Skip to Main content Skip to Navigation
Book sections

From Sport to Therapy. The Social Stakes in the Rise of Equine-Assisted Activities

Abstract : In this paper, we will consider how equine-assisted activities (EAAs) have emerged both in North America and in France. We will show that these practices tend to make social representations of horses evolve, emancipating them from the frame of horseback riding, as sport or leisure. At the end of the 1960s, adapted riding for people with mobility disabilities develops, and evolves towards “rehabilitation riding” in the years 1970-80. Then, new practices appear, claiming a more therapeutic approach (physical therapy, psychomotricity), and taking their distance from the equestrian social world: it is not the equestrian technique that can heal, but the contact with the horse, if supervised by a therapist. At the same time, these practices aim more and more at persons with psychic disorders (development disorders, behavior disorders, autism) and turn to a more “psychological” approach. We will so see that the more these practices involve taking care of people with mental handicap, the more they get loose from frames of the academic horse riding, and consider the horse as a being having interiority and individuality, and not only as something that you ride on. From “sport” to “therapy”, the social status of horses has become closer and closer of that of companion animals.
Document type :
Book sections
Complete list of metadatas
Contributor : Jérôme Michalon <>
Submitted on : Thursday, November 12, 2020 - 9:51:06 AM
Last modification on : Wednesday, December 16, 2020 - 10:32:25 AM


Jerome Michalon - from sport t...
Files produced by the author(s)


  • HAL Id : halshs-01095451, version 1


Jérôme Michalon. From Sport to Therapy. The Social Stakes in the Rise of Equine-Assisted Activities. Gillett, James; Gilbert, Michelle. Sport, Animals and Society, Routledge, pp.85-100, 2013. ⟨halshs-01095451⟩



Record views


Files downloads