The Kansas City Chiefs are exorcising years of demons with their miraculous start to the 2013 season. What better time 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 in his fear. "Twilight" stars Robert Pattinson and Kristin Stewart reportedly have no time for horses in their lives, either.
But with the recent revival of football success in Kansas City, NFL Films decided to revisit Berry’s phobia of horses. The emphasis of the film was on Berry’s healing and recovery, incorporating a whole lot of unconventional methods to help the NFL star 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.
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. 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.