The Horse Phobia

27 Oct

I’m not afraid of a lot of things. As a matter of fact the list includes: heights (namely in terms of flying in planes), roads with no sides (as in there is no guard rail), being alone when I’m old and horses, which I mentioned in yesterday’s post.

I’ve had three bad experiences with horses and as far as I’m concerned, that’s three bad experiences too many. It all started in sixth grade, at a friend’s birthday party which included a trail ride for all of us. Sounds fun, right? WRONG. I managed to get one of the only horses in the group that didn’t want to listen to the commands. So rather than enjoying a nice, relaxing trail ride with my friends, my horse took off into the woods after the one in front of us did. My best friend and I were stuck on these horses, screaming, limbs and leaves smacking our faces, terrified out of our minds. I don’t even remember how in the world we were rescued.

Fast forward about six years and this time I’m at Sixth Grade Camp as a Counselor a school district-wide week where we went to a local YMCA camp which is a pretty fun week except for the horseback riding event that all students and counselors must do. And guess what!? They give me the bad seed horse again. Doesn’t listen to commands. Doesn’t respond to the reins. Either stands there and doesn’t move or takes off into a run. So once again, I’m running wildly through the woods (though fortunately on the trail for a change) much to the enjoyment of my charges. This time I at least didn’t get any scrapes or cuts from the woods.

You’d think I’ve learned by now, but alas, not so much. I was a camp counselor twice because it really is a rewarding experience and so I had to ride the darn horses again. And would you believe they gave me the same horse the second time? Yup, they did. Same thing, only this time the horse was a tad more wild and decided to stand up only two legs while I’m on him and I really thought I’d fall off him and break my back.

So now you know the story of Nora & the horses. And why standing in a stall with a large horse (a Quarterhorse to be exact) was such a feat for me on Sunday. His name was Scott and he was quite interested in his hay + water combo he had going on so he paid little attention to me. That and I was very careful to move slowly, quietly and always stay within his eye sight. I confess, I even enjoyed it for a few moments. (Most of the stalls were empty as the horses were in pasture while we were there, but only females on Sundays it seems.)

I moved onto another stall where there’s a 25 year-old pony named Vera. The sign on her stall says she’s afraid of people and recovering from a bad broken leg of some sort so I approached her cautiously. Much to my surprise, she warmed up to me and even let me pet her. I instantly fell in love with her, for whatever reason and kind of hope she’s there when I go back. (Though really, it would be better for her if she’s adopted. Anyone need a pony? She’s only $100! She’s beauitful, too.)

I guess the next step for me would be to ride a horse but I don’t think that will happen anytime soon. Baby steps are just fine with me!

Tell me, do you have any animal phobias? If not, what are you most afraid of/do you wish you could overcome it?


18 Responses to “The Horse Phobia”

  1. Kyla Roma October 27, 2009 at 3:38 pm #

    I would make an important distinction- this is a trail horse riding phobia, not a horse phobia in general =)

    Riding horses without having taken lessons is like driving a car without taking lessons- the end result isn’t going to be good. The hard thing about trail horses is that they have so many riders that cue them way too hard or way too soft that they just lose all sensitivity- and going on the same trails is boring, even for a horse. They zone out & then when something surprises them it can really surprise them!

    My tips would be if you’re going to be in close quarters with them, keep a hand on the horse as you’re walking around them so they know where you are and won’t be spooked. And if you’re worried about their attitude, watch their ears. Pinned flat back = you could get hurt soon, 1 or 2 ears turned back = What are you doing back there, lady?, ears forward = they think you have food or are happy to see you. No horse kicks or bites without giving plenty of warning in their body language, so if you watch their ears you’ll be safe on the ground!

  2. Liz October 27, 2009 at 3:47 pm #

    As someone who was even raised around horses, I know what you mean. I’ve had bad trail riding experiences too. Just like yours actually.

    Though it really sounds more like there’s something wrong with the sixth grade for you. Sixth grade – first incident. Sixth grade camp counselor – second and third incident. Coincidence? I think not!

  3. Jennifer October 27, 2009 at 3:49 pm #

    Horses scare me a little too b/c I have been at camps where some horses got out of hand. How brave you are for getting in a small stall with one!

    Up until about middle school I was afraid of dogs.

  4. Amber from Girl with the Red Hair October 27, 2009 at 4:37 pm #

    I LOVE horses :-)

    I grew up on a farm and had a small Arabian horse for three years, I was devestated when she died. I used to ride her all afternoon, every day!

    I have had some bad riding experiences though, I’ve been bucked off, kicked in the butt which launched me three feet and split my jeans. My brothers horse also bucked me off 3 miles from home once and then ran home without me.

    All that being said, I do love riding horses and I really miss it! I haven’t rode for almost five years now, one day I hope to live a ways out of town with enough property to own a horse again.

    If you’re getting over your fear you should definitely try riding again soon :-)

  5. thankyoumam October 27, 2009 at 5:23 pm #

    I have to say I’m a little afraid of horses too, for similar reasons (though I haven’t been back on a horse since I was 8, I’m not as brave as you!) Their brain size to body size ratio has always been somewhat troubling for me.

