Ponyplay: Leading the Human Pony


Leading a ponyboy or ponygirl is one of the basics that should be learned as early as possible during training. It is equally important for a trainer to know how to lead a pony as it is for the pony to know how to be led. This may seem obvious, but sometimes ambiguous signals can be given which confuse the pony. Thus, it is important to be clear and unambiguous in commands to a pony since, just like bio-equines, they cannot ask for clarification.

Proper positioning is an integral part of leading your pony. Out of habit in leading bio-equines, I always stand to the left of my pony and slightly ahead (with bio-equines, one should lead with the horse's front shoulder even with your body). The pony should remain to your right and slightly behind at all times.

Hold the pony's reins (or lead rope if the pony is in a halter) in your right hand about 12-18 inches away from where the reins attach to the bit. Hold any excess rein neatly coiled or folded in your left hand, but do not wrap it around your hand or arm. Have a foot or so of distance between you and your pony. Show your pony you trust him/her by leaving some slack in the lead rope/reins and only tighten up when he misbehaves or breaks the rules.

Ponies can spook, so when you are leading your pony through a narrow opening make your pony wait while you pass through, then once you are through allow your pony to calmly follow through as well.

It is very important to make sure you pony respects your personal space when being led. Your pony might get nervous for many reasons (other ponies, people, etc.), and when he does he may try to keep close to you since you are his source of protection. While it is great that he sees you in this way, you do not want to be kicked or knocked over accidentally.

Insist on a least a foot of space between you and your pony at all times. When your pony invades your space, whatever the reason, push him off and jab him gently in the shoulder with your elbow. You can also flick your pony with the end of the reins or with a crop if you have one.

If your pony starts getting really nervous or just high-spirited/disobedient, stop him and turn him to face you. Once he is stopped and facing you, you can approach him and help reassure him that everything is fine.

If your pony gets distracted while you are leading him you should give a sharp downward snap of the lead line/reins to bring his focus back to you. There is no need to yank sideways initially if your purpose is to just regain your pony's attention. However, if your pony does not respond to a sharp tug backwards then you should yank him to the side to force him to walk in a circle. Keep tightening the circle until he stops, then you can start walking in a straight line again.

One the other hand, if your pony does not want to move forward, you should start pulling him sharply in your direction in a tight circle. This works well because you will take him off-balance, and he cannot put all his weight into resisting you when he off balance. The pony will be forced to take a step forward to preserve his balance. When he does this, try to walk again. If you pony again refuses to move after this first step, continue applying sideways pressure and making tight circles until eventually the pony cooperates with you.

At some point, you may wish your pony to reverse and walk backwards. In this case, you will want you apply reverse pressure with the lead line/reins, and the pony does not respond to this, you should start snapping the lead backwards sharply at your pony.

Finally, use the power of your voice: when you want your pony to halt, use a command in addition to your physical cue (i.e., whoa, halt, walk, back up, etc.). In addition to the word, there is also the emotional stimulus expressed in the tone and inflection of your voice. The inflection of your voice can express disappointment, anger, or warmth.

Now that you have taught your pony how to be led, let's lead him over to a hitching post and teach him how to be tied.