Greg Scannell, CSP •

Smartphone Users: Don't Text and Ride

The 21st century equestrian is a distracted one. As hand-held cell phone bans for drivers become ubiquitous across the nation, it is this horseman’s opinion that riders should take note. Generation X successfully championed the cause of banning public smoking, a formerly social normality. The pandemic of the millennials is the smart phone; on planes, trains, automobiles and yes even on horseback, teens and twenty-something’s are lighting up—their smart phones.

One study reports that on average, 11 teens are killed each day by smart phone distracted auto-incidents. Another study reports the use of a smart phone makes the driver 23 times more likely to be involved in an accident. If such accidents pervade the roads, it must be certain the same phenomenon is being seen in the ring and on the trail. “It’s important for riders to remember that the horse can be an unpredictable animal,” says one equestrian safety professional: “If the rider is distracted by using his or her cell phone, and the horse reacts to something in its environment, serious injuries may be the result.”

Equestrians recognize the similarities between riding and driving, distractions in either scenario can be the cause of serious injuries. To date, 12 states have prohibited drivers from using hand-held cell phones while driving. Consider the idea that riding involves two minds, horse and rider, and thus should require more focused communication. Although bans on smart phone use with equestrian sports will be hard won, the responsibility will fall on the individual level. Out side of show fair grounds, there are few places that such behavior can be socially policed. Take the pledge, and vow to be a phone free rider; you owe it to your horsemanship.

In addition, review the following rules for smart phone use with horses:

  1. Never talk or text while mounted or riding a horse.
  2. Do not use a cell phone while participating in any equestrian competition.
  3. Always carry a cell phone when recreational riding. The cell phone is to be used exclusively in cases of emergency.
  4. When riding alone, the rider should carry the cell phone on their person. Should the rider fall from the horse the cell phone should be carried in an easily accessed, weather-proof case.
  5. Never carry the cell phone on the saddle or saddle bags in case the horse and rider become separated.
  6. Use voice mail to state you are currently riding—including where—and you will call back once you are dismounted. This statement becomes a joint safety message to notify people of your activities and whereabouts causing the delay to immediately respond to their call.
  7. Set-up speed dial In-Case of-Emergency (ICE) numbers in your phones favorites.
  8. Be cognizant of walking and talking on the phone while around horses. Proximity to a horse, especially the hind quarters should require your full attention.
Works Cited
  • “2011 Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
  • “Distracted Driving 2011.” National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
  • “Distracted Driving – What Research Shows and What States Can Do.” Governors Highway Safety Association.
  • 2011.Hipsley, Wayne. “Cell Phone Use: Warning Issued for Riders | The Horsemen's Corral.” Cell Phone Use: Warning Issued for Riders | The Horsemen's Corral. The Horsemen's Coral, 2013. Web. 02 June 2014.

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