A Straight Dope Classic from Cecil's Storehouse of Human Knowledge

What's equus eroticus all about?

February 11, 2000

Dear Cecil:

In his book The Sex Life of the Foot and Shoe, William A. Rossi writes, "Foot fetishism or intense foot partialism is common enough to have earned itself a medical term, equus eroticus." Erotic horse?! Is Rossi kidding? How is "erotic horse" relevant to feet? I simply do not get it. Cecil, please explain.

Cecil replies:

There does seem to be some confusion in the world of BDSM (bondage-discipline-sadomasochism) about the meaning of equus eroticus. I found only a few references to it in the sense of foot fetishism, none of which shed any light on the term's origin. (One fellow claimed that Equus was a Greek god known to be fleet of foot, but I found no corroboration for this and it seems doubtful — equus is a Latin word, after all.) But who cares? The more common and interesting meaning is "ponyplay" — that is, an erotic scenario in which you treat your partner like a horse. If you're into props, which seem to be a big part of the BDSM scene, you can rig up your pal (or have him/her rig you) in a full leather harness, complete with blinders, bridle, and bit.

I know what you're thinking: Whoa! You can have show ponies, ponies pulling their masters in carts, and of course your basic horsey rides. There's even a magazine called Equus Eroticus for those wanting to give free rein to their passion.  Suffice it to say you're not going to get the Boy Scouts selling subscriptions door to door.

Too weird? I'm not claiming it's the ideal thing for a first date. But ponyplay buffs say it's all in fun. (For more info, see the ponyplay FAQ — there's a FAQ for everything on the Internet — here.) Me, I'm to the point where nothing surprises me. Once I joked about somebody coming up with a Web site for appendectomy-scar fetishists. Soon after I got an E-mail. "If you ever do find an appendectomy-scar site," it read, "let me know."

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