Tack and Equipment for Ponyplay
In the domesticated bio-horse world there is a huge range in the prevalence of tack: bio-horses can be ridden without any tack whatsoever (i.e. bareback without halter or bridle), or they can be ridden and trained with a huge number of training aids. The same is true for ponyplay. Most of the pieces of tack used in ponyplay mirror those used in the bio-equine world, albeit usually adapted for use on a human. In addition there are also items used in ponyplay that would not be used on a bio-horse (e.g. a bio-horse has no need for a horse head mask or latex body suit). Thus there is a plethora of equipment available specifically for ponyplay, but of course you can make your own tack or adapt bio-horse tack to your needs.
I enjoy the bondage aspects of pony play. As a human "forced" into becoming an animal, restraints are needed to keep me in pony role. Thus for me, tack is a necessity during ponyplay. However, there are many ponies who play at being a wild horse or otherwise don't necessarily like to be burdened with tack. Thus, the amount and type of tack is completely a matter of personal preference. So, while strictly speaking no equipment is needed for ponyplay, the BDSM fetish of ponyplay (which this site is about) usually involves equipment of some kind, so I will talk about some of the common (and some of the uncommon) pieces of ponyplay equipment.
Common items for ponyplay include wrist restraints (I like having my arms restrained, but not all ponies do - thus it is not uncommon for a pony to wear leather wrist cuffs without them being clipped to anything, effectively leaving the arms free), a bit or bit gag, and a tail. If you are already into BDSM, you probably already have wrist restraints and possibly a bit gag. Tails for ponyplay can be found fairly easily.
While a bit gag and tail can probably get the point across, quite a few ponies have bridles (which can have plumes, blinders, ears, etc.), and body harnesses of some kind. Hoof boots and hoof mitts are not uncommon. There are several designs of hoof boots out there, and the best hoof boot (or whether to use hoof boots at all) for your pony depends strongly on what disciple of ponyplay you will engage in (some boots are just designed to look hot, some are designed to give a pony some type of ankle support, etc.). Hoof mitts are suitable for nearly every type of ponyplay, but they (like every item of pony play tack) are item of personal taste (I love them, but I love the bondage aspects of ponyplay).
Saddles are common for riding ponies, but saddles are also seen on show ponies and cart ponies where they might be purely decorative. A saddle can be somewhat heavy, and its attachment to the pony adds to the feeling of restriction. Then there are martingales, tongue curbs, and other somewhat esoteric items (well, esoteric in pony play, but not so much in bio-equine world).
Thus, ponyplay can be very expensive if you want to go all out. However, like I mentioned above, a simple bit gag with reins and a tail work just fine. Even if you add in a pair wrist cuffs, the total cost will still be quite reasonable. If you are new to ponyplay, it might be a good idea to start off simple and see how you like it before purchasing a whole bunch of equipment.
Also, since ponyplay is based on bio-horse riding and training, consider adapting bio-horse items to your needs. Bits, hobbles, tongue ports, crops, whips, spurs, twitches, stud chains, polos, reins, lead ropes, and some saddles (if bio-pony sized and only used for decoration) can all be purchased from bio-horse tack shops and used on a human pony with little or no modification needed.
Just a quick note: I use "tack" and "equipment" interchangeably, and in ponyplay, I do indeed consider them to be roughly the same. However, in the bio-equine world, tack is often taken to mean the items used during riding, while equipment is considered to be inclusive of all the items used in relation to a horse and its care (i.e. tack is a subset of equipment: a bridle would be a piece of tack and a piece of equipment; a horse blanket would be a piece of equipment but not a piece of tack).
Below are pieces of tack used in ponyplay with brief descriptions. If you want to learn more about a certain piece of tack, follow the link to the full article on that item.
- Bits - are used to control the pony's head via attached reins. A bit goes in the pony's mouth and is often attached to a bridle. Nearly all bits used in ponyplay are bio-horse bits. The most common bit used in ponyplay is the straight mouth rubber snaffle (standard rubber bit gag), which is bio-horse bit typically used in driving. Bits are one of the most directly translatable items of tack.
- Bridles - are used for holding a bit securely in the pony's mouth. Bridles provide a greater degree of control over a pony's head than a bit alone.
- Body Suits & Catsuits - are used for covering up the human pony for public play. Catsuits are often made of materials (e.g. latex) that are of interest to some of us fetishists, which is another common reason for their use. Moreover, if care is taken in color choice, catsuits can greatly enhance a pony's harness or other tack.
- Collars - are used for a variety of reasons: a posture collar can be used to make sure your ponyboy's head remains held high. A shock collar can be used for training purposes (e.g. making sure your pony only makes equine sounds). A simple leather collar can be used for leading your pony around (reins or a lead rope are typically used in ponyplay instead of a leash, but a leash can be used).
