Despite infinite definitions as to practice and appeal, pony play is really a simple, self-defined term, the act of playing at being a pony. This very loose definition leaves further clarification up to the participants as well as declaring its primary purpose, play. In one way or another, it expresses itself recreationally. Occasionally, outsiders fear that pony play involves biological equines, though of course it never does. One restriction that is always in place is prohibition of zoophilia. Pony play is not an expression of that particular interest. Of course, the kinky nature of pony play means that other restrictions apply, such as no minors, no intoxication, no non-consensual activity etc., though these restrictions are more a matter of ethics and less of definition. Pony play is an adult activity practiced by consenting, human adults.
In the common, kinky lexicon, pony play denotes a form of power exchange often expressed through elements of training-oriented play where one party assumes the role of a trainer and the other assumes the role of a horse, or pony. Players' other fetishes are commonly integrated with pony play, the most prevalent being fetishes for a certain material, BDSM (bondage, discipline, dominance and submission, and sadomasochism), exhibitionism, and objectification.
Most erotic human equine photography and videography show pony boys and girls in leather or latex gear and, unlike most elements of pornography, this certainly carries over into the real world. Genuine, leather horse tack adapts well as pony play and bondage gear. Human ponies are widely known to don latex bodysuits as a second "pony skin." Lycra is also used as a skin, especially in the interests of modesty or to express specific equine breeds or coat colors. Other items like boots, corsets, and lingerie made of a fetish material further allow the players to indulge in their fetishes. Trainer attire also indulges fetish interests, via leather gloves, latex riding habit, lycra jodhpurs, or anything else the players may find provocative.
The potential for power exchange between human pony and trainer is undeniable. This dominant-submissive dynamic plays out to various degrees as the pony is more or less under the control of the trainer, though it can be a little hard to tell with some ponies who enjoy a struggle. Some players see themselves as partners working towards a common goal. Others are unquestionably locked in a hierarchy with the trainer making all decisions and firmly directing the process.
Pony play relationships with an emphasis on power exchange leave an opening for more discipline and pain play than one focusing on pure training or role play. Discipline practiced in a training or role play relationship can seem almost like human animal abuse-at least aesthetically. However, whips, quirts, riding crops, endurance bondage, and other forms of BDSM punishment are quite easily worked into the darker forms of pony play. Other dynamic relationships may prefer a more loving discipline, meant to improve behavior rather than work up endorphins. Some choose to include only occasional power exchange in their pony play, just as a way to spice things up. Others may do just the opposite, enjoying a kinky relationship that is occasionally peppered with pony play as an aesthetic choice, rather than for goal-oriented training.
Some players enjoy the reduction of a cognizant, capable human to that of a dumb beast reliant upon a superior human for all care and direction. The desire for objectification is often enjoyed through the imposition of certain limitations. Most, if not all ponies, are denied human faculties for the purpose of authenticity as well as creating the proper head space for the pony. For example, human ponies are not usually allowed the convenience of speech. Human ponies are also objectified by being used as beasts of burden or displayed as beautiful creatures meant to delight their trainers--and any observing crowds! Displaying a human pony augments the glory and credibility of the trainer.
Various kinds of roles apply to all relationship dynamics. Roles may be chosen from any interest, but are most often chosen with either a bio-equestrian theme such as Rodeo, Dressage, Reining, Gymkana, Hunter-Jumper, Cart, Work horse and other types. Some may take other interests or fetishes to blend with the pony play such as belly dance, French maid, or age play. These apply mainly to the role play type of pony. However, the idea of roles my also be within the context of Dominant/submissive or whatever your fantasy determines.
No matter what one's particular interests are, most pony players can start off with the same generic training program. This will not only help determine training techniques and discover new interests, but will also build up the pony's stamina, help the pony get used to the tack, and allow the trainer to begin defining his or her style. Before beginning training, new players should be aware of the potential risks and how to minimize them. As with any physical activity, it's best to consult professional personnel before beginning an exercise program. Pony play is just that, exercise. Training is an exercise in fitness. The pony who wishes to get the most out of his or her training will begin a workout program outside of the training session to make sure that he or she is up to the challenge. A conscientious trainer will also take note of the pony's physical condition and ask for information about limitations such as old sports injuries, high blood pressure, etc. before commencing training to make sure not to over work the pony. Beginning players frequently underestimate the physical demands of the play. So, know your limits and stay within them.
As with any type of adult play, all involved parties should agree upon a safe word as part of the negotiation process. Some players prefer a clear safe action that will not require the pony to break character by speaking, even though the safe action usually means something along the lines of, "I need to talk to you" or "something is not going right." Stamping the hooves in a predetermined way, stopping and standing still, humming a song, or grunting twice are common safe actions. One of the benefits a safe action has over a safe word is that the pony can communicate even if gagged with a bit.
Before beginning a training session, the pony should warm up with some light movement exercises, maybe even limber up with a few stretches before being the play. The whole body should be readied for exercise, with special attention being paid to the legs and hips. Water, healthy treats, and shade, or a blanket in cold weather, should be available not only for the pony, but for the trainer. Think ahead to have everything necessary for the session; before, during and after, ready to go.
