Human-Animal Interaction at the Stable

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  • Title: Human-Animal Interaction at the Stable: Observations of an Infant’s Pony and Bunny Contacts and Literary Arts in a Case Study
  • Author(s): Pirjo Suvilehto
  • Publisher: Common Ground Research Networks
  • Collection: Common Ground Research Networks
  • Series: The Arts in Society
  • Journal Title: The International Journal of Arts Education
  • Keywords: Animal/Non-Human, Art of Literature, Arts-Based Horse Activities (AHA), Bunny, Early Childhood, Equine, First Books
  • Volume: 14
  • Issue: 1
  • Year: 2019
  • ISSN: 2326-9944 (Print)
  • ISSN: 2327-0306 (Online)
  • DOI:
  • Citation: Suvilehto, Pirjo. 2019. "Human-Animal Interaction at the Stable: Observations of an Infant’s Pony and Bunny Contacts and Literary Arts in a Case Study." The International Journal of Arts Education 14 (1): 15-33. doi:10.18848/2326-9944/CGP/v14i01/15-33.
  • Extent: 19 pages


An infant (four-to-twelve months of age) experienced literary art activities and bunny/pony contacts at stables in northern Finland from May 2016 to January 2017. This case study consists of nine two-hour meetings, which were conducted with the arts-based horse activities (AHAs) method and aimed at enhancing pleasure, presenting art activities and providing bunny/pony contacts in a private home and at a private stable. The meetings took place once a month with the mother and the infant. There are ethical issues concerned with studies involving humans and bunnies/ponies. The study is an innovative combination of a child’s literary art experiences and animal/non-human contacts. As a context for a baby’s personal joy and development, examining this combination presents an innovative research field. The child and animals in this research are seen as active individuals, not as targets of actions. An animal can be a “silent fellow traveler.” During an infant’s first year of life (in this case, over the period of the nine months in which the meetings took place), multiple types of development, the experience of joy, and the growth of new skills occur. A posthumanist approach as a theoretical and philosophical background enables the researcher to look differently, write differently, find differently, and not state final conclusions about the results. This research paper concentrates on gaining insights into small, meaningful remarks of how the child creates personal relationships with books and animals. The child is viewing pictures and interacting with the animals to make decisions about what kind of world this is. The child eagerly learns new skills and feels new emotions. Most importantly, an infant less than one year of age has the right to experience literature, art, and animal contact.