I've ponied up in public before, but only at Pride parades. That's a totally different environment, of course. That, and I just walked around and posed, nothing like full-on whinnying and dressage. So when my handler and I scheduled to do an outdoor training session at Palmer Park, I was pretty nervous, to say the least.
The day of the session, I got slammed with a bunch of homework, and I told my handler that we should reschedule. But when I saw how nice it was outside, and considered how long I had been looking forward to it, I was all "FUCK IT. WE'RE DOING THIS." I wasn't going to let my inhibitions rob me of an experience I've been looking forward to my entire life.
I put on my spandex suit - my “fur,” if you will - and polo wraps underneath my street clothes, since I didn’t want to have to strip down in a public park. I was jittery the entire time, watching the clock count down as I redid my right wrap like five times. When the time came, I drove down to Palmer Park, parking at the dog park. There was a ton of people there, which made my nerves even worse.
We hiked a bit to an open space that I got acquainted with during a navigation class I took at UCCS. It couldn’t be more perfect: plenty of space, shade, a tie-off point in the form of an old information sign, a rock to put gear on, and surrounding rocks and trees that reduced the wind to a gentle breeze. I got out of my street clothes, and my handler helped me tack up. She tied me off to the information sign, then put me in my hoof gloves.
Just as I got into my hoof gloves, a car - the first of five or six throughout the session - came up the road to use our training space to make a U-turn. I felt especially vulnerable at that moment; wearing rubber hooves and a leather collar, it was impossible to hide the nature of what I was doing. But the driver - as well as every other driver - smiled and waved, and we waved back. Of course, they ogled us in their rear-views as they drove away, but the warm reception we got helped me to settle down.
My handler took to brushing me, and that was the first time I had ever been in headspace in the great outdoors. I started whinnying and snorting, pawing at the ground, and begging for treats. My handler fed me a mint, which I ate while she groomed me. With each deep breath I took, my concerns fell away. This was a moment I used to only dream of, and I savored every second, the breeze running through my “fur” and tail.
We decided that this session should consist of the basics. So my handler led me out into the sun and run through my walk, trot, and canter. She even taught me how to do a flying lead change - both one- and two- beat - which is something I had been puzzling over for the longest time! Then we switched to reining during which we decided to rein Western style, instead of the typical English. I learned non-vocal commands - taps with a riding crop - for cantering and lead changing. We even laid out an intuitive system for future training sessions so that I could be taught without being spoken to in human-speak! It was a very productive session.
Sometime during the reining portion, a group of around six hikers were taking a break at the top of an outcropping that was overlooking our training ground. They asked what we were doing, and we replied in tandem “performance art” (which is true, actually! I need to write a whole other journal about why I consider my pony play “art”). One of them asked if I was a stallion, and I whinnied and tossed my head in reply, eliciting a laugh from the whole group. They watched us for a while, and Nightmare - being the attention whore he is - made sure his head was held high and gaits on-point the whole time.
Before I knew it, more than an hour had passed, and as the sun set, our first training session came to an end. I was walking on air, filled with pride. I didn’t anticipate pony play to be so well-received by bystanders. Two hours later, I was talking with a friend, and he made an interesting point: I could very well become recognized as “that pony in the park,” and when a parade comes around and I break out the showy tack, I would blow a ton of people’s minds. The idea that pony play could be that entertaining to people makes me happier than I can describe.
If I told my 15-year-old self where I would be when I was 21 - just a year after finding my niche in the kink community - I wouldn’t have believed him. Hell, I don’t think my 18-year-old self would have believed me either. I can't thank my handler enough for making all this possible.
Dreams really do come true.