By Phillipa

Most of the time, it’s fine.

Being around horses brings a feeling of happiness that is difficult to describe to someone who hasn’t yet made that connection with equines.

Well, happiness about 80% of the time with quite a bit of frustration and exhaustion thrown in. There can also be much rolling of eyes when we add up how much our beloved horse has cost us this month.

Still, it must be worth it overall.

Unless you have a bad experience that completely knocks every bit of confidence, every belief you’ve had that you have this connection with horses, completely out of the ball park.

I’m not talking about a brief spell of doubt; I’m talking about a crippling fear, a change in your thoughts about horses that can have a devastating effect. I’m talking phobias.

This excruciating phobia of horses is called Equinophobia (aka Hippophobia), and you can read about it in the link.

Not just a brief moment of fear.

For people who have been around horses all their lives this condition seems unfathomable. We may have had the odd nip of the arm or a little kick. I don’t know many people who have never experienced the pain of having a half a ton of horse standing on their foot. There are plenty of stories about freak accidents, such as dismounting as the horse is spooked and finding your foot trapped in the stirrup or maybe being too stubborn to let go of the lead rope when the horse makes a bolt for it, with disastrous results.

Hopefully, if these things have happened to you, you have dusted yourself off, maybe turned the air a little blue, and carried on about your business.

People who suffer from Equinophobia may be so extreme in their fear that they cannot even bear to see a picture of a horse, or hear the sound of neighing or the clip-clop of hooves as they trot along the road.

Causes can be varied

For some, the phobia begins in childhood when a horse scares them. In young children, hearing adults speak of a fear of equines may instil in their minds the idea that the animals are always dangerous, out of control, and definitely out to get them.

Or it may be a very real experience with a horse which resulted in the sufferer being either so injured or just so scared that they can no longer contemplate being anywhere near equines without fear and panic gripping them.

It can happen to anyone

If this happens to someone who owns or rides horses, it can be a huge problem. To find out that an aspect of your life that bought joy and happiness in now the cause of anxiety and dread is a truly brutal discovery.

I have watched as a good friend stood outside her horse’s stable for great lengths of time, trying to summon the courage to go closer. There would often be tears as she loved her boy so much yet could not face getting near him. He was probably the most docile, gentle animal you could wish to meet but my friend couldn’t help the way she felt. Thankfully, this was a reasonably short lived spell of Equinophobia. She identified the root the cause of the phobia and spent many months focussed on overcoming her fear. She attended several rider confidence courses and enrolled to study equine behaviour. For her, this worked but it has taken time and she remains healthily cautions around horses.

Can you be cured?

Like other types of phobia, Equinophobia can be cured or at least diminished to a manageable level.

  • If it is interfering with your life and your enjoyment, it could be worth seeking out a hypnotherapist who integrates NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming) into their therapy.
  • Be prepared for it to take time. Be prepared for it not to work. Hypnotherapy is perfect for many people but it might not be right for you. Don’t despair if this is the case.
  • Make sure you have a supportive and understanding partner or friend as you try to work your way through this; someone who knows that your fear is very real and who won’t diminish your feelings in any way.

Finally, if you are suffering from Equinophobia now, remember that you are not alone. Phobias are very real and there are many people who experience them and many people who overcome them.

© Chaplestone Developments Ltd 2017

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