Wednesday, October 17, 2012

High Stepping Ponygrrl


I recently met a very interesting young woman, also named Liz coincidentally, who enjoys dressing and acting as a pony on occasion.  Since I'd interviewed leather pups in the past, I wanted to find out more about this fetish/interest.  Luckily, she agreed to answer some questions for me.


1          1. So, Liz...pony play. What's it all about?

Well, there are a lot of variations to pony play, but the basic breakdown goes as follows:  one person takes on aspects of horses- whether its gear, or behaviours, or both, and the other person takes the reins and acts as a Handler (in a ‘top’ position).  It can be about Dominance and Submission, it can be about BDSM, it can be about sex, it can be about bondage or humiliation- but it will involve aspects of horses and horsemanship. 

There are a lot of groups out there that talk about various kinds of pony play, but two resources I recommend are ‘The Human Equine’ by Rebecca Wilcox, and taking a look at what the search engine on Fetlife pulls up when you enter ‘pony play’ in the box.  ‘Pony Play’ the group, and ‘Alternative Pony’ are two really great general groups to find out more about pony play from.

2. Why a pony, as opposed to a pup or a kitten?

Well, for me personally, I feel that my personality and characteristics are more in keeping with how we perceive horses than dogs or cats.  When that perception crosses into play and the BDSM and Leather worlds, I still feel an affinity to Ponies as opposed to pups or kitties.  Pups are very playful, full of energy and some mischief.  Those who choose pup identities often say they have ‘pup like’ characteristics, and the same is often heard from people who choose ‘kitties’ when they engage in critter play.  Just a side note, critter play is an umbrella term for play where one person takes on characteristics of an animal.  It is not to be confused with Furry activities or culture- they are separate in that (and this is only my understanding, so asking a Furry would be more appropriate for more information) critter play is based in BDSM and Leather culture, while Furry play is based in Furry culture which comes from a cosplay basis.  There are very different values between the two groups, although you can get a lot of cross- over of how critters manifest their animal selves and engage with each other.




So, back to the question at hand.  I have always loved horses, and felt that if I were to adhere to a faith or spirituality that included spirit animals, my spirit animal would be a horse.  As a child, I rode, I studied horses, I dreamt of owning horses and I played at being a horse.  Fast forward to being a young adult and discovering kink, and a lot of those passions fell away.  However, the affinity I felt for what horses are in our society- property, pets, cherished servants, etc- was reflected in a lot of the power exchange I was witnessing in others around me, and in my own relationship.

I had been introduced to a few pups and kitties, and while I really enjoy interacting with pups and kitties, the concept of being one didn’t really appeal to me.  Actually, for a long time, I had very negative feelings towards the pony play I did come across- mostly in porn.  Being a bio- horse lover since childhood, I couldn't understand sexualizing an animal that I loved so much. That was how I interpreted Pony Play for quite some time, as a sexual fetish, humiliation play (not that there is anything wrong with doing pony play this way, it just wasn’t for me at the time).  After a while, I wanted to understand where my feelings of hostility towards this kind of play came from, and I realized that I'd only a limited exposure to the many facets of pony play, and that I actually felt an attraction to it. I felt vulnerable about my personal interpretation, which is of being a human pony, complete with as close to the true psychology of a bio horse as I can get, as well as a breed, height, training goals, etc. Once I was able to realize that there were different and varied kinds of pony play (I understand much better those ponies and their players who enjoy the BDSM aspects of pony play, even if I don't identify with it that way now), I was able to give myself permission to explore my own pony self. I just wasn't sure how to go about it.

I'd always felt that if I had a spirit animal, it was a horse. I felt that I shared the attributes of a horse- loyal, sensitive, smart, capable, strong. I felt that I needed a herd (my human circle of loved ones), and that I had it in me to surrender my will to another through the kind of trust and guidance a good rider builds with their mount.      
     
