Naturally Horses

Living with O.C.E.A.N. Syndrome
More horse fun

Naturally Horses Home
Forthcoming Events
Write-ups of Past Events
Natural Horse Resources
Horses & Tack for Sale
Contact Us
Register to Receive Group E-mails
Courses & Participants
People and Horses


Very little is known about O.C.E.A.N Syndrome, but it is hoped that further interest can be generated from researchers involved in the equine and psychological sciences and that this outline will enable readers to begin to identify similar symptoms in their own families. As is the case of similar conditions, knowledge is power and with increased knowledge comes the ability to cope.

Obsessive Compulsive Equine Attachment Neurosis Syndrome (O.C.E.A.N.S) is most frequently although not exclusively diagnosed in the female, and can manifest itself anytime from birth to extreme old age.  Symptoms may appear any time and may even go dormant in the late teens, only to re-emerge in later years.  A fairly typical case would initially show the syndrome in its active form for about ten years, beginning some time in mid to late childhood.  Dormancy often then occurs for a varying length of time, with the syndrome reoccurring at a later date, at which time it generally become a chronic, life-long condition.

Symptoms vary widely in both type and degree of severity.  However, certain key points may be used to enable family members to make an accurate diagnosis.

The afflicted individual:

  1. Can smell mouldy hay at ten paces, but can't tell whether bread has gone stale until it turns bright green

  2. Finds the occasional "Buck and Fart" session hugely entertaining when performed by a horse, but severely chastises her husband for similar antics

  3. Will spend hours cleaning and conditioning her tack, but wants to eat on paper plates so there is no washing-up

  4. Considers equine gaseous exhaust to be a fragrance

  5. Enjoys mucking out four stables twice a day, but denies that the kitchen floor needs cleaning more frequently than once a month

  6. Will spend an hour combing and trimming an equine mane, but wears a hat so she doesn't waste time brushing her own hair

  7. Will dig through manure piles daily looking for worms, but has no intention of going fishing.

  8. Twice a week will spend an hour scrubbing buckets and troughs, but has a problem cleaning the bath and the toilet bowl

  9. Will pick a horse's nose, and call it cleaning, but becomes verbally and/or physically violent when her husband picks his.

  10. Can sit through a four-hour session of a ground work clinic, but is unable to make it through a half-hour replay of highlights of the World Cup.

The spouse of an afflicted individual:

  1. Must come to terms with the fact there is no cure.  The syndrome may be genetic or caused by the inhaling of manure particles which, it has been proposed, have an adverse effect on female hormones

  2. Must adjust the family budget to include equine items - hay, livery, farrier services, riding boots and clothes, supplements, tack, equine masseuse and acupuncturist - as well as veterinary expenses and insurance.  Once you have identified a monthly figure, never look at it again.  Doing so will cause tightness in your chest, nausea and pain

  3. Must realize that your spouse has no control over this affliction.  More often than not, she will deny a problem even exists

  4. Must realise that there are strong indications of a genetic component of this syndrome, especially along the female line.  In other words, your children are highly likely to become victim to this syndrome.

  5. Must form a support group.  You need to know you're not alone - and there's no shame in admitting your wife has a problem.  A typical support group, for instance, involves men who truly enjoy Harley Davidsons, four-day weekends and lots of beer.

Now you can better see how O.C.E.A.N.S. affects countless households in this country and abroad.  It knows no racial, ethnic or religious boundaries.  It is a syndrome that will be always be difficult to treat because those most affected are in denial and therefore, not interested in a cure.

Diligence in research is essential in order to find information that will make it easier for the families and caretakers of the afflicted to cope on a day-to-day basis without causing unwarranted distress and hysteria in the victims.  Initial indications are that statements such as "Don't worry, I'll do overtime to pay the vet's bills" and "I've got a pay rise so you can buy the lorry/trailer/4WD/saddle you want" will cause a rapid reversal of mood in most victims, but must be followed through with concrete evidence soon afterwards.

These definitions were passed to us without acknowledging the original author.  If they are someone's copyright, then we apologize and will acknowledge it.

More horse fun