Equinophobia

Equinophobia, an essay on horses and facing fears, by dina koutas poch.

Some have it, some don’t.

My equinophobia began I was eight years old.

I walked hand-in-hand with my friend, Robin Moore, through her backyard woods to her grandmother’s stables.

(This, as discussed in a previous blog post, is possible because I am from Connecticut and residents of Connecticut can do things like get bored and decide to cross over a stone wall and be at a horse stable.)

Robin, my friend, told me that one of the horses was “nice to kids.” But who can you trust when you’re looking at a 1,000 pound animal and thinking about climbing onto its back?

My memories are fuzzy and blur together; however, I distinctly remember riding the so-called “friendly” horse and it started snowing. My life was a picturesque snow globe.

Right next to me in a side pen, I watched an older man train, but really, just scare a horse. He was trying to back it up. And then my memories bleed into a scene from Black Beauty. 

The loud crashing and banging sounds that horses make in their stalls and their erratic movements followed by yells of: “Move to the right! They can’t see you!” filled me with terror. Not to mention, they can bite fingers clean off a hand.

Pony rides, anyone?

Monocular Vision and horses

Growing-up, two friends of mine were “bucked” off horses. They were not seriously injured, but their parents made excuses as to why it happened. I smelled a grand cover-up…

As a child, I checked the mail at the end of my driveway and a runaway horse charged down the street towards me. I swore off the postal system then and there. The owner of the horse found me a few minutes later to ask me if I had just seen a white horse run down the street. “Why certainly,” was about all I could muster.

I never talk about being afraid of horses. I just avoid them. I can’t shake the feeling that the horses are suffering somehow. Their eyes look like trouble is brewing.

And then Rob Gallo, a literal horse-whisperer from New York and owner of Driftwood Stables (http://www.driftwoodstables.com) confirmed that horses are suffering. They are in constant fear of predators and look to you for security. They think, “When that mountain lion jumps my fence at any moment, are you going to provide protection? Tell me why I should follow you.” In so many words…

Horses were a lot more like me than I thought.

My daughter and her love of horses helped me face my fear.

Now, cue my middle daughter’s obsession with horses.

She plays with plastic horses and ponies every day. Every week, month and birthday, she asks if she can ride a horse. I have a million excuses as to why she can’t…

After all, aren’t some horses carnivorous? Maybe those spotted ones?

Until three weeks ago when a Groupon landed in my inbox; who can say no to a deal? I bought three riding lessons at Silver Spur Stables (http://www.silverspurridingschool.com).

My husband agreed to take her to her first lesson. I attended Maia’s second horse-riding lesson. My 5-year-old learned to steer a glass-eyed horse named Fancy. I learned to control my:

  • Trembling
  • Sudden increase in pulse rate
  • Incessant thoughts about Christopher Reeves

 

My middle child, and a horse named Fancy.

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