Chiefs Safety Eric Berry Faces Fear of Horses by Drawing Ponies, Playing With Horse Puppets

eric-berryThe Kansas City Chiefs are exorcising years of demons with their miraculous start to the 2013 season. What better time, then, for Chiefs safety Eric Berry to channel that positive energy and revisit his intense fear of horses.

Yes, horses. The 6-foot, 211-pound safety says he’s been deathly afraid of horses ever since he was bit during a childhood visit to a petting zoo.

“I trusted [that horse],” Berry said of the incident. “And I was really betrayed.”

Berry made headlines in 2012 for his unusual behavior at Arrowhead Stadium when the Chiefs trotted out Warpaint, the team’s traditional horse mascot.

Equinophobia is a very real condition, and Berry isn’t alone, as Twilight stars Robert Pattinson and Kristin Stewart reportedly have no time for horses in their lives, either. So that’s good company.

But with the recent revival of football success in Kansas City, NFL Films revisited Berry’s phobia of horses. This time, the emphasis was on healing, recovery and a whole lot of weird methods to help Berry get over his fear. In a watered-down form of graduated exposure therapy, Berry worked his way up to a reunion with Warpaint by drawing and coloring pictures of ponies, playing pin the tail on the donkey alone, looking at paintings of horses, watching horses on TV and playing with horse puppets — exactly like Freud and Jung wrote it up.

When he was ready, or when he figured he’d have to keep playing with horse puppets until he was, Berry met Warpaint at Arrowhead Stadium, and the two key members of the Chiefs’ current success had a heart-to-heart at midfield. Berry apologized for his comments about Warpaint on live TV, and Warpaint — in his infinite horse wisdom — forgave Berry for his years of mistrust.

Was Berry healed by the experiment?

“I’m good for another 10 years,” he said.

Close enough.

Photo via Twitter/@FauxAndyReid

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