Hear the Centaur
: A study on the possibilities to use auditory stimulation whilst horse riding in order to raise somatic awareness of the rider

  • Embla Stenström

Student thesis: Master, two years


The purpose of this study is to explore the possibilities of using auditory stimulation in order to raise somatic awareness of horse riders while riding using Somaesthetic Appreciation Design as a method. In research of Somaesthetics and horse-human relations, a gap in Somaesthetics is being questioned, and a new dimension is suggested. Somaesthetics in the design of technology often surround the self of a user, and Somaesthetics as described by Shusterman is focused on self development, but many of our experiences are in union to other beings. The suggestion of a new dimension is called Centaur Somaesthetics, and it focuses on the relation and communication between two somas in order to understand and improve oneself. 

One example of an experience where the self is dependent to another being is within equestrianism, where the rider is dependent on the horse. Riders, as well as their horses, use their bodies to communicate while riding, meaning that being aware of one's body as a tool for communication is crucial. When horse and rider find harmony within teamwork, the rider may experience a centaur feeling of being one with the horse. This centaur feeling relies on the rider's ability to support and direct the horse, but to do this we need to understand the horse. One of the basics in equestrianism is rhythm and tempo, where a correct rhythm and a consistent tempo in all gaits is desirable as it is a sign of good communication and a well-educated horse. By applying the Somaesthetics principle of raising somatic awareness to understand and improve oneself - this study has explored the possibilities of using audio in combination with the self-tracking application Equilab, using their technology of tracking motion data to determine rhythm and tempo. This has resulted in the concept of using rhythm-adaptive and tempo-flexible music to support the riders to be more aware of their bodies as a tool for communication. The music will present a correct rhythm of the ridden gait as well as it is being played at a consistent tempo of the horse’s natural tempi.

While testing a design of the concept called Hear the Centaur, the conclusion of the music having great signs of a heightened somatic awareness was established. No objective data of a more consistent tempo or a more correct rhythm was found, but all riders who participated in the study articulated that they found a great support in the music. All riders found support in the area that they were currently struggling with, and all riders mentioned that the music helped them with their communication to their horse.

Date of Award2021-Jun-18
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorMargot Edström (Supervisor), Kerstin Ådahl (Supervisor) & Kari Rönkkö (Examiner)

Educational program

  • Digital design

University credits

  • 30 HE credits

Swedish Standard Keywords

  • Human Computer Interaction (10204)
  • Interaction Technologies (21103)


  • equestrianism
  • equilab
  • self-tracking
  • somaesthetics
  • somaesthetic appreciation design

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