Dancing with Horses: The Science and Artistry of Coenesthetic Connection

Part of the Leisure Studies in a Global Era book series (LSGE)


War Horse, Steven Spielberg’s 2011 motion picture adaptation of a 1982 children’s novel by British author Michael Morpurgo, extends a long storyline of heroic military horses. These horses include George Washington’s ‘Old Nelson’, Chief Sitting Bull’s ‘Blackie’, the Duke of Wellington’s ‘Copenhagen’, Napoleon’s ‘Magnolia’, and King Charlemagne’s ‘good steed Tencendur’ of ‘The Song of Roland’ fame (Crosland, 1999). The storyline can be traced back to Plutarch’s tale of Alexander the Great’s ‘Bucephalus’, a horse thought to be ‘so very vicious and unmanageable’ until the adolescent son of King Philip did what no other of the king’s men could accomplish. Alexander, realizing the horse’s fearfulness and, rather than attempting as others had done, to whip and spur Bucephalus into submission, turned the horse into the sun and away from his fearful shadow, having noted this to be source of the horse’s anxiety. Alexander walked beside Bucephalus with the reins in his hands, stroking him, coaxing him forward, until he could spring surreptitiously onto the horse’s back. Alexander then gathered in the reins and, with Bucephalus ‘free from all rebelliousness’, rode the horse on a careering course. So began a partnership of trust and devotion that would carry Alexander through numerous battles (Dryden, 1942).


Social Contract Prey Dynamic Animal Mind Animal Domestication Black Beauty 
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