Part 2 – The Cultural Fog

The title of this post is The Cultural Fog, which is referred to regularly by Dr. Susan Friedman. I have referred to this before in this post.

The other name for this is conventional wisdom. Here is a quote from Wikipedia. Conventional wisdom is not necessarily true. It is often seen as a hindrance to the acceptance of new information, and to the introduction of new theories and explanations, an obstacle that must be overcome by legitimate revisionism. That is, conventional wisdom has a property analogous to inertia that opposes the introduction of contrary belief, sometimes to the point of absurd denial of the new information or interpretation by persons strongly holding an outdated but conventional view. Since conventional wisdom is convenient, appealing, and deeply assumed by the public, this inertia can last even after many experts and/or opinion leaders have shifted to a new convention.

For centuries horses have been thought of as beasts of burden. They have worked the fields, been used for transport and carried men to war. They have been our slaves.

Certainly horses have been admired, idolised and appreciated at times for all they have done for the human race. But has the horse had a voice? Is there still a slave mentality in the horse world?

Horses are big animals – they can be dangerous even if they are not being aggressive. I’ve had Saadi swing his bottom into me by accident. It sent me flying into the fence. I was out of action with bruised ribs for a week! We’ve all been stood on at various times, and some of us have been bitten and kicked. And that’s before we are even on the horse!!!

No wonder horses have been treated as something to dominate. They are useful to us humans! These days they are mainly used for pleasure, but they must be compliant and safe.

Let’s look at these photos. These are just some from the free photo library when I type in horse riding. These photos would all be acceptable in the general horse world.

Maybe some of these horses would be fine….but I’m just going to come out and say it…. I guarantee that none of these horses have been given a say….

…. and that’s the cultural fog we are living in in the horse world…..

The photo above could symbolise us humans stuck in the mindset that horses are to be used for our pleasure and it could also symbolise how the horse is feeling when it has no say.

I’m trying not to be all preachy. It’s not that long ago that I didn’t really see the horse at all. I was too busy listening to the celebrities of the horse world, as I’ve documented in my ‘journey series’. Now I see them and hear them.

That change is due to clicker training. Even though I was involved with animal communication way before that first impression of clicker training, I hadn’t made the leap. I was still compartmentalizing. I was communicating with them, yet I was still so strongly caught up in the cultural fog.

But even years earlier there was something that touched me so deeply. Who can forget the movie Babe It was made in 1995. At that time I was living in the city and I had two young children – certainly no horses! I remember taking them to the movies to watch Babe – and that movie touched me so deeply. It was due to scenes like this

Watch the video above – and there is the message. All you have to do is ask nicely and treat them as equals. Now watch the video below. The people in the stands represent the cultural fog. But it’s nice that they cheered the pig in the end!

So far I’ve written about my first impressions – and now the cultural fog – in this category of ‘What Does It Mean to Be a Clicker Trainer’. I’ve talked briefly about the mechanics of clicker training, what was a drawcard at the first Equitana I visited, and now the long held conventional wisdom in the horse world.

In my next post I will talk more about the gradual change in mindset! For now, maybe we should all watch Babe again!



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