Fear of horses, or technophobia, is an extreme fear of horses. The word is derived from ‘Equus,’ which means horses, and phobias, ‘deep fear or dread.’ It is known that almost 8% of people worldwide suffer from various animal phobias (Zoophobia). Sigmund Freud has described technophobia in detail in his landmark article on “Little Hans” (Analysis of a phobia in a five-year-old boy) based on the young technophobe Herbert Graf. It tells the story of a boy who developed a phobia after seeing a draft horse pulling a heavy load collapse in the street.
The boy later described that he was “terrified of blinders in front of the horse’s eyes and the black region around the horse’s mouths.” Another famous person who suffers from a fear of horses is Eric Berry, the NFL’s Kansas City Chiefs.
Causes of technophobia
- Animal phobias of various types are more common in women than in men.
- However, in almost all cases, the phobia develops from a negative or traumatic event in the past that is remotely related to horses.
- A child who has been bitten, kicked, thrown, or trampled on by an angry horse will forever remember the pain or blood around horses well into adulthood.
- Horses also have enormous teeth and penises that can scare young minds.
Experts also believe that many specific animal phobias tend to run in families.
- A parent showing fear of horses could unknowingly pass it on to the child.
- Genetic factors such as adrenal insufficiency can also lead to phobias.
- A catastrophe, an accident, or a disease closely related to horses can lead to permanent fear of them.
- Wild horses can be large, scary, and unpredictable creatures.
- They have muscle strength and speed on their side, which intimidates some humans.
- Actor Christopher Reeves of Superman fame was paralyzed from the neck down after being thrown by a horse.
- News reports of similar incidents seen on television/media can cause people who are already very nervous or anxious to develop an intense and persistent fear of horses.
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Symptoms of fear of horses
Most cases of technophobia do not cause any problems in the patient’s life. However, in extreme cases, this fear can be quite debilitating, especially when the individual can’t avoid the object of his fear.
Some technophobes have the following physical and emotional symptoms:
- Panic or anxiety attacks
- Fast breathing, fast heart rate
- Tremors, dizziness, fainting
- Fleeing at the sight of the horses
- Cry, yell, or get hysterical.
- There may also be gastrointestinal upset in nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, etc.
Young children with this phobia are likely to be teased or ridiculed by their peers. Often, the phobia is accompanied by other anxiety disorders and phobias.
Treatment and overcoming of technophobia
- One of the most effective therapies for treating technophobia is cognitive-behavioral therapy.
- It is a form of psychotherapy that involves changing the maladaptive thought patterns in the phobia.
- Through this therapy, individuals learn to adopt an open, attentive, and more conscious posture and to approach the object of their fear, in this case, the horses.
- Reading and learning about horses can also help phobics realize that their fear is irrational.
- Horses, at least well-bred and tamed ones, are generally harmless. Statistics also show that they do not typically harm humans as long as the necessary precautions are taken when handling or mounting them.
- Movies like The Horse Whisperer also show how the main character talks to the horses gently and reassuringly to help the technophobia overcome her fear.
- Another effective therapy to overcome the fear of horses is gradual/systematic desensitization. It consists of slowly acclimating to the horses by looking at their pictures, thinking about them, and gradually touching or riding them.
Hello, how are you? My name is Georgia Tarrant, and I am a clinical psychologist. In everyday life, professional obligations seem to predominate over our personal life. It's as if work takes up more and more of the time we'd love to devote to our love life, our family, or even a moment of leisure.