Women and horses : a study of Australia's recreational horsewomen

  • Sandra Burr

    Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


    This dissertation is a fusion of three grand passions that invigorate my life - a love of books and reading; a love of words and writing; and a profound and enduring love of horses. I am particularly attracted to the stories of other horsewomen, and while I identify with much that is written about women and horses, my own story and that of most contemporary Australian recreational horsewomen, is largely missing. Australia has a long tradition of horsemanship, a culture which in recent decades has become largely feminised and mostly recreational. Despite this reorientation, horses continue to be associated with such durable tropes as the outback, and 'the race that stops a nation, yet these masculine discourses are no longer representative of modern equestrian culture. The profound changes in what was once a vital sector of Australian society have been overlooked by scholars and creative practitioners alike, and it is only now that Australia's contemporary horsewomen have become a topic of academic inquiry. By examining the nature of the relationships between women and horses, I illuminate this unique culture, and in doing so extend our understandings of what it is to be Australian. I conducted the research using a combination of traditional and creative paradigms that allow multiple readings of what it is to be a horsewoman. The exegesis contains the data from which two interpretations of horsewomen emerge: an insider's view told by the women themselves; and an outsider's view constructed from an interpretive analysis of the data. My own subjective experiences are recorded in the collected essays, poems and visual material of the creative work. Taken as a whole the dissertation is a unique multi-layered account of modern Australian recreational horsewomen and they way operate in the world.
    Date of Award2009
    Original languageEnglish
    SupervisorJen Webb (Supervisor) & Mitchell Whitelaw (Supervisor)

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