Date of Award

May 2020

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science



First Advisor

Paul Brodwin

Committee Members

Ingrid Jordt, Joseph Gray


Embodiement, Expertise, Interspecies Relationship, Learning


This thesis focuses on the learning and expertise of equestrians. In this work, I use two theories, the first Jean Lave’s concept of apprenticeship or learning by doing. Apprenticeship allows people to gain the knowledge and skill they desire while also being able to become a part of a community. This knowledge and skill are seen as the newcomer becoming the oldcomer. The second theory uses Summerson Carr’s ideas of expertise. She describes expertise through four processes, socialization, evaluation, institutionalization, and naturalization. Overall, she explains expertise as something people do rather than something they possess through performance. Performance allows individuals to not only physically demonstrate, but also talk about the subject at hand. Due to my fourteen years of riding experience, my research for this work took place over a six-month period at a horse farm in Wisconsin. It includes participant observation and ten interviews ranging from beginner to more advanced student riders, and the teaching staff. My overall ethnographic work questions if apprenticeship leads to expertise among equestrians. It is through this question and case study that I focus on the importance of embodied communication and partnership through the human-equine interspecies relationship.