By Keegan Hamilton
By Albert Samaha
By Village Voice staff
By Tessa Stuart
By Albert Samaha
By Steve Weinstein
By Devon Maloney
By Tessa Stuart
A sexy pair of Fluevog boots called Grand Nationals started it all. The name pays homage to the breathtaking, determined, cross-dressing Elizabeth Taylor straddling an enormous galloping horse in National Velvet. What young girl didn't want to be the tomboyish Taylor, tough enough to tame an animal several times her size? Before puberty, most girls would rather have a pony than a beau any day. I was no exception, and, already exhibiting my ambitious nature, I was not content to collect plastic horses. By the age of nine, I was riding every day and competing in horse shows. Sociologists theorize that the female fascination with all things equine has something to do with controlling our own budding animal sexuality. For me, the relationship between horse and rider was magical, intense, and very powerful, but never consciously sexual. Did my early experiences in the saddle make me a pervert?
Let's return for a moment to one of my adult fetishesshoesand the Grand Nationals. You might know them by their other name: They're called "hoof boots" after their high carved heels, cleverly shaped like cloven hooves. Both names are actually misnomershorses don't have cloven hooves, animals like goats do. But imprecise metaphors be damnedthe first time I slipped these black beauties on, I was transformed. Soft, dark leather ends just below the knee; delicate lacing runs from midfoot all the way up the side of the leg. They would look and feel a lot more like the boots I wore as a rider if it weren't for that hoof heel, which makes one feel more ready to be ridden. Standing up in them for the first time, I felt my center of gravity shiftmy whole body pitched forward, tits jutting out front, ass sticking out back. I bought them at once, and when I showed them to my girlfriend, Red, she encouraged me to debut them at the ball, a/k/a New York Gay Pride. They inspired our first foray into ponyplay.
I slipped on the boots. Red tied an elaborate body harness on me with crimson-colored rope she'd hand-dyed (she's so craftythe s&m Martha Stewart). She circled my breasts with rope and threaded it between my legs, where it rubbed in all the right places. She lubed up a plastic butt plug attached to a real horsehair tail and slid it inside my ass, tying knots here and there to secure it in place. The last touch was a metal bit covered in black rubber, which she placed gently in my mouth.
I trotted down Fifth Avenue as Cowboy Red; actually, I was an English pony, though she was a Western trainer, handling me with reins she attached to the bit. At first, the whole thing was pure dress-up. Really, all I fetishized were those fabulous boots. As we went along, I found myself getting into the ponygirl role. I liked stamping my hooves, snorting, and pulling on the reins to get Red's attention. She even made me whinny a few times. At the end of the parade, a young man introduced himself to me and said that he was a ponyboy. I later learned that he was ponyboy Silk, a major player in the ponyplay scene. I felt guilty, like I had appropriated the horsey fetish only for fun, still convinced that I was not a real ponygirl really into ponyplay.
Ponyplayers are a unique subset of the BDSM community: men and women who are into either being human ponies or owning, training, and riding human ponies. Once clandestine and underground, in the last decade these kinky folks have come out of the stable with their own events, etiquette, and brand of eroticism. Katherine Gates extensively documents ponyplay in her book Deviant Desires: Incredibly Strange Sex (www.deviantdesires.com). With respect and a subjective yet nonjudgmental approach, Gates delves into a world of cart ponies, two-legged and four-legged ponies, and the trainers who handle, ride, and show them: "Outsiders usually assume either that it's about bestiality (absolutely not!), that it's about degradation of the pony, or that the owners routinely whip the pony as part of the play. I suppose a few players feel that it's some kind of humiliation, but the vast majority are quite proud to be ponies."
This particular fetish seems to be as much about the gear as it is about the horse-human connection. Some of the equipment is borrowed from the horse world, like saddles modified to fit human ponies, tails made of real horse-hair, metal and rubber bits, and horse brushes and grooming tools. A cottage industry has formed to cater to ponyplayers, manufacturing bridles for humans, custom-designed corsets and body harnesses, and other solutions to the fascinating challenges of transforming human hands and feet into hooves that are practical and functional.
The erotic elements of ponyplay depend on the people involved: Some get turned on from actually being ridden or from riding a human pony, a fantasy reminiscent of childhood piggyback rides. Others like to transform into an animal, shedding the pressures of humanity for a while. Serious ponygirls and ponyboys might spend an entire weekend at a retreat or a horse show without walking upright or speaking, sleeping on straw and eating from a feedbag. All this may sound freaky, but one of the leading couples in the scene that I met were downright normal.