Amphibious Horses: Beings in the Littoral and Liminal Contact Zones
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Horses galloping in littoral zones are represented as embodying wildness, freedom and a prelapsarian quality. Roy Campbell’s ‘The Horses of the Camargue’ includes themes which recur in texts about littoral horses: the romanticising segue between the horses and the environment they inhabit, the ramifications of wild horse and human entanglement and the unavoidable loss of littoral equine ‘freedom’ when he is trained and/or taken from the sea. Yet Campbell’s poem is dedicated to AF Tschiffely who rode two Criollo horses from Buenos Aires to Washington in 1925. If horses, generally, who cross boundaries between the wild and the tame, answer to those parts of ourselves which long for an uncomplicated connection with wildness, they also embody the potential for cross-species relationships based on training. Wolraad Woltemade’s horse exemplifies equine trusting of a rider; Edwin Muir’s poem, ‘The Horses’, stresses their desires for human connection. This paper will then take a serendipitous journey in the company of threshold beings who whinny littorally through childhood adventure stories, Misty of Chincoteague, and Big Black Horse, and the more sombre tale, The Homecoming, to fetch up on the edges of a dam in Tokai where a herd of horses, and one in particular, surpass youthful fable. Horses are luminous beings who exist liminally as well as literally— in personal myth and in grounded, horse-human relationships on the sandy dressage arena as they teach the rider the stability to connect symbol and ‘reality’, heaven and earth.