    My real fear is snakes – I was a camp counselor too, and I was always in charge of canoeing. One morning I was going out to tow in a bunch of 8 year old boys who couldn’t figure out how to paddle back in and realized I was 3 feet away from a copperhead the size of my upper arm. Almost swore loudly in front of 60 3rd graders and/or flipped my canoe. It was like I had post-traumatic stress disorder the rest of the summer, being all neurotic everywhere I went, screaming at kids every time they moved around canoes, like “OH GOD THERE MIGHT BE A GIANT SNAKE, PANIC!!!!” Good strategy.

  6. fuchsiag October 27, 2009 at 5:37 pm #

    I rode a horse ONCE and I was petrified, even when we started going at a little trot, once it started galloping I had no idea what to do lol. I do love animals – but I’m scared of a lot of things that come out of the sea. A squid or an octopus would be the WORST but I comfort myself knowing I’m not terribly likely to meet either…

  7. Maggie October 27, 2009 at 6:46 pm #

    I mentioned it yesterday but I too am afraid of horses but I don’t really remember a specific traumatizing event. I think they are very pretty, but they really do scare the crap out of me.

    Also, I’m afraid of any dog that comes up past my knees. I always get a sneaking suspicion that they could turn on you at any moment. Plus working with children led me to see one too many dog bites in my day. small ones are still adorable though.

    and snakes. ew. nuff said.

  8. Lisa D October 27, 2009 at 7:47 pm #

    Yep, totally afraid of horses. Bad. I have only rode one once but it was such an awful experience. It was when I was studying abroad & we did this horse ride through the rain forest. I was the only person that hadn’t rode a horse before. So we get out on the trail & the guide tells me to get in front because I have the faster horse.

    Um, what? why would you give the newbie the fastest horse? So yah, the thing would not canter or trot or whatever the hell it was supposed to do and instead it took off. My experience sounds very similar to your first one – we were flying through tree branches & leaves were flying and it was horifying. But super amusing to everyone.

  9. Jessica October 27, 2009 at 8:07 pm #

    Wow I had no idea you were that scared of horses. I’ve never ridden one myself but the fear of being bucked off is really terrifying. I’ll stay on the ground thank you.

  10. mandy October 27, 2009 at 8:39 pm #

    I am not a fan of horses either. They are beautiful to look at but riding them is a whole different ballgame. I’ve had a bad experience on a ride once too. I had no idea what I was doing, I wasn’t comfortable and the horse knew it.

    I am so looking forward to hearing your experience volunteering at this farm though and about all the animals you will be working with.

  11. fritz October 28, 2009 at 7:52 am #

    I LOVE horses, i was that girl growing up, horse posters, horse models, my christmas lists consisted of a horse (complete with adds cut out of the classifieds) and everything else i would need to take care of said horse. when i finally got my wish of my own horse (yes on my 16th birthday-dad said it was cheaper than a car!) i was there every day riding till i couldn’t see. i had terrible experiences-concussions, being stepped on, and being bit, but i wouldn’t change that for the world, mostly because the good experiences totally out weighed the bad ones for me. just the other day i found myself aching to go riding again.

    of course i do HATE snakes.

  12. SoMi's Nilsa October 28, 2009 at 7:55 am #

    After that trio of bad luck horses, I can’t believe you agreed to spend time in a horse’s stall!

    I’m not afraid of anything, per se, but there are a lot of things I won’t do, such as jump out of airplanes, bungee jump, drive race cars and ski.

  13. Matt October 28, 2009 at 10:06 am #

    Maybe just try riding like a really big dog first.

    Baby steps.

  14. Megan/SomewhatVoluble October 28, 2009 at 12:03 pm #

    I owned a quarterhorse once. I was riding her one day, and she was perfectly fine … Then my sister wanted to ride, but only if I rode with her. So, she hopped on back, and we were fine until my sister accidentally kicked her. The horse started bucking and eventually threw us off. I face-planted the gravel, with my sister landing on top of me. I still have a scar on my chin from it. After the incident, I was the only one able to calm the horse down, but I never rode her again. I was terrified. I still think they’re beautiful, though.

    Birds kind of weird me out.

  15. bellerenee October 29, 2009 at 1:48 pm #

    I would be afraid of horses if I were you, too.
    I don’t have many animal phobias. I don’t mind bees or snakes or anything typical… but when Joe and I were swimming with turtles in Barbados, we saw a sting ray. I had a mild panic attack because I could think was, “Steve Irwin died from one of you!”

  16. E.P. October 30, 2009 at 10:55 am #

    I grew up riding horses, so when I was a camp counselor and they stuck me on the crazy horse, I was shaken but could take control of the situation. I cannot imagine not having ever really ridden before and being given a stubborn horse. But I’m happy to hear that your experience on Sunday was a good one! Baby steps.

    Maybe it’s just trail riding that’s the scary part. Sounds like hanging out with the horses isn’t bad.

  17. Little Fish October 30, 2009 at 1:45 pm #

    I am terrified of all insects (except spiders- weird, I know and house flies). Unfortunately, I’m a lot more likely to have a bug in my apartments than you are to have a horse. Either way though phobias suck!

  18. Erin October 30, 2009 at 9:14 pm #

    I have a Belle & Sebastian song running through my head now. It’s called “Judy and the Dream of Horses,” but my version is “Nora and the Fear of Horses.”

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