Where Not To Carry Your Cell Phone While Horseback

Posted in: Ranch Life

When you’re traveling through Cody, Wyoming, you should stop at the Dug Up Gun Museum. It features more than 1,500 specimens of firearms that have been — literally– dug up. Looking at some of these firearms with three rounds still in the chamber and rusted at full-cock, my imagination takes off and tries to fill in the blanks. “Who was carrying it? Should there have been a skeleton nearby? Were the first three rounds enough?”

It makes me wonder if, in a dozen more decades, someone will start a Dug Up Cell Phone Museum. Most of us who have spent a little time in the great outdoors aboard some kind of jostling transportation have probably contributed at least one device to this chapter of history.

I carry my cellphone for those times when I just can’t make out the sign language of my gathering partner from half a mile away. Or in the unlikely event my horse spooks at something really scary, like a gopher hole and falls in a badger hole, and I end up with a broken leg AND cell phone service (being prepared involves imagining far-fetched situations). Or in the very likely event that I want to add to Instagram’s collection of photos of cows viewed through horses’ ears. If it weren’t for these situations, I’d leave my smartphone in the pickup.

The question is–how do you avoid turning your $400 smartphone into an artifact?

I usually carry my cell phone in my back pocket. When I’m horseback or 4-wheeler-back, that’s a bad idea for obvious reasons. I’ve lost two cell phones–yes, I’m a slow learner–using this proven method. By-the-way, the GPS location service on your smartphone can probably get you to the pasture in which you lost the phone, but beyond that, you’re on your own.

I have tried sticking it in my boot, thinking if it bounced out of my boot it would get caught by my pants. (I’m not sure what I’d be doing that would involve enough  bouncing to get my phone over the top of my boot, since my ankles are considerably less bouncy than my rear, and my boots are much deeper than my pockets–in every possible way.)

The boot-as-hiding-place must work better for guns or knives or people with smaller calves. The phone chafed and rubbed on my ankle, so after about five minutes it was back in my back pocket. See, slow learner.

For those of us lucky enough to get to wear bras, it would seem that we have a built-in pocket, perfect for carrying a cellphone. But either my phone is too big or my bra isn’t big enough, and my phone causes odd corners in places that should have smooth curves. The corners also poke into rather sensitive flesh. And then there’s the impossibility of using a cell phone that’s been tucked securely into your bra on a 85-plus-degree day. You might as well dip it in the horsetank and try to make a call. Photos from that situation also have an ethereal, soft-focused, hazy glow about them.

Of course, others have thought of this quandary before, and actually created devices just for this purpose. There’s the belt clip with the Velcro closure. You have to actually remember to put it on before you leave the house, though, or keep it attached to your saddle. And this girl who continues to trust her back pockets just can’t seem to trust that the leather pouch with a Velcro closure will keep her phone secure.

There’s the ankle wallet, which is a canvas pocket that wraps around your ankle. Maybe it’s a perfect solution, but having grown up riding through pine trees that are far enough apart for my horse to plow confidently forward, but just don’t give when it comes to the rider’s knees and ankles, I don’t want anything strapped to the side of my leg.

They make pommel saddlebags, but again with the remembering to use them.

There are numerous creative solutions online–like a plastic device that clips onto your phone and slips over the saddle horn.

Of course, with anything that clips to your saddle, whither thou horse goest, so goes your cellphone.

So the only solution I’ve come up with that actually keeps my phone secure and doesn’t give me blisters, and will still be with me if my horse and I part company, is one I hesitate to share. But in the interest of solving a universal dilemma for those who are united in a dependence on, or fondness for, the equine species, I set aside my embarrassment and fear of judgment and share my solution.

If I know I’m going to be jostling my back pockets some, and didn’t bring along any handy cellphone-carrying devices, I stick my phone down the back of my pants. There, I said it.

My unmentionables prevent the skin contact that would give it the “glow” that I keep thinking will ruin it, or at least render it useless until it dries out. My jeans are usually tight enough around the pocket area that there’s nowhere for the phone to go but up, and my belt keeps it from going there.

You just want to make sure that you’re someplace private when you remove it from its hiding place.


Posted in: Ranch Life

About Maria Tibbetts

I grew up on a ranch in the panhandle of Nebraska. Both of my grandfathers raised Quarter horses and before they knew they would be related someday, broke horses at Fort Robinson for the Army. I showed horses in 4-H and AQHA growing up. I'm...

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