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  • Photographs taken in 1972 for a project titled

H is for Horsetrainer

While searching for a career beginning with the letter H, I was stunned by the number of jobs traditionally reserved for females; hygienists, housekeepers, hair dressers, home health aides… the list was long. Trying to stretch it a bit in 1972, I hunted high and low for a female helicopter pilot but no such luck. I finally settled on Horse trainer. In America there are an equal numbers of male and female horse trainers. And don't let the lack of women in the Kentucky Derby fool you into believing that women haven't left their mark on horse racing. Although the sport undoubtedly remains a largely male-dominated world, women continue to break down barriers as jockeys, trainers, owners, and breeders. So while no women rode in the 2017 Kentucky Derby they have a strong presence in the world of horse training. Interesting, however, is that the largest horses are usually the most dominant ones. With dominant horses, a man's tendency to have a larger body size and a deeper voice has been found to be advantageous for establishing a dominant position in the cooperative relationship between horse and human. But for more submissive horses or those who have had negative prior experiences with humans, the more imposing physical characteristics men often have, can be a serious disadvantage. On the other hand, women may have an edge because their social conditioning emphasizes picking up nonverbal cues, and relating rather than dominating. Sounds familiar doesn’t it?

Adapted from

Sue Haskins, Horsetrainer

Casanova, New York 1972

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