When Ali Harris thinks she’s seen a tractor, her heart races and her hands shake for fear that if one gets too close, she’ll be run over.
The 55-year-old, who lives in the Cotswolds, is known for taking six miles of detours when walking her dogs to avoid them.
While she’s fine with seeing one in the safety of her own car, the sight of one triggers her phobia.
As a result, Ali just walks her dogs, Labrador crosses Ruby and Dot once a week and leaves the rest of the outings to her husband Chris, 70, who along with daughter Alix, 28, are quite good at handling Ali’s fear. finds funny. .
Ali, a private investigator, said: “If for some reason there is a tractor in the field, I run ten miles or take a detour and avoid the field where the tractor is. It takes me hours longer to get home .
“I think they’re coming to drive me.”
She knows it’s an unusual phobia, but she can’t seem to get rid of it. Her reaction when she sees or hears a tractor is the same as when she moved to the Cotswolds from Witney, Oxfordshire, 12 years ago.
She believes her fear stems from the 1978 version of the thriller film The 39 Steps, in which the main character, a spy, is chased by a plane in a field while trying to escape from the police.
She said, “I know tractors don’t fly, I’m not that weird, but I’m like ‘Oh my god they’re going to get me’ when I see one – like the guy in the movie with the plane.”
When Ali, who has no other phobias, sees a tractor, she panics.
She said: “My heart is really starting to pump and I’m getting really scared. And I’m a little shaky until I know I’m out of the way.
“When I hear the tractor, that’s the first thing that worries me.
“I have pretty good hearing and I have to look like an owl whose head turns to see if there’s a tractor in one of the fields.
“Well, then I’ll search the fields to see if there’s really a tractor around.
“If I see one in the field next to me, or actually come through the fence in the field I’m in, I’ll talk to my dogs in a high-pitched voice and have them come with me so we can escape.” Or I try to get them under a tree so that we almost hide from them.”
Ali has tried to avoid the vehicles by walking at different times of the day, but she says it is “unpredictable” when tractors are around.
Ali lives in the countryside and regularly encounters tractors on the street, but she is not worried about that.
She said: “When I’m on the field I feel quite vulnerable, but in the car I feel good, I think because I’m in control.”
When Ali explains what happened to her retired husband Chris and daughter Alix, they find it funny.
She said, “They think it’s very, very strange, they don’t all get it.”
Ali refuses to seek professional help for her phobia. She said: “I don’t think I’ll ever get hypnotherapy – I’m just walking the dogs less regularly to avoid seeing a tractor.
“I see it as a strange quirk in my nature.”