PICS or it NEVER HAPPENED!
Updated: Jun 6, 2018
Seems like it’s only been a decade since activities and events took place in real time and you told your friends and family about them afterward- from memory! These days science (and journalism and politics and the law and Netflix and that guy in line at Circle K) show us how selective, flexible and impermanent our recollections really are. After you factor in social media documentation it’s waaay too easy to lose track of authentic experience as it unfolds, moment by moment, because everything ends up being about the photo op!
Working with miniature horses in public is seen by ordinary people as a performance so you’ve got to get comfortable with being a spectacle or you won’t survive the exposure! For the purposes of education and therapy nothing is more rewarding than the enchantment of a mini horse encounter and everyone wants (needs!) to post a shot. The downside is that people who would never be rude and photograph a total stranger will record videos of you and your service horse (perhaps service horse in training) as you slowly make your way across the street!
Just the other day a lovely young woman videotaped Flash negotiating some new and slippery stairs in town. And it wasn’t pretty! First a grand prix leap from the top, then a resistant slither to the bottom followed by a final stately step by step march to the sidewalk. We are complicit with the recording of this sorry schooling session, because we traded picture permission for the option of stair training on what appeared to be store property. The consequence is that documentation of our lamentable side show may reside on the interweb forever despite Flash’s eventual (Good boy! Well done, buddy!) expertise.
So, what are the rules about taking pictures of strangers in public anyway? Do we have any say in the matter or control over the outcome? Do we or should we even care? Basically, if you can see it you can shoot it with two caveats. No pics around military/defense locations and no pics in settings where the subject has a reasonable expectation of privacy. There is some (but not much) wiggle room to protest an image- although what constitutes reasonable could tie you up in court for years. There are public/private property guidelines that don’t matter much for mini horse handlers and obviously bathrooms (Hey we do important desensitization, balance and support work in there!) as well as medical settings are prohibited without signed consent from everyone.
When we are taking our own pictures to keep track of training activities we try to avoid including any identifiable strangers. If you can clearly see a face there are stickers and pixilating apps for protection although you never see journalists do this kind of anonymization. At schools and clinics, we don’t release pictures on social media sites until we are given permission by someone with the authority to do so. Several of us have clinical backgrounds and HIPAA guidelines for privacy protection are a lifelong commitment you just can’t shake. Even when everyone around you is fine with a casual shot!
Basically, if you team up with a miniature horse there is a 110% chance you will be posted on hundreds of Instagram and Facebook pages because your animal is a black hole of cuteness everyone falls into the minute they catch a glimpse. All their contacts and followers have got to see this- this being you and your tiny assistant! The logical corollary for when vanity kicks in is: Either you look good or your horse looks good but you will never look good together. Get over it!