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Equinophobia or hippophobia is a psychological fear of horses. Equinophobia is derived from the Greek word φόβος (phóbos), meaning "fear" and the Latin word equus, meaning "horse". The term hippophobia is also derived from the Greek word phóbos with the prefix derived from the Greek word for horse, ἵππος (híppos).[1][2]

An example of the phobia can be found in Freud's psychoanalytic study of Little Hans.


The following symptoms can be exhibited when a person suffering from equinophobia either thinks of a horse or is physically near one:[3][4]

  • Feeling of terror
  • Anxiety (even if the horse is considered friendly and relaxed)
  • Trembling
  • Panic
  • Palpitations
  • Shortness of breath
  • Sudden increase in pulse rate
  • Nausea
  • Crying

Sufferers of equinophobia may also fear other hoofed animals such as donkeys and mules [5]


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 (An infamous example is when Christopher Reeve, an actor known for playing Superman, fell from a horse, broke his neck, and was paralyzed from the neck down for the rest of his life). In many cases, people begin to avoid horses and this gradually develops from fear to a full-blown phobia.[3][4][5]

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.[6]

Negative media portrayals of horses and stallions may add to one's fears.[4]


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, which 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.[4][7]

Convincing the patient that horses are not natural threats to humans and even humans have been predators of horses can help. During the Paleolithic, wild horses formed an important source of food for humans. In many parts of Europe, the consumption of horse meat continued throughout the Middle Ages until modern times, despite a papal ban on horse meat in 732.[8]

Notable sufferers[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Equinophobia definition". thefreedictionaanuary2014.
  2. ^ "Equinophobia definition/symptoms". medterms.com. 14 June 2012. Retrieved 7 January 2014.
  3. ^ a b "Equinophobia: It's for real". horsenation.com. Retrieved 7 January 2014.
  4. ^ a b c d "Equinophobia - Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment". allaboutcounseling.com. Retrieved 7 January 2014.
  5. ^ a b "Equinophobia definition/symptoms". medterms.com. 14 June 2012. Retrieved 7 January 2014.
  6. ^ "Fear of Horses - Equinophobia". fearofstuff.com. Archived from the original on 12 June 2018. Retrieved 7 January 2014.
  7. ^ "Equinophobia Treatment (summary)". remediespoint.com. Archived from the original on 12 June 2018. Retrieved 7 January 2014.
  8. ^ Richard Pillsbury (1998). No foreign food: the American diet in time and place. Westview Press. pp. 14. ISBN 978-0-8133-2739-6.
  9. ^ Chase, Chris (13 November 2012). "Eric Berry is scared of the Kansas City Chiefs' horse". USAToday.com.
  10. ^ "Top 10 Weirdest Celebrity Phobias: The Famous Faces and Their Fears". IBTimes.com.
  11. ^ "Celebrities share fears, phobias". TheIndyChannel.com. Archived from the original on 2018-06-12. Retrieved 2013-02-01.