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.
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.)