For horse lovers, it’s hard to imagine someone being afraid of these gentle, amazing animals that create so much happiness. The reality, though, is that horses are extremely powerful, large animals that can do a lot of damage to a person if they aren’t careful. Some horses have sassy attitudes, haven’t been socialized appropriately, or have fear issues as well which leads to aggressive behavior. For those who aren’t familiar with horses or have had a bad experience with them a phobia can be a very real problem.
For those who have equinophobia and would like to get past it, there are a few steps to take to help this fear subside. The processes of getting past fear is fairly similar for all types of fear, but for some the process can be exhausting and cause severe anxiety. Fortunately, you can take these steps at your own pace in order to get where you’d like to be with your horse phobia.
Understanding the Fear
The first step to getting past your fear is to understand where the fear comes from. Take a minute to figure out if you’ve had a bad experience with a horse, what about them scares you, what aspect of being in their proximity causes you to feel nervous.
Fear manifests in many different ways for different people and in different situations. Some are afraid to ride them but don’t mind petting them, some are afraid of them biting or kicking, and some can’t be around them altogether. Once you’ve discovered your reason for being afraid and what exactly you are afraid of you can start taking steps to getting past these fears.
It is important to understand that many of these fears are completely logical. Horse owners warn against feeding horses with your fingers, walking behind a nervous horse, or riding a horse that doesn’t match your riding skill set. It is important to be cautious around these animals, but it’s important not to let rational cautious behavior keep you from enjoying the equine industry. Start researching, talk to horse owners, and read all you can about them. Understand why horses react certain ways, read up on the qualifications of horse ownership, and learn how to read a horse. You’ll start to understand how to read cues from horses before they become dangerous, how smart they are as animals, and you’ll start to respect their magnificence.
Once you’ve uncovered the cause of your fears and learned as much as you can about them, decide what your expectations are with horses. Would you like to start riding, become comfortable enough to care for them, or just be able to be in their vicinity? Decide what is realistic and what isn’t by examining how far your fears go, your lifestyle, and your interests. Even the most fearful have the possibility to become seasoned riders with enough practice. Understand that there are no promises, however, and horses are still very strong creatures. Even seasoned riders have been injured by their horses, so be aware that no one will be able to promise you that you’ll never get hurt. Don’t let this deter you, though. There are many safety measures that riders take in order to keep themselves and their horses safe.
Confront the Problem
Now it’s time to face the problem head on. Make the leap and visit an equine center. This might sound like a scary thing, but take it in small steps. If you don’t feel comfortable just yet, take a few days to do more research, find a friend to join you, or ask the equine center to help you. Start small by visiting the horses from afar, feed them from the other side of their fence, or pet them. If the equine center knows that you are dealing with your fear of horses they will bring you a friendly horse that is comfortable around people. After you are comfortable with the first step, take the second one by getting closer, sitting on the horse, or walking them on a lead. Slowly with these steps you’ll be comfortable enough to ride, feed, or be around a horse without anxiety.
For those that have a horse around someone who has equinophobia, be sure to be cautious while they are around each other. Horses are very emotional animals and can sense the insecurities of others. They will react best to confident handlers that are more assertive, so if you have a nervous or pushy horse, it will be best to keep them away from each other until both parties are more confident around the other. If you have a horse that is stressed or in pain you might try equine massage to help their joints as well as their stress level. Once your horse is more comfortable or in less pain, they will be better for someone with horse phobia to be around. Keep an eye out for obvious aggressive or nervous cues from your horse at all times in order to stop an aggressive altercation before it starts.
The realities of equinophobia are different for everyone but can be a very stressful and anxious experience. It’s important to know that this fear is not unheard of and many people suffer from the same phobia whether it be an experienced rider or someone who is completely new to horses. The important thing is to understand why you are afraid, what aspects of a horse scare you, learn as much as you can, have realistic expectations for yourself, and to push yourself enough to confront the problem head on. Soon you’ll be able to enjoy the loving and exciting parts of being around horses and get past your fears.
Author bio: Chelsy is a writer from Montana who is now living in Boise, Idaho. She graduated with her bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Montana in 2012. She enjoys going home to Montana, spending time with her animals, and trying new beer.