What Is Equinophobia


We have heard of many social phobias and equinophobia is one of them. To break it down, equinophobia is a fear of horses. For further clarification, the psychological fear revolves around many factors towards hoofed animals like horses. 

Equinophobia is one factor that contributes to the development of many phobias such as fear of heights (acrophobia), fear of falling (basiphobia), fear of injury (traumatophobia), and fear of horses (zoophobia).  

Causes of equinophobia

The phobia manifests when an individual shows anxiety and can further result in anxiety disorder. The phobia affects all sexes and ages. Interestingly, the phobia can sometimes arise from a genetic mutation; within families, there is a 1 in 3 chance of one family member having the phobia. Family relatives do tend to transmit disorders. However, it depends on the type of phobia altogether.1  

Experiencing an extreme encounter with a horse can lead to the development of a phobia. Trauma can trigger negative emotions that intensify the symptoms of the phobia. Traumatic memories prompt individuals to stay away from horses and plan preventive approaches regarding the animal or overcoming the phobia.  

The whole concept of phobia arises from the portrayal of horse brutality in the movies.  The size and towering figure of horses can be intimidating at first, and one kick from the horse can trigger an individual’s sudden intense fear of death; and thanatophobia

The fear of horses can trap a person in a cycle of extreme anxiety known as rumination. Rumination persists in the negative thought associated with horses, which induces anxiety to further become equinophobia. 

The concept of equinophobia faces backlash from the media portraying horses as animals causing harm to humans, emphasising falls and kicks. The emphasis shows that people trust what the media portrays, rather than approaching the animal.  

Signs and symptoms of equinophobia

Symptoms of a phobia are described as having chills, feeling dizzy and lightheaded, increased heart rate, excessive sweat, and an individual might experience difficulty breathing. 

When it comes to the signs of phobia, it is associated with a psychological pattern involving the fear of losing control and feeling embarrassed about having a phobia. 

The presence of phobia symptoms might appear differently in each individual experiencing and coping with equinophobia. For example, consider the specific phobia in which symptoms are exacerbated when a horse is in full gallop; this triggers your body’s response mechanism.

Professionals share three subtypes of equinophobia’s symptoms. Psychological symptoms are fear taking over the body, involuntary movements, and paralysis. The physiological symptoms are when the individual is experiencing dizziness and other symptoms and then the behavioral symptom is doing everything to stay out and not encounter a horse.    

A particular sign to look out for is when a person has an allergy to horse hair. The allergy is associated with equinophobia. The phobia manifests from the anaphylaxis reaction, which releases extreme fear. 

Management and treatment for equinophobia

Treatment options vary depending on the type of phobia. With equinophobia, the fear is less likely to disrupt an individual's daily routine until the symptoms of the phobia are triggered when they are in an environment where horses are present. 

Phobias are treated by a psychologist, and they evaluate phobia: 

  • Evaluate the symptoms 
  • Discover how often the symptoms are triggered 
  • Find the origin behind why the symptoms appear
  • Discover how the phobia impacts the patient
  • Evaluating the mental health of that patient

Psychotherapy, such as exposure therapy, is about exposing the phobia in a controlled environment. The therapy session requires the patient to experience a small amount of anxiety for the psychologist to absorb and analyse the cause of the phobia. 

The purpose of exposure therapy is to create realistic thoughts and generate an accurate mental image of the horse, dismantling negative thoughts and reactions. 

Cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) known as talking therapy, helps to go through feelings of the trauma/memory and seek the causes of the phobia. Disarming feelings and emotions can reduce the impact the phobia has on an individual. Cognitive behaviour therapy enables the patient to understand potential triggers and symptoms, discuss the origin of the phobia, observe the phobia’s adverse reactions, and learn strategies to remain calm. 

Clinical hypnotherapy is similar to CBT, but it focuses on the feeling involved when the phobia symptoms are shown. The therapy technique gives relaxation methods. 


Diagnosing equinophobia is challenging due to its relative obscurity simply because the lack of awareness surrounding a phobia towards horses results in insufficient data to fully acknowledge this phobia.  

However, when observing the symptoms, the phobia is characterised predominantly by experiencing relative fear, intense anxiety, and panic attacks.  Having fear due to a phobia impairs our ability to function the whole day. The patient, who is surrounded by horses and finds it challenging to manage negative and uncontrolled emotions, is exhibiting a sign of a phobia.  

It is recommended to visit your GP, as they can refer a patient to a psychologist for further support.  

The diagnosis of equinophobia is established by looking at the patient’s medical history to investigate and identify a recurring pattern where phobia’s symptoms persist. The explored symptoms are; anxiety, genetic and panic attacks and other mental health conditions. 

