Tuesday, December 11, 2012
I realized yesterday after talking with my farrier that I have had unrealistic expectations in what would be involved in rehabbng my horse. Of course. Don't we all as horse owners know that most of our horses are the money pit equivalent of a ticking time bomb? At any moment some major health or horse management event will suddenly arise in spite of our near compulsive efforts to make sure e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g is perfect for them and huge amounts of money will fly from our hands and out the window??? Of course we know this.
Horses have been part of civilization for a very long time. In order to survive as a horse owner, we have adapted to the dichotomy of our big, strong animals being one of the most high maintenance, fragile creatures by using the mental defenses of denial to push those thoughts far, far away.
I began to informally study horse and human behavior and propose a new field in the mental health therapy field. It's focus is on treating horse related disorders in humans and their many variations.
The perfectionism compulsion I just described happens to be called Horse Related Perfectionism Disorder (HRPD) in which the sufferer (me!!) is constantly looking for the perfect fix for their lame (or feared to be soon lame, marred, ill horse). This relentless drive for equine perfection in diet, grooming, training, management, facilities, and accessories creates a mental barrier between the reality of 'horse as ticking time bomb' combined with the fear of missing something essential leads to the compulsion to SPEND money thinking we are SAVING money in the long run. This ultimately can lead to Horse Related Financial Disaster if left unchecked. Husbands and boyfriends usually counteract the actions of the HRPD sufferer which can be helpful or, on the other hand, may lead to the need for Horse Owner Couples Therapy. How couples learned to handle this chronic disorder determines the chances of success in their marriage.
This was such a fascinating subject I continued to delve into it and found that HRPD is related to Horse Obsessive Compulsive Disorder with its many variations:
Horse Hoarding Syndrome- a horse person either hoards horses or horse supplies horse tack, or some aspect of horse paraphernalia. My horse hoarding symptoms are showing up now in my vast collection of horse supplements. I am on a quest to collect and know all about horse supplements. I know it but I can't stop it! I am helpless to stop collecting horse supplements.
Horse Owner Hypochondriac- This is a dangerous condition because it often involves vets and expensive emergency after hours farm calls. The owner (often a new to horse ownership person who still has faith in horse vets and the money to spend on them) has the vet out for every little bump or scratch. They pour over horse medical books and imagine as they read of different illnesses or diseases that THEIR horse is developing it. This condition, although dangerous in the beginning is usually self-limiting as the horse owner runs out of money and so the vet calls slow way down. What happens is their horse friends gladly diagnosis and offer treatment plans for their horse. As we all know every horse person has an opinion and are very willing to share it with you- especially if it means telling you that your opinion is wrong! If horse friends are not available than farriers, feed delivery people, tack store clerks or your hay supplier will be glad to diagnosis and offer treatment suggestions for your horse.
Horse Owner Hysteria/Paranoia - can be quite debilitating as it is an anxiety disorder in which the horse owner fears the worst or in some cases fears everyone is out to get her horse. This can be directed at the barn owner where she boards her horse. The person who suffers from this can become quite anxious, fearing the barn owner, behind her back, takes food out of her horses mouth when she is not around. You can imagine the horror she must feel at the very thought! The sufferer of this disorder can not see the fact that her horse is fat and healthy and so must be getting enough to eat. This is closely related to Horse Body Dysmorphic Disorder and Horse Owner Eating Disorder by Proxy. Horse Owner Hysteria/Paranoia can for example, be directed at the horse trainer who she believes beats and tortures her horse in between training sessions. Who has not suspected as much themselves??? A closely related condition is Post Traumatic Horse Professional Disorder in which a horse professional is blamed for all that is 'wrong' in the horse. The hallmark symptom of PTHPD, the horse owner is not able to take any responsibility for their own horse's poor behavior. I can not relate to this because my horses do no wrong and are always perfect angels. :)
As you can see these disorders often over lap and co-exist. Treatment is usually about getting the owner to see reality according to a non- horsey person. This can mean Extended Non-Horse Person Exposure or 12 Step Horse Addiction Programs but mental health professionals complain it is hard to get clients to comply to these treatments. It seems they prefer to stay at the barn with their horses. These horse related disorders (previously known as 'horse-crazy in a less politically correct time) is so wide spread it is almost always necessary to go outside of the horse community to find someone not affected in some way, shape or form. The treatment can be prolonged and refractive and some, if not most horse owners also suffer from Horse Owner Denial Syndrome in which they see nothing wrong with how they act! Scientist are now in the process of studying horse dander and barn environments to see if there is something in the air that causes these disorders to develop on a physical level. One thing is known for sure- the more time spent in a barn the higher your chances are for developing a horse spending compulsive disorder or other horse related disorder! So beware and stay tuned as more if found out on these conditions! Pass along to your horse friends-- they also are likely to be very deep in denial!
Stop by Horse and Pony facebook page for your horse disorder support group.
Free Rein Art Studio for your away from the barn horse fix!
Thanks for stopping by! Sue Steiner
PS Just to cover all bases this blog post was written tongue in cheek (satire). The seed for this came after my time in the barn with my farrier on Dec. 11, 2012 in which we were talking about horse related illnesses and I realized after caring for horses for 20+ years I of course, know deep in my heart they are all ticking time bombs of some health related major incident! And so this blog post came to be. I have since been told there is a serious article out there about real life mental health conditions in which I am not far off from describing. If any of you come about that article please send me the link! I would love to read it. Take care and happy trails to you!!