3.     How much gear do you have and when do you have the opportunity to wear it?

I have some gear- depending on the kind of play you do, you can have a lot of gear or
very little.  If you are a textile fetishist and are really into the gear aspect, you may have a
bodysuit, a tail, special shoes, special gloves, a mask, a headpiece, a tail, and then all
the tack (the saddle, bridle, etc)! 

Or, perhaps you are a SM or sex pony and you simply have a bit gag that gets you into
the headspace. 

Or, you could be a human pony, and thus require as much tack- harness, bridle, bit, reins,
cart, etc as a biological horse would. 




I myself am a bit of a working pony and a bit of a show pony, and I have no full time
Handler.  Often Handlers decide (with the pony’s input) how much gear they want to tack
the pony with.  So, as a pony with no trainer, I am building my own gear to use.  My
mental image of my pony self is of a grey pony, so I have a grey bodysuit that I wear.  I
have a pair of ears that I have fashioned from some actual pony gear that I wear.  I have a
waist cincher, which helps me feel the constriction I imagine a saddle or cart harness
would give.  It also doubles as decoration for when I shift between fetish and human
pony- fetish being more sexy, costume-y play, while human pony play I get deep into the
headspace and take on the behaviours of a pony.  I have an actual harness coming,
which I hope to add on top of the cincher or even instead of the cincher for different looks
and feeling.  I have a bridle, and a set of reins.  I have a couple of lines, which are ropes
with clips that you use to lead a horse somewhere, secure their head to a hitching post,
etc.  I have a lunge line which is a long lead that is used for training, so that the pony can
work in a circle around the Handler. 

I have a mask so I can go out in public-it is very showy, and I as a pony feel like it’s a
special occasion when I wear it.  I have two to three pairs of shoes and boots I wear,
depending on the kind of play I will be doing, and I accent my legs with legwarmers to
represent the white markings I would have if I were an actual pony.  I have a tail, and I do
my hair in the way I imagine a show pony might have it done.  I also have some gloves
that I wear to help get me into the mindset.

I don’t get to wear my gear and get into pony headspace often.  Firstly, I am owned, but
do not have a regular Trainer.  So, if I get into pony headspace, I do not have someone to
take responsibility for me.  This means that when I do put on my pony gear, I maintain my
‘regular’ self, and don’t let go.  Pony headspace is much like subspace.  Most ponies
become nonverbal, they will react differently to stimuli and circumstances than they
would in their ‘human’ mindset, and they are not always aware of their physical state. 
Wearing my gear is bittersweet at the moment, because when I put it on I yearn to sink
into pony headspace and just be a pony.  However, if you are at a general play party or
out in public, you need to maintain verbal communication and retain the cultural
behaviours that are required for the moment.  So, I wear my pony gear to events where I
will have the opportunity to engage in pony activities, such as the Pony Camp at
Brimstone in NJ this upcoming November.  There, I will be assisting with workshops on
pony play, engaging in training with a Handler, and competing in a show.  I will get to go
into pony headspace with the Handler, and work on a Dressage performance for the
show.




I wear my gear in public for events such as the Pride Parade, Nuit Blanche in Toronto,
Sexapolooza, and other alternative sexual events.  I also wear my gear to workshops and
seminars that I participate in, and occasionally to play parties.  However, one big
constraint with ponies of the human or bio variety is space!

4. How large/small is the pony community in Ottawa?

Ottawa has a surprisingly large pony community.  I say surprising because it seems to be
something that individuals do at events as a side activity, or privately, and so the social
connectedness of a community is not visible.  However, if you ask those who have been
in the Leather and BDSM community for a while, everyone knows a pony and Trainer
couple, everyone can point out a pony or two.  I am trying to bring these ponies together,
and create a space for ponies and their Trainers to engage and interact, get connected
and have events.




5. I hear you've put together a group for like-minded people. What's it called and how can
people contact you?

My group is called the Ottawa Pony and Critter Club!  You can find us on Facebook,
though you will need to be invited to join, and you can find us on Fetlife. 
https://fetlife.com/groups/44931 , where you don’t need an invite to join.

