By Pamela Emmons
Fine needles of sunlight stream into the barn between decaying wooden boards, piercing the darkness with barely enough illumination for me to evaluate my strange surroundings. The beast is silent, but I know it’s there. The creaking of a leather harness as it strains to contain a slowly heaving chest, compromises the animal’s shadowy camouflage.
As my eyes adjust to the fractured darkness, the curious creature is revealed. It is not a horse, but a man. A mostly naked man, outfitted with a complex network of leather straps held fast by roller buckles. The straps are fitted tightly, biting into dirty, sweat drenched skin and secured in place with tiny padlocks.
Keeping the mouth open wide is a cruel looking bit jammed between his teeth, also secured by an intricate arrangement of straps and rings. The wrists are secured to the upper arms, leaving the hands to dangle forward helplessly in a pair of fingerless leather mitts.
Closer inspection reveals a curious pair of knee-high leather lace-up boots, appearing to point the toes downward at an awkward angle while lacking a fully formed heel. Manmade hooves.
Secured by RLV pony tack, this full-time pony boy surrendered his human existence in Second Life long ago. All communication with his riding Mistress and other citizens of SL is done via a limited number of emotes programmed into his tack.
I had hoped to speak directly to the pony boy about his existence, but his Mistress, who is quite strict, would not permit it. Respecting her wishes, I observed a training session as the statuesque domme put her creature through his paces. Her shiny black crop was not used sparingly, and spent little time at her side. Time and again it whistled through the air ending in a commanding snap against the pony’s flesh.
Many gentle Riding Mistresses and well-cared for ponies would take issue with this dark and narrow portrayal of the pony fetish world. While it would seem that much of this is extreme and unusual, there are very nurturing trainers and very dedicated ponies who care deeply for each other and socialize in very matter-of-fact ways.
Button Wright is the proprietor of the Frilly Filly Farm in Second Life which promotes a more innocent approach to pony play.
“One of the most common misconceptions is that pony play at FFF is about sex,” says Button. “We occasionally get visitors who, seeing almost naked bound men and women think there is a sexual aspect to what we do and want to touch and arouse the ponies. While the pony play at FFF itself is not sexual, it does lead to lasting relationships that become romantic outside the pony/trainer role play. The role play we practice at FFF does not include sex . . . or breeding. It is certainly a mature pursuit, but not something I would classify as adult.”
For anyone who appreciates the surrender of power exchange and the beauty of bondage, the appeal of pony fetish is not mysterious. If you look below the surface, however, there is often more than meets the eye.
“Dehumanization,” says Shui Hosoi, a diminutive Asian female switch. “There is something very erotic about being less than human, and being treated as such. For me it is an extreme form of power exchange that I find very seductive.”
Many pony fetish enthusiasts agree that surrendering your “humanity” can actually be liberating. After all, sexuality is a basic animal drive and the sexuality of humans is fraught with rules, manners and guilt. Abandoning that allows the pony fetishist to behave in a very primitive way . . . and let loose.
While letting loose may be a primary objective for some, it is evident that much of what transpires during play is quite literally “very tight” and unforgiving. This includes both the severely restrictive equipment as well as the psychological control.
“Being shaped by someone else’s will is an essential part of the experience for me,” says Shui. “If I am locked down tight with no options other than carrying out the commands of my trainer, I enter a very comforting sub-space.”
Who are pony play enthusiasts and why are they drawn to it? Are ponies merely masochists seeking a very specific thrill? Are trainers psycho-sadists who get off on controlling susceptible subs?
“I find helplessness, humiliation and transformation all very erotic,” adds the enthusiastic Shui. “And you get it all in pony play. I guess you could say, it’s the trifecta!”
“I believe the desire for pony play can have very early roots in childhood development,” explains Button. “Many children are given rocking horses or stick ponies. . . . Others play horsey with friends where they ride or are ridden. Some of us come into our adult life with a strong desire to play these games again.”
Unfortunately, the freedom to openly play these games in SL is currently being threatened. In the very first version of SLs recently implemented adult content filtering feature, the word ‘pony play’ appeared right between “piss” and “porn.”
“I was pretty upset and held meetings at the stable,” says Wright. “I used the forums to comment, and talked to various Lindens during their office hours. These words thankfully are no longer on the filter list.”
Pony fetish seems to perfectly embody the old adage that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. What may seem sick and twisted to some, is sheer splendor to others. Whatever your view, pony fetish is as intriguing and diverse as any other neighborhood in the endlessly expansive world of BDSM.