A fear of horses may come from many sources and prevent a person from riding or even getting close to a horse. This fear, known as equinophobia or hippophobia, may be difficult to overcome and upsetting for those who love horses but are afraid to ride them. Overcoming a fear of horses may be attempted in many different ways, but can take some time to fully accomplish.
Horses are large and impressive creatures; many people find that they love the power and majesty of the animals right up to the time they come into actual contact with a horse. It cannot be denied that horses are generally large, strong, and sometimes unpredictable. If frightened or badly trained, a horse can indeed be a danger to people. Even a well-trained horse can have an accident that puts a rider in danger. A fear of horses is quite natural, but overcoming this phobia is far from impossible.
It is first important to try and understand the reason a fear of horses is occurring. Some people develop a fear after being falling off or being thrown from a horse. Others may experience anxiety while riding, since the animal is so much bigger and stronger than the rider and could presumably ignore commands and behave however it wants. Some people may simply be afraid of the size and power of a horse, or be worried about being stepped on or kicked.
In severe cases, people may try hypnotherapy or other forms of phobia treatment to overcome a fear of horses. A qualified therapist will go through a number of exercises, relaxation techniques and other methods to help a patient overcome this fear. Some therapists work directly with horses, helping people with a fear of the animals learn to manage and eventually overcome this fear.
A good instructor may be another way to overcome a fear of horses. By coming to understand how to care for and ride a horse, a person may begin to feel more comfortable around the animals. Instructors often train people not only in how to ride a horse, but how to brush and clean the animal, care for its tack, and understand the various signs and signals that a horse may be displaying. Familiarity may help calm anxiety.
Some people may develop a fear of horses after a first riding lesson. Knowledgeable riders look so natural and at ease on horseback that it may be easy to assume that riding is instinctual and that it will all work right away. It is important to remember that experienced riders have had years of training and riding, and that they, too, once had no idea how to make a horse trot, canter, or stop. The ease and grace of an advanced rider can only come about through repetition and training; having a bad or frustrating first lesson does not mean that a person shouldn't keep trying.