While training is best when directed towards a certain goal, like learning to pull a cart or preparing for a show, it is also important to develop the relationship between the pony and trainer as well. That may mean spending some time just leading the pony around. Generally the pony learns body language pretty quickly. The trainer must know what cues to give the pony and do it consistently. The most effective form of training is to select one method or combination of methods and stick with it, though certain ponies may be more responsive to certain types of cues. There is no one right way. Try reading through some bio-equine training sites to develop methods that work for you and your pony.
It helps to have an outline of the scene you plan to execute, at least in your head, before you begin the scene. Keep in mind a warm up and cool down are usually good ideas as well as aftercare and a check-in review of how the scene went for both of you afterward.
While it is possible to train with no gear at all, most players will want at least some gear. Not only does it look sexy and appealing, but it helps to put everyone in the mood and in many cases is just plain practical. A few useful items to consider for your starter kit could include the following:
- A bit or gag Some sort of item that can be put into the mouth gives something to attach the reins and lead to. While these can be attached to a collar, the feeling is not as equestrian. Neither is the neck-or the leather strap around the neck-as sensitive as the mouth, which can make it more difficult for the pony to interpret physical commands. Metal gags should be wrapped to prevent them damaging the teeth.
- A lead rope and/or lunging line A lead of some type will help the pony learn different gaits as the trainer guides the pony through the movements along with voice and physical cues. The trainer can stand in the center of an open area and direct the pony in a circle, using a long whip to correct errors and make the objective clear.
- Reins After a pony has mastered the basic gaits such as the walk, trot, high-step and canter; it's time for him or her to learn to be driven by rein. Becoming acclimated to the reins will prepare the pony for pulling a cart as well as being ridden. It is often useful to drive the pony on long reins from behind to train for responsiveness.
- Athletic or hiking shoes Though the fantasy may involve impossibly high heels a la the pony girls of John Willie or special, heelless boots with metal horseshoes attached, these items are not suitable for actual training, especially for the novice. Instead, supportive shoes that will minimize the risk of injury should be used.
- Blinkers or a blindfold While blinkers are usually considered more advanced gear, they are incredibly useful for checking a pony's response to physical cues, such as pulling on the reins or giving a tap with the crop. Some ponies will also find that having their vision restricted or eliminated will help to put them in the proper head space. Remember if you use blinders that the pony will rely more on the trainer for guidance.
Many players also enjoy adding visually pleasing elements to their tack, such as leather mitts to prohibit the pony from using his or her hands as well as to give a more hoof-like appearance. Harnesses and tails are also commonly seen accessories. Corsets and behind-the-back bondage for the hands, though exceedingly popular, should not be used until the pony has developed satisfactory stamina and balance.
There are a number of benefits to grooming, even if the human pony is not dirty. It is physically pleasurable for the pony, builds intimacy and trust between pony and trainer, and is great for both getting the players into the right head space before training and aftercare post training.
Like anything else in pony play, there are different levels of involvement in grooming, but a basic kit doesn't need to be anything fancy and can even be cobbled together from elements in the beauty supply section of the drug store. The important thing is the physical contact and ritual of the process. Below is a basic list to give beginners a few ideas.
- Curry comb or washcloth A curry comb is a rubber brush fitted with nubs, used on horses to loosen dirt and extra hair from their coats. It can feel quite nice on human skin if not used too vigorously and stimulates circulation. A dry or lightly moist washcloth can serve the same purpose.
- Stiff bristled brush After the curry comb is used, a bio-equine is brushed down with a stiff bristled brush in short, quick strokes to remove the loosened dirt and hair. On a human pony, light brushing, tickling, and teasing with a stiff bristled brush can be extremely pleasurable, though vigorous use can irritate or even scratch the skin.
- Soft brush A soft brush is used after the stiff bristled brush to add shine to a horse's coat and to brush the face. The same is true with human ponies. Adding a tiny bit of oil to the soft brush can also help to condition human skin and give an alluring, healthy glow.
- Paddle brush A paddle brush, or any brush or comb, can be used to comb out the human pony's hair. Only wide toothed, plastic or wooden combs should be used on wigs and fake tails, so as to avoid pulling out the strands.
- Shine serum or oil Shine serum or even just plain vegetable oil can be massaged into the human pony's mane to add luster and make the hair healthier. Only the tiniest drop need be used. Even for the longest hair, a drop the size of a dime is more than enough.
- Bug repellent Before training, bio-equines are sprayed down with fly spray to keep insects from pestering and distracting them during their training. This can also be a nice touch for human ponies, but care should be taken to select a human-safe brand.
Pony play is best experienced within the community and Equus Eroticus is an excellent place to start getting involved, offering resources to help one find playmates, play locations, and events. And since EE is an interactive enterprise, new players can become involved right away, submitting their written fantasies, pictures, suggestions, reviews, and more to begin establishing themselves or just have fun. Involvement also comes with perks, like making friends who know you more completely and getting personal tips from experienced players.