- Double Bridles - are not often used in ponyplay. A Pelham bit is recommended in place of a double bridle for most purposes since a Pelham still provides most of the functionality of a double bridle without requiring two separate bits. However, the human mouth can accommodate two bits, so using a double bridle can be a great piece of tack for photo shoots (or for those who enjoy gags and mouth bondage), but it is not practical for any extended wear.
- Harnesses - are used as points of attachment for carts, for decorative purposes, and of course for bondage. There are many harness styles, and harnesses are often a very personal piece of tack. Harnesses should be sturdily made and fit well especially if they are used for pulling carts.
- Hobbles - are used to restrain a pony's legs to prevent him running away when there is no convenient place to tie his reins or lead rope. Hobbles are often used in breeding scenes; in those cases the hobbles are typically applied to the mare to prevent her from kicking the ponyboy stallion. Authentic livestock hobbles can be used directly on human ponies. I like the added realism provided by authentic livestock hobbles (though you will have a hard time finding lockable livestock hobbles from bio-horse or farm supply retailers).
- Hooves - are used both as an additional bondage element (hand hooves restrict the ability of a pony to use his fingers, and hoof boots are difficult to walk in thus restricting how fast a pony can move) and to add realism by giving the pony's limbs the appearance of being hooves.
- Martingales - connect a pony's bridle (usually via the chin strap) to his girth or waist belt. This helps prevent head tossing in spirited ponies and also helps to encourage the pony to maintain proper head carriage.
- Masks - are most often used to give s human pony a more equine looking head, but masks can also be used for sensory restriction or simply for the feeling of enhanced bondage.
- Piercings - are not really an item of tack, but they can be used to help control the human pony (e.g. nipple reins can be used instead of normal reins, or nipple reins can be threaded through bit rings to be used in conjunction with normal reins for enhanced rein control).
- Polos - are used for support of the pony's arms and legs. Personally, I think they look really good when worn over hoof boots. They can also be used directly for restraining a pony's limbs.
- Saddles - can be purely decorative, completely functional, or somewhere in between. There are saddles for all fours riding, two-legged riding, and hybrid saddles that allow for either two or four legged riding. Care should be taken when choosing a saddle if it is to be used for actual riding. It is important to make sure adequate support is given to minimize back injuries.
- Spurs - are worn by the pony's rider and are sometimes used for refinement of the leg aids (just as in bio-horse riding). However, unlike in bio-horse riding, spurs are sometimes used for "punishment" in ponyplay. In the latter case, severe spurs (e.g. rowels with sharp or only mildly blunted points) are often used (care is strongly advised here - even blunted spurs can cause injury).
- Stud Chains - are used to control unruly ponies. For use with bio-horses, a stud chain is most commonly attached to the halter with the chain portion running over the nose. This method of attachment can also be used on human ponies, but due to possible damage to the face, this is not something I would recommend.
- Tails - are attached to the pony via the harness or via a butt plug. Tails are one of the more prevalent pieces of ponyplay equipment. Tails for ponyplay can be made of genuine horsehair or synthetic material, and if attached via a butt plug, the plug portion of the tail can be rubber, silicone, metal (usually stainless steel, but I know of one ponyplay tail that uses a solid silver butt plug), or glass.
- Tongue Ties - are difficult to use on human ponies if the pony does not have a tongue piercing (the tongue can be easily be pulled out if a barbell does not help to hold it in place). If properly attached, tongue ties restrict tongue movement by holding the pony's tongue down in his mouth. A simple rubber band or piece of cloth can be used as a tongue tie.
- Tongue Ports (Rubber) - attach to a pony's bit and extend back into the mouth. They are superbly effective at holding a pony's tongue down. Thus tongue ports prevent a ponyboy from getting his tongue over the bit, playing with the bit, or making any coherent speech. Because of the severely restricted tongue movement, tongue ports will cause copious drooling. Also, they will likely stimulate the gag reflex if not cut to reduce their length from the standard size. Fortunately, they are also very inexpensive, so you can buy a bunch and cut them to various sizes.
If you are looking to buy your ponyplay equipment, I would suggest Fury Fantasy, which, in my opinion, has some of the best equipment, especially when it comes to horse head masks. Csara, which no longer seems to be in business (their website is still up, so they may restart production at some point), also had some great harnesses and pony gear. Reactor Rubber, also no longer in business (their site no longer exists), made some of the best pony boots (comfortable to wear and walk in and great looking as well).
I've also listed some of my personal favorite pieces of ponyplay tack.