The Death of the Horse

Transforming Conceptions and Practices in Finland


  • Nora Schuurman
  • Riitta-Marja Leinonen



The role of the horse has changed significantly in Scandinavia as a consequence of the modernization and urbanization processes. At the same time the conceptions of horses have changed from work and hierarchy related servant and workmate to anthropomorphic and scientific animal conceptions. Consequently, the goal of the farmers, to get the work done and keep the horse and equipment fit to perform, has been replaced by the goal of leisure horse owners: a happy horse and the purpose for the horse to feel well. The ideas of human welfare have created an idea of a welfare horse.


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Author Biographies

Nora Schuurman

Nora Schuurman is a Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Eastern Finland Joensuu campus. Her research interests include conceptions of animals, animal-related practices, discourses of animal welfare, and the role of the horse in Western society. Her current research is focused on the affective and performative dimensions of human-horse relationships, in the contexts of leisure horse keeping, equine trade and horse training.

Riitta-Marja Leinonen

Riitta-Marja Leinonen, MA, doctoral student of cultural anthropology at the University of Oulu, Finland, and a member of the ANIWEL Graduate School in Animal Welfare, is preparing her doctoral dissertation on Finnish horse culture with emphasis on human-horse relationship and horsemanship skills. Her research interests are in human-animal relationships, interspecies communication, multispecies ethnography, narrative research, and anthropology of skill. Her other research interests include horses at war and work.




How to Cite

Schuurman, Nora, and Riitta-Marja Leinonen. 2012. “The Death of the Horse: Transforming Conceptions and Practices in Finland”. Humanimalia 4 (1):59-82.