The diagnosis is relevant if the fear and anxiety endure, and if the phobia is linked to horse-related concerns as described by the patient. 

It is important to distinguish that a phobia differs from other mental illnesses or mental health conditions. 


Equinophobia is rarely a phobia that requires medication prescriptions. However, depending on the individual, if cognitive behavioural therapy and clinical hypnotherapy prove ineffective and the trauma impact becomes unbearable, medication like beta-blockers, sedatives, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, and anti-anxiety medication can be prescribed. 

Beta-blockers reduce the fear of the phobia. Beta-blockers are effective in the midbrain in the hypothalamus. The medication affects the sympathetic fear response and the explicit fear memory from horses.2  

Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are usually prescribed for mental illnesses relating to anxiety disorders and depression. Equinophobia complication involves severe anxiety and panic attacks for which SSRI is a good fit and should be prescribed by a mental health professional.3 

Sedative intake and the episodes of panic attacks indicate and are predominant to suggest selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors. SSRIs are also prescribed when a patient experiences painful flashbacks. To reduce episodes of panic attacks, anti-anxiety medications can be prescribed.3 


How can I prevent equinophobia?

We are too quick to expect a phobia to be treated with medication and to suppress the symptoms, but other methods can be advantageous to prevent equinophobia. 

Recognising that you have equinophobia is the initial step, as many individuals were previously unaware and instead doubted their sensibility despite the possibility of a diagnosable phobia. The phobia of horses can be worked on by acknowledging the trauma/ the root of equinophobia. Understanding our phobia is essential to neutralising and dissipating the phobia.

Making a list of the specific factors that produce the phobia is efficient. The list demonstrates that equinophobia can be worked on by beginning with the least fear on the list and working our way up to the number one fear. 

Avoid being persuaded into the media’s depiction as it gives a false first impression and sets up unrealistic fears you might not have. 

How common is equinophobia?

Equinophobia is a phobia that is triggered in one specific situation. The reason for data not being interested in accumulating numbers and clinical trials has to do with not having solid data. 

In the UK, 7.5% have reported experiencing equinophobia, whereas other phobias have a higher percentage like agoraphobia, which is one and a half million in the UK.  

Animal phobia only intervenes when we are about to experience the same sensation that developed the phobia.

Who are at risk of equinophobia

Equinophobia can happen to any individual regardless of the sexes, young age, or background and can experience this phobia. 

People who have experienced trauma while working with horses remain traumatised.  

When should I see a doctor?

If the signs and symptoms are getting worse and panic attacks set in then it is better to seek a GP to get diagnosed and talk about the phobia. One should watch for the severe complications of equinophobia such as depression which can lead to suicide.

GP would require notes from the therapy session or getting in touch with the therapist and psychologist following the progress of the phobia. 


Equinophobia is not a typical phobia as it is a specific phobia to one animal, one environment and one moment that is being near a horse. The sensitivity to horses is partly to blame the media’s propaganda on horses.

Phobia can lead to developing complications if not followed by a cognitive therapist and a psychologist. However, it is important to note that equinophobia is not considered a mental illness or disorder. 


  1. Villafuerte S, Burmeister M. Untangling genetic networks of panic, phobia, fear and anxiety. Genome Biol [Internet]. 2003 [cited 2023 Jun 11];4(8):224. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC193636/
  2. Kroes MCW, Tona KD, den Ouden HEM, Vogel S, van Wingen GA, Fernández G. How administration of the beta-blocker propranolol before extinction can prevent the return of fear. Neuropsychopharmacology [Internet]. 2016 May [cited 2023 Jun 11];41(6):1569–78. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4820039/
  3. Cassano GB, Rossi NB, Pini S. Psychopharmacology of anxiety disorders. Dialogues Clin Neurosci [Internet]. 2002 Sep [cited 2023 Jun 11];4(3):271–85. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3181684/
This content is purely informational and isn’t medical guidance. It shouldn’t replace professional medical counsel. Always consult your physician regarding treatment risks and benefits. See our editorial standards for more details.

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Suruthy Mary Joseph

Bachelor in Biomedical Science (IBMS)- BSc in University of Portsmouth

Suruthy has established 10 years of education in medical science and provides a strong writing background in advanced medical research. Suruthy undertook projects of her own and succeeded in Biomedical data. She is still eager to research and undercover clinical trials to educate the general public on various health problems and benefits. She incorporates her knowledge of traditional natural remedies in her research and writing. She is currently writing essays on various diseases at Klarity.

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