Date of Award

January 2018

Degree Type

Open Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy

First Advisor

Shirley P. O'Brien

Second Advisor

Kathy Splinter-Watkins

Third Advisor

Melba G. Custer


The fundamental components of co-occupational relationships between humans and animals and their impact on occupational identity is an area for exploration in the study of occupation. Evaluating the lives of persons whose daily occupations involve working with animals contributes to the exploration of human-animal co-occupations. The aim of this research was to understand the lifestyle of International 4-in-Hand Combined Driving grooms and their symbiotic relationship with horses. This qualitative descriptive study used three methods for data collection and triangulation: semi-structured interviews, observation, and photographs, from 4 participants who served as gatekeepers understanding the culture surrounding the driving community. The data was coded apriori and analyzed using the Model of Human Occupation to understand the volition, habituation, performance capacity, culture, context and environment that shapes experience. Themes were identified. Results reinforce the importance of meaning within daily engagement as occupational beings. Implications for occupational therapy practice will be suggested.