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Horsemobility

2nd of December 2000

The other day I saw a strange sight in Chipperfield — a girl was riding her horse and she was on her mobile phone as well. What could she have been saying? ‘Hi, Mum; its me. Im on the horse; weve reached Langley Road; I should be home for tea at about 4 oclock. Any messages? Byeee.
Maybe horse riders often use their mobiles when out riding but I had not come across this phenomenon before.
I had assumed that people ride in order to get away from the chores and trials of daily life, including the phone. There must be a special satisfaction in viewing the world 6 feet higher than us earth bound mortals, who only have 2 legs, 2 or 4 wheels and not the benefit of 4 legs. They can see things over fences and hedges not available to the rest of us except from the top of a double decker bus and there arent many of those in Chipperfield. They can go at a pace set by the horse and for them the too-late traffic has to give way. Away from and above it all! What bliss! One would have thought that the phone was an intrusion into this elevated world of serenity.
But maybe this is the way things have to go. Will they invent phones embedded in riders helmets so as to allow them to keep two hands on the reins? And will Brussels invent a law forbidding people to ride a horse one handed?
But spare a thought for the horse. We once had a donkey that was supposed to be as gentle as a lamb and quite safe for children to ride. Unfortunately it could not tolerate the sound of bells; obviously not a Cockney nag. Any tintinnabulation translated it into a child-devouring monster, impossible to control. We witnessed this at the village fete when the Morris Men arrived at the pitch near to the one where the donkey was performing.
Suppose the horse did not like the phone ringing in its ears. Suppose it misinterpreted the signal — 2 rings, turn right; 3 rings, canter; 5 rings, gallop; but perhaps horses cant count. Or suppose the rider unintentionally used a word on the phone that meant something particular to the horse, like charge or stand on its two hind legs or roll over? It is a depressing thought that even this noble animal could be wired to respond to signals relayed by satellite, probably originating from the rider on its own back. Surely neither rider, nor horse could be reduced to this mindless state.
What did C S Lewis say? ‘These small and perishable bodies we now have were given to us as ponies are given to schoolboys. We must learn to manage; not that we may some day be free of horses altogether but that some day we may ride bare back, confident and rejoicing, those greater mounts, those winged, shining and world shaking horses which perhaps even now expect us with impatience, pawing and
snorting in the heavenly stables John King

 
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