My handle on Facebook is Ponygrrl Bixophon, and I am Ponygirl_Bixy on Fetlife.  We
meet once a month on average, and I am working towards creating events geared
towards critter play and pony play specifically in the Ottawa area.

6. Finally, what would you say to people who don't understand this type of kink?

I would say that Pony Play may not appear to be like any other kink at first glance, but
once you get to understand what individuals get from it, and what gets played out in the
play, you will see that it is a fantastic kink!  Pony play is largely based in D/s, and easily
accommodates textile fetishists such as rubber and leather enthusiasts. It is also very
photogenic, if you are excited about visual scenes. If you like humiliation play, being
turned into a ‘beast of burden’ for your lover is sexy, as is being ‘forced’ to take a bit gag
or be trussed in a harness or wear a tail plug.  If you are into submission and service,
becoming a pony is a great way to take a break from ‘human’, vanilla cares and worries
and surrender to your Trainer’s guidance.  If you are looking for something engaging that
both you and your partner can do together while still maintaining your power dynamic,
pony training is a great way to build skills!  Learning how to train your own submissive to
perfectly respond to your commands and then together acquiring skills to compete in an
international pony play event is a perfect way to engage in power exchange, work on
physical and mental skills together, and display your hard work to others who enjoy and
appreciate what you are doing.




*****

Excerpt from a journal entry by Liz (Bixy) about finding her inner pony and letting her out for the first time:

I had a lot of other things on my plate before the event, but I'd been thinking about pony play in the months before the event when by chance my Sir noticed a call out for demo ponies for some workshops at the event we were going to. After some discussion with the presenter, I cautiously agreed to watch her videos and train on my own before meeting her. I spent those weeks anxiously contemplating what it was for me to be a pony while working on my gaits at the local ball diamond. I found the training soothing and rhythmic, it reminded of the headspace I got into when running. I also slowly developed a picture of my pony self in my mind, and began wondering what it would be like to feel someone on the other end of reins.
I was very nervous coming to the event, as I generally don't want to let people down, and here I was about to engage in something I was very inexperienced at- and being a demo to boot. However, my first Trainer was experienced and excellent, and really encouraged me to let go of human concerns and listen to my animal self. I had kept seeing my pony as grey, as young and inexperienced but trainable, as having a huge curiosity for the world. My pony was able to come out, take over, and run free that weekend!

I had intended to focus on another aspect of myself, but after the first training session with my Trainer, I was hooked. We hit it off pretty well, and were able to meet for training every day. I went to the Pony Meet n Greet at the event, and was able to see how other ponies expressed themselves, played, and interacted. I had a second Trainer, who had some pony experience, who introduced me to a different style of bridle and I found my pony self- 'Bixy' (or 'Skittles', to my Sir, because she is skittish) responding to the new environment, to the other ponies, to the people around her.

It was amazing- I hadn't felt so much pure, unreserved joy since childhood! I went to many of the pony workshops, and was a demo for the 'gaits' workshop (which focusses on the different ways ponies - bio and human- walk and run). Someone asked if I'd be in the pony show (which I had intended on watching to learn more), and my Trainer encouraged me to enter- so I did!

The show was something else, for another discussion. In the end, I won a ribbon (everyone won a ribbon), but again that unabashed sense of joy and freedom swept over me. I am so proud of my ribbon, even though I have a long journey ahead of me in terms of where my pony is going.

Since then I've kept my memories of that event close to relive when I get wistful. I don't have as many opportunities to let her run, but Bixy is in me, waiting to get out and tear up some grass, feel the bit in her mouth, and the tug of the reins!

*****

Thanks so much, Liz, for a fascinating interview!  Good luck with the Ottawa Pony and Critter Club and I hope to be seeing you very soon!

~ Liz L.

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