• Sue Steiner

Horse Spending Compulsive Disorder and other horse related mental conditions.


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 su