In last week’s blog I wrote a paragraph about how I had a fear of horses. I don’t keep it a secret and I am man enough to say so. I think of myself as a pretty sound, stable person. I don’t suffer from anxiety or depression. I am lucky in that way. I think every human being has some kind of disorder and everyone deals with it in a different way. As silly as it may sound, I have a fear of horses or otherwise called Equinophobia!
Bats, mice and snakes I have no problems with, but put a horse in front of me and watch a grown man cry! I can be around horses, but prefer not to be. When I am I find my heart racing, I start to breath heavy, I have been known to start sweating. I have experienced panic attacks and extreme anxiety at times. I get very nervous and I want to get away from the horse. It’s really strange and embarrassing to talk about. I can tell you exactly why I have this fear, I know when it started and why I continue to have this fear.
When I was in seventh grade, one of my best friends lived on a farm and I would stay overnight at his place often. I loved going to his farm, helping milk the cows early in the morning and just doing farm chores with him and his family. They also had a couple of horses and one day my friend’s dad got me on a horse. I think that was the first time I had ever been on a horse. When I threw my leg over to sit in the saddle the horse took off on its own very fast and ran me along the fence post trying to get me off of him. I had never been so scared. It didn’t end well with me falling off the horse. I remember my friend and his family laughing at me. I didn’t think it was very funny.
I was on a horse once after that many years later and that wasn’t a good experience either. Another scary event with horses happened at a parade my family was at. The Budweiser Clydesdales were in the parade and I was sitting on the curb when the Clydesdales were turning the corner in front of us and were spooked and ran up into the crowd. A few people were hurt, I was very close to them and it scared me to death. I will never forget that. Lots of commotion and confusion around us. Lots of people screaming. It is etched into my mind forever.
I have friends that have horses and over the years I have tried hard to be normal around these large creatures. Some visits with horses go ok, but others just freak me out. I must say covering rodeos lately have helped me with my disorder. I really don’t know why, but when I see very young kids on these magnificent animals, I say to myself if they are comfortable with them why can’t I be.
This past week I was at the Stevens County fair in Morris. I was working and walking past the large horse barn. I stopped in front of the building and just stared at the sign on the building which said Horse Barn. I stood there which seemed like forever, wanting to go in and face my fear head on. I said, “I can do this!” I said to myself, “I want to be comfortable standing next to a horse! I hate the feeling I get when I am around horses. I want it to end.”
So I took a deep breath asked God to help me and walked into the building. First thing I noticed was there were a lot of horses in the building, but all of them were in pens. Knowing they were all penned up made it easier. I walked up to the first pen and stayed at a distance looking at the horse. He was completely still, wasn’t moving at all. A horse friend told me once that horses sleep standing up. I thought that was amazing that they can do that. So I thought he might be sleeping. As I stood there I realized that I wasn’t breathing heavy and my heart wasn’t racing, even though I was quite nervous. I started talking to the horse quietly, so as not to wake him if he was sleeping. It felt good! Then he turned his head and looked at me and started walking closer. I backed up. My heart started racing and breathing became difficult. My mind screamed, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me”
I can do this! I walked forward and reached out my hand and touched him! And I said “Hi, can I take a selfie with you?” I think he nodded his head. So I took a selfie with my heart pounding! All of a sudden we were friends! It felt good. I didn’t stand there very long. I exited the horse barn feeling good about what I just did. Baby steps are good, but the struggle remains real! I then walked next door to the petting zoo and spent a half hour feeding, petting and making friends with a large camel. I enjoyed every minute with my camel friend and he even smiled when I took a selfie. Two very different reactions I had with these large animals. I don’t get it.