Gus with McKenna on the trail

Gus with McKenna on the trail


I never knew horse craziness would take me so far.  It began with a pony (Augustus McGrey, “Gus” for short) nearly twenty years ago, as it so often does.  He taught a little girl a few things about never giving up, even in the face of a stubborn pony, and some of that strength of character set me on the path I’m on today.  Now I have traveled to research the emotional aspect of human-horse relationships in three countries so far (with another five on the horizon).  Upon graduating university this year, I accepted a Watson Fellowship, which includes a stipend to travel and explore a topic of deep personal significance for a year outside of the United States.  My journey started with Kyrgyzstan in central Asia, where I learned about the traditional farming uses of horses in a post-soviet context.  From there I went to the World Equestrian Games in Normandy, France which allowed me to observe five different horse disciplines as well as many different performances (including a short and colorful reenactment of the Battle of Hastings).  Currently I am in Iceland examining the place of the horse as a source of national pride.  Each place I travel brings new perspectives, landscapes, and challenges to my own way of conceiving of horses.  Up next are the Faroe Islands, to hear about the large effort to salvage their native breed which has recovered from 5 individuals 60 years ago to 75 today.  Following that are Ireland (therapeutic horse riding), Argentina (cattle ranching with gauchos), South Africa (flat racing), and Australia (cattle station).  Coming from a hobbyist trail riding background, I am rapidly acquiring knowledge about the world of the rest of the horse industry.  You can follow me on my travels at kennamac.wordpress.com to see what I’ll get up to next in my hands-on education as I “Uncover Emotional Connections in Human-Equine Partnerships.”


For more information about my fellowship, go to http://www.watsonfellowship.org/site/fellows/14_15.html


Feel free to contact me at raneyme2@hendrix.edu for comments or more information.


Senior photo with recovered Buddy

Senior year of high school with Buddy

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