Equinophobia - Symptoms and Causes of a Fear of Horses

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The term “equinophobia” is derived from “equus,” the Latin term for horse, and “phobos,” Greek for fear. “Hippophobia,” an alternate term for this condition, is derived from “hippos,” the Greek word for horse, and “phobos.” From these terms, it is easy to guess that equinophobia is an abnormal and unrelenting fear of horses. In most cases, the fear is unwarranted, as it will seize you even if the horse is tame and gentle. Even a horse that is restrained by rope or locked in a stable can spark anxiety. In addition, equinophobia is not always limited to horses; you may also fear ponies, donkeys, mules, zebras and other hoofed animals.


Equinophobia invokes symptoms that are typical of an anxiety or panic attack. When near a horse, you may experience the following physical conditions: accelerated heart rate, sweating, dizziness, nausea, chest pain, shortness of breath, and trembling. Psychological reactions such as feelings of unreality or an intense detachment from yourself are also common symptoms. While a fear of fainting may arise during the anxiety attack, actual fainting is a rare occurrence.

In severe cases, simply thinking about a horse can bring on these symptoms. Similarly, the sound and smell of a horse or sight of manure can also act as triggers. Taking extreme measures to avoid horses and anything associated with horses is a strong sign of equinophobia. This will most likely inhibit you from participating in activities such as horseback riding and spectator events such as rodeos and circuses where horses may appear.


Although some phobias are more likely to develop during childhood, you can acquire equinophobia at any age. A personal accident involving a horse typically sparks the phobia. For example, unpleasant experiences of being bitten, kicked, trampled or thrown by a horse are common causes.

Sometimes, simply witnessing aggressive horse behavior, whether on a television show, movie or in real life, is conducive to equinophobia development. Having knowledge of horse-related accidents is another potential cause, but here other factors are usually required for a severe phobia to develop. For example, learning that, actor, Christopher Reeves suffered from paralysis after a horse riding accident may inspire you to be cautious with horses; however, that information alone may not lead to an unreasonable phobia.


You may want to consider treatment if equinophobia serves as a continual interruption in your daily life. Therapists usually treat phobias with exposure therapy. During this process, you are gradually exposed to the object of fear, first in an imaginative situation and later in reality.

When treating equinophobia, a therapist may first have you draw a picture of a horse. Next, you would be exposed to a picture or video featuring horses. Eventually you will be led to stand near a real, restrained horse and make contact with it. The final step could involve mounting the horse’s back.

Before treatment begins, you can help yourself by learning more about horse behavior and how phobias work.


Mayoclinic.com: Phobia Symptoms

Ailments.com: Equinophobia

HelpGuide.org: Phobias and Fears