From Horses to Humans:
A Brief History of “Whispering”

In pre-industrial times, horses were thought of as a mystical beings, often named after gods.  Humans who had the power to harness the great beasts were suspected of witchcraft and burned at the stake.  Not surprisingly, most horse trainers practiced their craft in private.  Once witch-burning fell out of favor, though, the descendants of those early practitioners took their show on the road again.  Still considered mysterious, a man who could tame a horse somehow possessed special gifts and could attract quite a (paying) crowd.  He was not yet referred to as a “whisperer,” until…

the late 1700s

The term horse whisperer is used to describe Daniel Sullivan, a trainer from Cork County, Ireland, who calmed unmanageable horses, seemingly by whispering into their ears.

1995

Nicholas Evans publishes The Horse Whisperer modeled mainly on the work of Buck Brannaman, a horse trainer whose “skill, understanding and his gentle, loving heart,” Evans said, “have parted the clouds for countless troubled creatures.”  The movie catapults the little-known profession (later called “natural horsemanship) into public consciousness.

1998

The movie, The Horse Whisperer, starring Robert Redford and a young Scarlet Johannson, brings the term into everyday parlance.

1999

One of Tracy Hogg’s grateful clients, a producer in Hollywood, dubs her “the Baby Whisperer” because of her uncanny ability to tune in and calm even the most difficult infant (as well as the mother).

2001

Tracy’s and Melinda’s first book, Secrets of the Baby Whisperer promises that anyone can be a “baby whisperer”–respect and accept infants as individuals and learn to “read” their cues.

2002

Secrets of the Baby Whisperer for Toddlers applies Tracy’s common-sense philosophy to slightly older children.

2004

The Dog Whisperer, a reality show on National Geographic follows Caesar Milan, a “dog rehabilitation” expert, known as el perrero (“dog boy”) when he was growing up in Mexico.

2005

By the time The Baby Whisperer Solves All Your Problems, is published, the Internet is flooded with me-too whisperers.  We begin to hear of cat whisperers, beer whisperers, swim whisperers, motivational whisperers, dementia whisperers, and ass whisperers.

2007

Orlando Figues explains how the use of informants in Soviet Russia influenced the culture and family life in The Whisperers.  Dede Ketover, a not-for-profit consultant in Boston who specializes in “building, coaching, and training,” dubs herself  “The Board Whisperer.

2011

Kerwin Swint, calls his profiles of powerful influencers through history, from Machiavelli to Catherine de Medici to Dick Cheney, The King Whisperers.

2013

It is decided that the fourth Baby Whispering book will be call Family Whispering, as it embodies the philosophy of the previous titles and promises to give readers the kind of awareness and skills that will help them manage–and if necessary, “tame”–their families.