2013, pp 165-181

Horse Power: Gender, Work, and Wealth in Canadian Show Jumping

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Abstract

This chapter examines gender and show jumping in Canada and focuses on two related questions. Why, in a sport where women and girls constitute the majority of participants overall, do men constitute a majority of the competitors at the highest, Grand Prix level? What factors are influencing men’s and women’s participation and achievement in Grand Prix show jumping? To answer these questions, I examine data collected through ethnographic research in equestrian culture. First, I consider the skills and attributes seen as key to Grand Prix achievement. Because show jumping is both a sport and one part of a broader for-profit horse industry, next I analyse the social and economic factors influencing participants. The political economy of show jumping has a substantial impact on the sport, and the labour necessary for competing and excelling in the horse industry reproduces gendered inequities. Accordingly, I argue that the cultural practices and socioeconomic relations outside of the ring play the most influential role in shaping the inequitable gendered makeup of Grand Prix show jumping.