This paper reports on a qualitative New Zealand study, to explore the resources for psychological wellbeing that horses provide for some women. Health researchers privilege quantitative methods within a pathogenic paradigm. There is a dearth of qualitative research, particularly from a feminist stance, into the potential salutogenic (origin of wellbeing) effect of horses for women. This ethnographic research is informed by the relational health theory and uses focus groups to generate qualitative data. Analysis of textual transcripts determines the “meaning of horses to the psychological wellbeing” for the nine women participants. Most emergent themes are synthesised into three growth promoting qualities: authenticity; mutual engagement; and empowerment. The significance of this paper is that it extends the strength based relational health model. It focuses on another growth promoting quality that horses provide for these women, that is, a social connection to other humans. The role of horses in healthy psychological development and selfidentity was reported by the participants. The potential prophylactic effect of horses is a potentially fecund research area.
|Number of pages
|The International Journal of Health, Wellness and Society
|Published - 2013