When it comes to riding horses, you must be aware of anything that could happen. Horses are large animals and are generally not considered dangerous; however, it is possible to fall off a horse which may result in harm. Whether it’s riding them for leisure or competing with them, there are many people around the world who love horses. Yet there are many people who are very fearful of horses, as it is a real phobia that persists among the general population.

Equinophobia is the abnormal and persistent fear of horses. Those who have this phobia may experience extreme panic or anxiety at the thought of horses or being near them. Equinophobia can be debilitating and interfere with activities.

Symptoms of Equinophobia

Symptoms may arise any time someone thinks of a horse or is physically near a horse. Such symptoms include:

  • Feeling of terror
  • Panic
  • Anxiety
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Increased pulse rate
  • Trembling
  • Feeling anxious next to a calm horse
  • Shortness of breath

Causes of Equinophobia

This phobia is most commonly caused by a negative or traumatic experience with a horse, usually during childhood. Many who are afraid of horses have been knocked off a horse, which may be why they say “if you get kicked off a horse, jump right back on.” Usually those who get kicked off horses will avoid them for a long period of time, and the fear of horses will gradually develop and increase over time. Media portrayals of horses and stallions add to the fear of horses. For example, there are movies that portray black stallions to be fierce, evil beings with beady red eyes.

Treatment of Equinophobia

There are several treatment options available for those suffering with equinophobia. It is recommended to seek treatment if you are unable to control your fear or if it interferes with your life. Cognitive behavioral therapy is one of the most common therapies for people with certain phobias. This form of therapy focuses on your fears and why they exist. It seeks to change and challenge the thought processes behind your fear. Cognitive behavioral treatment has been shown to be effective in treating people with equinophobia. Systematic desensitization is another effective treatment option. This form of treatment focuses on gradually acclimating patients to their phobias. The first step may involve thinking about horses, then looking at pictures of horses. Once the patient is more comfortable with those images, they may proceed to meeting a horse, touching a horse, and finally riding a horse. It may be necessary to use medication to help with this phobia; however, medication will only temporarily cease the symptoms and are not effective long term. If you have equinophobia, you should seek help, as it will allow you to treat your phobia.

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