The Pursuit of Virtù


  • Angela Hofstetter Butler University



horse stories, classical dressage, sexual abuse, personal narrative, trauma, psychology, domestic violence


The Pursuit of Virtù is a personal narrative revisiting a pivotal riding lesson that unlocked the uglier side of the adage that the horse is a mirror to your soul. The beating heart of the essay reflects on how a rider’s trauma can manifest in the body of the horse as well as how classical dressage—the pursuit of courage and collection—can provide a map to return to a harmonious state of balance that is as much mental as physical. Mostly, it is a prayer asking forgiveness from all horses who have had to carry the unbearable burden of human hearts and minds heavier than their bodies could ever be.


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Author Biography

Angela Hofstetter, Butler University

Angela Hofstetter shares her rural home in Story, Indiana with giant dogs, plump horses, and assorted flora and fauna from the Hoosier National Forest. She received her PhD in Comparative Literature from Indiana University where she fostered a passion for novels of the long nineteenth century. A Senior Lecturer at Butler University, Angela’s courses reflect her commitment to a robust intersectionality that interrogates the moral complexity of all animals — human and other. Her first-year seminar, “The Call of the Wild”, is her absolute favourite course to teach because she gets to spend an entire year with students exploring complex questions about nature, nurture, and justice.

Vasily Kandinsky, “Lyrisches“ from Klänge (1913)




How to Cite

Hofstetter, Angela. 2023. “The Pursuit of Virtù”. Humanimalia 13 (2):31–45.

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