So-called ‘distracted driving’ laws prohibiting cell phone use while driving are being enacted around the nation, and now it is time for the equine community to take notice, says one equine safety professional.
“It’s important for riders to remember that the horse can be an unpredictable animal,” notes Wayne G. Hipsley, chairman of HorseSafetyUSA.com. “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.” Riding a horse is like operating a vehicle, distractions can be the cause of serious injuries, and it is well documented the cell phone is a distraction while operating a car and truck.
Hipsley pointed to 12 states and the District of Columbia that prohibit drivers from using hand-held cell phones while driving. “If that is important when only one mind is involved [with driving], then it’s important when two minds—the rider and the horse—are involved.” Therefore, HorseSafetyUSA recommends not using any form of communication device while participating in equestrian activities with a horse and pony.
A few rules for riders to keep in mind:
1. Never talk or text while mounted or driving 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 must be carried in an easily accessed, weather-proof padded case to protect the rider from becoming injured due to physical impact upon the phone.
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 numbers for emergency contacts, should a rider fall, and need medical assistance when acting alone.
A recognized equine safety professional for nearly 25 years, Hipsley is the lead author along with of the upcoming publication Equine Risk Management and Safety. The manual is the first volume in The Equine Safety Library to be offered by HorseSafetyUSA.com in both e-book and softbound editions. HorseSafetyUSA.com, founded in 2011, is dedicated to improving the safety of all aspects of the professional and amateur levels of the equine industry and equestrian sports through education, training, certification, and accreditation.