How I Learned Answering a Cell Phone While Schooling a Horse Was Very Bad

Wild Horses (The Rolling Stones song)
Image via Wikipedia

My ringtone for all barn friends (and vet) is Wild Horses, by The Rolling Stones.  My own private joke.  Wild horses?  Couldn’t drag me away?  From the barn?  Maybe you had to be there.

Tiny was a lovely lower level dressage horse, a giant pony: draft cross.  You could do nearly anything on Tiny.  I stood on his butt once, to illustrate this point.  Big Name Dressage instructor yelled: “Get down!! You’re going to get yourself killed!!” while Tiny cocked a hoof and sighed.

He was also incredibly smart.  Smart enough to hide how smart he was.  He was the only horse I felt safe enough to answer the phone on while actually schooling.  Since my horse friends were usually at the barn at the same time as I was, it would only ring under dire circumstances.

We’d be schooling, and Mick Jagger would suddenly wail Wiiiiiiild horses, couldn’t drag me awaaaaay…

Responsibly, I’d pull Tiny over, (arena etiquette for the non-horsey: you go to the center of the ring.)  Park. Answer phone.  Listen.  Talk.  Hang up.  Go back to schooling.  I ignored all other ring tones.  Over a 3 month time span, it happened three times.

The fourth time we were cantering: Mick managed to get out “Wiiiiiiild horses….”.

Before I could cue him, Tiny stopped dead, put himself on the buckle, walked to the center of the arena, hung his head, and cocked a hoof, so I could answer the phone.

Whoops.  While humorous, there was a snag.  Tiny was not my horse.  Bad Jane.  Bad bad Jane!  I stopped answering the phone, and when it rang, I was ready and kept him going.

Another 3 months go by.

I was on a catch ride in the same arena with Lily, who was schooling Tiny. We were having fun, riding around each other, calling out jokes and helping each other.

Tiny fussed about departing round and forward into the canter, Lily corrected him politely and asked again. He powered into a round and forward canter.  Lily cheerfully patted him, calling out: good job Tiny!  Good boy!

Atta boy, Tiny!, I yell.

Then, um, my phone rang.

Wiiiiiiiild horses…..

Tiny stopped dead, nearly unseating Lily, and walked to the center of the arena, where he tried to drop his head and cock a hoof.  Lily was puzzled and upset.  He’d been doing so well!  This was major disobedience.  Tiny was not disobedient.  She’d already started to correct him with the vigor the situation seemingly required, before I could get within shouting distance.

“STOP”, I yell.  This completes Lily’s Twilight Zone experience.  Why would I ever yell at her?  Tiny isn’t my horse.

It’s humiliating to have to explain to a horse owner that you taught their horse to instantly drop everything, and safely park, when ever The Rolling Stones begin to sing.

I told her I had quit my behavior, but in his moment of pride, it probably triggered Tiny into obeying.  We stared at each other.  Looked at Tiny, who was now catching some Zzz’s.  And burst out laughing.

We spent the rest of the schooling ride singing Wiiiiiiild horses, gratingly off-key, at the top of our lungs.  We figured it would desensitize him.

Tiny never stopped at my ringtone again.

(I think we broke his ears.)

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10 thoughts on “How I Learned Answering a Cell Phone While Schooling a Horse Was Very Bad

  1. Winter

    We had quite an adventure when my daughter called me. Her ring is angry barking dogs.

    Smokey didn’t relax and head to the center. He teleported to the gate.

    My quantum horse.

    Reply
  2. Susan

    This reminds me of when I got back into riding as an adult. I took flat lessons from a rather well known instructor in my area with really quiet, well schooled horses. When he would call out WALK TROT CANTER, I was sure it was my quiet, firm leg that made this horse respond correctly…..until….one day the instructor yelled “Cut through the middle and change directions”. I was not sure what he meant, however, my school horse immediately turned left at the next corner and crossed the ring with a straight diagonal line up to the other corner and turned right..we were now going in the opposite direction without any instruction from me!!!! Made me rethink my riding skills!!!

    Reply
  3. Cyndi

    What a great story! What a smart horse (for better or worse)!
    Isn’t if funny when we inadvertently teach something to a horse, dog, husband, child and realize at a later time how inappropriate that ‘learning’ was?!
    One of my horses was very nicely voice trained. When I was selling him a prospective buyer was having some difficulty. My guy was going kinda forward. From my point on the ground I said, ‘Whoa’ – he stopped. On a dime. The prospective buyer did not. She didn’t come off, but came damn close to it. Oh well, there went my chance of selling him to her!

    Reply
  4. Horseypants

    This is so easy to fix. All you need to do is teach him the canter depart to another song–“Bootylicious” comes to mind–then call her at the appropriate moment.

    Reply
  5. Liz Goldsmith

    See, I knew verbal cues were helpful with downward transitions.

    Of course my ringtone, Call to Post, is probably NOT the right one for an OTTB. No wonder Freedom got a bit excited the first few times he heard it!

    Reply
  6. Kimberly

    LOL That’s hysterical! Had to keep my chuckles to myself though because there’s no way I could explain this to my non-horsey hunny without telling him the whole story.

    Reply

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