as we explain below. By comparing and contrasting dressage and natural horsemanship, we pay particular attention to how equestrian cultures create, shape and constrain humans, horses and their agency.