Horsing Around: Intro to Pony Play

Horsing Around: Intro to Pony Play

Pony play is a little-known but fascinating part of the BDSM world. Find out how you can join this unique and dedicated community.

Role-play fetishes are quite common, but a less ordinary and quite fascinating subset is animal role-playing. Pony play involves role-playing as a horse. Similarly, there are kitty players, puppy players, and other forms of animal role-play, yet pony play seems to stand apart as a community and lifestyle. In addition to dressing up in equine gear, participants also usually involve themselves in the psychodrama of enacting the roles of either a horse or the horse’s carer. Not to be confused with bronies, furries or zoophiles, pony play is very specific in the equine community’s acceptance and guidelines for consent, discipline, and competition. Pony play enthusiasts are excited by the idea of humans pretending to be horses (or horse wranglers). They don’t identify as horses and are not aroused by real or cartoon horses. The appeal lies within the power dynamics of enacting these roles.

Many pony players would theorize that pony play is inherently BDSM due to the power exchange factor—one player chooses to role play as a horse, or chooses to play as being forced to play a horse, while the other player wields power over them. There is also the discipline involved in preparing and enacting pony scenes. Pony play can be largely theatrical by way of elaborate costuming, props and showmanship. In some pony play communities, there are even stables, competitions and auctions where people train, groom, showcase, ride and “trade” human ponies. (As with all types of sex acts and BDSM, consent is paramount. All “ponies” consent to all activities they take part in.)

Some people enjoy the occasional trail ride on the weekends, while others live life 24/7 as a horse. Costuming can range from sparse to maximalist; equipment is certainly not required for this type of play, but it can certainly enhance the experience. Intriguing, isn’t it? 

What is pony play?

Pony play is generally considered to be a type of role-playing that resides under the BDSM umbrella. This type of role-playing is centered on the fantasy of being a subservient pet that a firm but loving “owner” trains, grooms and rides. The amount of gear, tack and outfitting involved also serves nicely as bondage gear.

Like other forms of BDSM, pony play is centered on a community of people with similar interests. This community promotes both acceptance and accountability. There are generally two types of pony play: There’s “forced” play, in which the top treats the bottom as a person they’re treating like a horse intentionally in order to humiliate them (consensually, of course). The other is where both partners begin a scene as if the bottom is an actual horse and the top acts along accordingly. 

As with all BDSM scenes, and perhaps even more so, the aftercare and pre-scene care are paramount—and they’re often integral to the scene itself, rather than a series of activities that take place outside of that headspace. As an “owner” would care for their horse, the acts of preparing the “pony” by saddling them up with gear, as well as bathing, petting and feeding after a ride or a show, are all fundamental parts of this lifestyle and form of play.

What types of ponies are there?

There are many different types of ponies. Cart ponies pull small carriages that their masters ride in. Often, a master will harness multiple cart ponies for maximum efficiency (and to relieve the burden on a single pony). Riders can fully saddle up or ride a riding pony bareback. (Note: Putting one’s full weight on another human’s back may cause injury, so “riding” is often blocked or marked for symbolism by the rider putting most of their weight on their own legs and straddling stronger points of the pony’s body, like their shoulders or hips.) Show ponies go through extensive training and may be entered into competitions to showcase their level of poise, obedience and the owner’s sense of style through sophisticated outfitting. The type of pony you choose to be at any given time may overlap and vary. Outfitting can vary too—English-style equestrian gear is more common, but there’s no reason you can’t get western with lassos and cowboy boots. Mind the spurs!

How can I get started with pony play?

First, establish which role you’d like to play. What sounds more appealing to you: serving a master as a steadfast companion or commanding power over a spirited wild animal whose trust you must earn? And what kind of pony will you be? A workhorse, serving your master by pulling their cart? A fancy show pony? Or perhaps you’d like to carve out another role—a young, wild stallion whose spirit must be tamed by strict discipline?

Of course, if you’re new to the equestrian world, it’s helpful to find a partner or trusted mentor to explore with, or preferably someone who can help you learn and introduce you to a community. There are a few organizations that put on events you can look into attending; you can contact them to find out about local groups as well. Check out EQUUS or even FetLife to find other equine enthusiasts. Once you’ve begun to do some research and establish trust with potential pony play partners, it’s time to shop!

Where can I shop for pony play supplies?

Pony play is gradually becoming more mainstream, so many formerly hard-to-find items are becoming more available in fetish shops, erotic boutiques and online retailers alike. For many items that don’t require custom fits or human-sized adjustments, you can visit your local ranch store to buy items that were intended for real horses. Costuming and fitting can be as custom and expensive as you’re willing to pay—or it can be quite simple and minimal. 

An extensive pony play shopping list:

  • A riding crop for light discipline and training purposes; a light thwack will ensure a wild horse knows who’s boss!
  • Reins to steer your pony in the right direction
  • A bridle that attaches to the reins and limits mobility
  • A bit, which is a gag that prohibits noises your pony may emit
  • A saddle distributes weight across a pony’s back and is aesthetically essential to a western look
  • Hooves, which are boots shaped like hooves to complete the equine look; they also serve to exquisitely train and discipline your pony. They take a lot of practice to perfect walking in—some are certainly more extreme than others, so take your time before you graduate from mega-high platforms to full ballet boots.
  • Pony tail, the part of a costume that feels delightful to wear. Shake your show pony tail!
  • A brush to cool your pony down after a vigorous right; give them a cool drink of water, a nice bath and a soft brush

  • This list is just an example. You can continue adding fancy tack, masks, gloves, ears and full-on latex bodysuits if you desire. Shop around, especially if you’re a show pony—this is the fun part!

    Where can I learn more?

    Read up to know what to expect from your first pony play experience. The gorgeous photo book The Human Pony by Rebecca Wilcox gives a glimpse of the lifestyle and is a great place to get inspired as the photos showcase the intricate, interesting costuming aspect of this lifestyle. Carrie’s Story by Pam Rosenthal is an erotic romance that details what it’s like to live as a human pony 24/7. The documentary Born in a Barn gives a humorous, non-judgmental perspective into the lives of a few individuals at different stages in their pony play exploration. If you’re going to get really into character, it’s also helpful to have some knowledge of what it’s actually like to own and care for a horse. It’s quite a lot of work, but the bond with your horse is worth it all. Check out some horse care tips from a website like the ASPCA to learn more about just how involved horse care really is. Keep in mind that your human horse will require the same (if not more) love and affection.

    Whether you’re just hoofin’ around or ready to become a very serious and literal horse girl, it never hurts to brush up on some common ground rules of BDSM before engaging in any sort of power dynamic play. Giddy up!