Agents of sustainability: How horses and people co‐create, enact and embed the good life in rural places

Helen Wadham, Carrianne Wallace, Tamzin Furtado

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Notions of the good life are often strongly linked to rurality. Existing conceptualisations tend towards an anthropocentric and individualised approach centred on personal wealth, status and happiness. In contrast, this paper reframes the good life as an interspecies endeavour, which embeds people and animals alike by recognising their interdependent relational configurations within the wider natural-social environment. Specifically, we bring insights from the concept of buen vivir to bear on research among people who live alongside their horses in rural areas of the UK. We find that horses enhance, enable and mediate people's understanding and experience of the rural good life. In contrast to popular and scholarly conceptions that emphasise privilege and leisure, the interspecies iteration that emerges is characterised by hard work, collaboration and purposeful active learning. This has profound implications in turn for our understanding and experience of sustainability, as these interspecies relations lead participants into a more active stewardship of both the immediate and wider environment.
Original languageEnglish
JournalSociologia Ruralis
Early online date28 May 2022
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 28 May 2022

Bibliographical note

This is the peer reviewed version of the following article: Wadham, H., Wallace, C. and Furtado, T. (2022), Agents of sustainability: How horses and people co-create, enact and embed the good life in rural places. Sociologia Ruralis. Accepted Author Manuscript, which has been published in final form at This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance with Wiley Terms and Conditions for Use of Self-Archived Versions. This article may not be enhanced, enriched or otherwise transformed into a derivative work, without express permission from Wiley or by statutory rights under applicable legislation. Copyright notices must not be removed, obscured or modified. The article must be linked to Wiley’s version of record on Wiley Online Library and any embedding, framing or otherwise making available the article or pages thereof by third parties from platforms, services and websites other than Wiley Online Library must be prohibited


  • Sociology and Political Science


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