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Riding Beyond the Book: Deeper Engagement with Medieval Equestrian Traditions

Call for Papers - Horse History sessions at the

International Medieval Congress - Leeds University 7-10 July 2025

Volume: Riding Beyond the Book: Deeper Engagement with Medieval Equestrian Traditions,

edited by Hylke Hettema and Bart Hartogsveld


In most media on the development of equestrian culture in history, the prevailing narrative follows the Western generic standard for histories of art and culture. Namely, the origin of this paradigm is proposed to originate in ancient Greece (Xenophon), reappearing in Renaissance Italy before making its way to France and the rest of Europe. The beginning of “the art of riding” is often ascribed to the Neapolitan Federico Grisone (1550), however more recently a multitude of authors contest this narrative and offer a more differentiated account. For example Pia F. Cuneo advocates for such a reconsideration of knowledge transmission in her seminal work on 16th century German bit-books:

“Although it is beyond contest that the writings of Grisone did indeed have an important influence on later sixteenth-century German discussions of riding and training techniques, numerous sources that I have found paint a detailed picture of a very rich and independent hippological culture in Germany before, during and after Grisone’s influence. It becomes clear, then, that the history as traced in the secondary literature has been constructed as to follow a thoroughly generalized trajectory of cultural development and thus in need of serious revision.” 


For our horse history sessions at the International Medieval Congress we invite submissions relating to the special theme of IMC 2025: Worlds of Learning. For these sessions, the focus lies on the history of the preservation, transmission, circulation and practice of equestrian knowledge, not only in the Western world but especially also in non-European worlds of learning. Themes we welcome may include, but are not limited to: 

- Oral transmission, practice and performance of equestrian knowledge

- Medieval epistemologies and systematisations of knowledge on horses

- Equestrian and/or veterinary knowledge transfer between languages and continents

- Preservation of knowledge on horse equipment production 

- Cultural transfer and cultural appropriation of methods of training and riding

- Forms of riding education (written material vs oral instruction)

- Practice of “living history” through re-enactment of equestrian knowledge 

- Knowledge of equines themselves: animal-agency in medieval sources

- Disciplinary cross-pollination: learning the art of riding in relation to other fields (e.g. dance, music, psychology and philosophy)

We invite submissions in horse history from all disciplinary approaches, including military studies, literature and art history, oriental studies, archaeology, osteology, history of veterinary medicine, and others.


For participation in the sessions, please send your proposed paper title, abstract of 100-150 words and a short bio of about 50 words to Hylke Hettema ( and Bart Hartogsveld ( by 1 August 2024. We welcome inquiries to act as a moderator for the sessions.


We intend the publication of a volume based on the IMC 2025 contributions in the Rewriting Equestrian History book series, published by Trivent. Preliminary title of this volume is "Riding Beyond the Book: Deeper Engagement with Medieval Equestrian Traditions". 

If you are interested in contributing to the volume without presenting a paper at the horse sessions please contact Hylke Hettema ( and Bart Hartogsveld (

Download the Call for Papers HERE.

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