Hypophobia (fear of horses): symptoms, causes and treatment

The horse has been a symbol of nobility, strength and loyalty for centuries. Throughout history and until the invention and popularization of the automobile, these animals have accompanied man on almost all of his travels.

Horses have been greatly appreciated, admired and loved by the vast majority of people since ancient times, even in the dreams of many children. But for some people, seeing or meeting a horse can be a cause of great embarrassment and panic. This is what happens to people who suffer from hypophobiaAn anxiety disorder linked to this type of animal.

    What is hypophobia?

    Hypophobia is called ‘ extreme and exaggerated fear or panic caused by the presence of horses. This fear can appear in the presence of equines themselves or while waiting for them to appear, although it can also appear (although usually to a lesser extent) in representations of these creatures.

    It is a specific phobia related to animals, which means the existence for at least six months of an exaggerated fear or panic and disproportionate to the possible danger that the stimulus in question could pose. The sufferer generally tends to avoid, or endure with a very high level of anxiety, contact with these creatures. It was previously considered that the same person is generally aware that their reaction is exaggerated by the actual danger they represent, but today this recognition is not necessary to diagnose it.

    The sight or even the idea of ​​the proximity of a horse can cause in a hypophobic person the appearance of a very high level of anxiety which can actually lead to an anxiety attack. Sweating, tremors, headaches, nausea, and vomiting are some of the most common physiological symptoms, along with tachycardia and hyperventilation.

    Since it is not common to find horses in our daily life, as a rule, this phobia usually does not cause much interference in the daily life of those who suffer from it. However, fear can also be triggered in situations related to the presence of horses or in which representations of these creatures appear, for example by avoiding horses, amusement parks or fairs in which these representations may appear or even all real animals.

      Causes of this phobia

      Like other phobias, the causes of hypophobia are largely unknown. however, there are different assumptions about how it looks.

      The main hypothesis in this regard is that which proposes that the fear of horses is acquired, learned by experience. This is common for people who have been in accidents, whether it be kicking or falling. It can also be learned by proxyEither because a person in the environment has suffered accidents related to these beings or has seen or read cases of accidents related to horses.

      Another of the most common hypotheses is one that presents / displays phobia to certain stimuli like something phylogenetically inherited from genes, a natural reaction which allows the human being to escape dangerous stimulation. Although horses are herbivores that would not chase us and pose a threat at first, they are animals of great power and stature: the glitter of a horse has the potential to be deadly, and a stampede of these beings could easily cause a person. die.

      Treatment of fear in horses

      As with other phobias, one of the main and most effective treatments to apply for the treatment of hypophobia is Exposure therapy. This therapy is primarily based on exposing the subject to the feared stimulus without using avoidance techniques until the anxiety and panic caused by the phobic element subsides until they become virtually imperceptible.

      It is generally carried out in a graduated manner: it would be a question of making a hierarchy of phobic stimuli, With different items or stimuli that generate an ordered panic according to the level of anxiety that it supposes, to gradually expose the subject to these stimuli of graduated form. For example, in this case, it could start with exposure to images of horses to gradually increase the complexity and level of exposure, such as visiting and mounting on horses, exposure to the vision of a horse alive and gradually approaching, perhaps to the point of touching or even mounting on the animal.

      Eventually, you may even consider visiting some stables or even the practice of equine therapy. However, this is an example: the things to consider must be negotiated between the patient and the therapist depending on whether the former is anxious (which can vary greatly depending on the patient, no matter how much the phobic stimulus is the same) and what you are ready to do.

      Beyond the exhibition, cognitive restructuring can be of great help in combating distorted beliefs and maladjusted, such as a possible vision that a horse’s approach will make him hostile, that he is aggressive, that the subject is unable to cope with his panic, or that he will most likely fall from a horse’s he manages to climb.

      Using relaxation techniques can be helpful in dealing with the onset of anxiety, either to prepare for possible exposure or to reduce the internal tension associated with your panic.

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