Keep your cell phone on silent when you’re on horseback. The same goes for people who stick around the arena. Find out about leaving the barn number instead of your cell number as an emergency contact for the babysitter. Just reaching to answer your phone diverts your attention as you ride, which can be risky, although we realize there are situations that demand it. Just remember that when you’re riding, you never know what can happen that will demand your full attention.
Two-way radios - both those that are part of cell phones and those that are just radios - have become a major part of horse-show life, but again, use them only when you have two feet on the ground. If your trainer wants to use a phone or two-way radio to talk with you while you’re in the warm-up arena, consider wearing a headset. From the moment you start fishing the phone out of your pocket, you’re not concentrating on your riding.
We realize that having a phone on a trail ride can make a huge difference in getting help - and when help will arrive - if something does go wrong, and we encourage trail riders to carry one. However, consider it an emergency tool for calling out, not a regular phone that must be answered when it rings.
As a matter of fact, we’re so sure that cell phones are important on trail rides that we recommend you investigate at least getting an ”emergency” phone. This basically means you pay a higher rate for each call you make and a lower monthly fee, based on the assumption you’ll only use it for emergencies. Another option is to get just a cell phone - without service - and keep it charged. In most areas and cases, a charged phone will still go through to a 911 emergency line.
There are neat-looking cell-phone holders that attach to your saddle, but we’d avoid them. If there’s an accident, and you and your horse become separated, he shouldn’t be the one with the phone.
We’d avoid fanny packs and back pockets for carrying phones. Phones should be placed on your side or the front. If you fall, a rigid phone against your back may injure your spine.
Many people will find that their regular, vertical phone holsters bang on the saddle, and prefer one that stows the phone horizontally, like the AQHA’s leather Fastdraw Cell Phone holster ($46 from www.quarterhorseoutfitters.com, 806-376-5181).
Cashel Company makes an ankle holster that includes an ID pocket and a money pocket ($28.50 www.cashelcompany.com, 800-333-2202), and Dover Saddlery sells one that attaches to your upper arm ($24.90 www.doversaddlery.com, 800-989-1500). In the fall and winter, a jacket pocket may do.