Equinophobia or hippophobia is a psychological fear of horses, derived from the Greek word 'Phobos', meaning fear and the Latin word 'Equus', meaning horse. The term hippophobia is also derived from the Greek word 'Phobos' and the prefix is derived from the Greek word for horse, 'Hippos'.
An example of the phobia can be found in Freud's psychoanalytic study of Little Hans.
Symptoms of equinophobia
- Feeling of terror
- Anxiety (even if the horse is calm)
- Shortness of breath
- Sudden increase in pulse rate
Sufferers of equinophobia may also fear other hoofed animals such as donkeys, mules, and ponies.
Causes of equinophobia
Negative experiences with horses during one's childhood may give rise to this phobia. Equinophobia may also be triggered by a fall from a horse.In many cases, people begin to avoid horses and this gradually develops from fear to a full blown phobia.
The phobia can also be caused by a simple fear of the animal itself. A horse's imposing size and weight and large teeth may scare some people, especially children.
Negative media portrayals of horses and stallions may add to one's fears.
Many treatment options are available for those suffering from it. Cognitive behavioral therapy is one form of therapy for people who suffer from certain phobias. It focuses on one's fears and the reason they exist. It tries to change and challenge the thought processes behind one's fear. Studies have shown that it has been effective in treating people with Equinophobia. Another treatment option is Systematic desensitization. This focuses on gradually acclimating patients to their phobias. The first step in this process may involve thinking about horses, followed by looking at pictures of horses. Once the patient is comfortable with the images, they may proceed to meeting a horse, touching a horse, and finally riding a horse. For extreme cases, it may also be necessary to use medication, even though its effects are only short term.
Notable people suffering from Equinophobia
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- Eric Berry, American football player
- Robert Pattinson, British actor
- Kristen Stewart, American actress
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