The horse-human bond as catalyst for healing from sexual or domestic abuse: metaphors in Gillian Mears' Foal's Bread
Gillian Mears' Foal's Bread (2011) is an award-winning Australian novel that broadens ways of conceptualising the relationship between humans and horses through metaphor, with attention to the nurturing or abuse of both humans and horses. 'Therapeutic metaphors' in Equine Facilitated Psychotherapy (EFP) suggest how the horse-human bond can act as a catalyst to promote healing from sexual abuse and domestic violence. Little research has identified this rhetorical link. Concepts such as hybridity, or the melding of identities, embodied in the mythical Centaur, a primary trope in Mears' novel, reflects upon the sense of union discussed in horse-human bond research. This essay explores metaphoric structures in Foal's Bread and correspondences in EFP metaphors, arguing that EFP provides an evidentiary basis for Mears' figurative language, which demonstrates the rethinking of horse-human relationships in the context of the horse's role in human recovery or amelioration from sexual or domestic abuse.