Teresa Noelle Roberts
Roving (or is that Raving?) Reporter
During the 12 Days of Christmas madness here on Lust Bites, Deanna posted six lovely pictures of pony girls. Inspired by the discussion the pictures provoked, I bravely volunteered to attend a workshop on pony play at a local fetish event where I was doing a reading.
Okay, I’ll be honest. I was already planning on going to the workshop out of curiosity. I had no experience with pony play, but several things about it intrigued me: the ritual aspects for both sub and dom; the playfulness underlying the ritual (it’s Let’s Pretend for grown-ups!); the baroque and bizarre costuming (hoof-shaped shoes! tails! intricate leather harnesses!); the idea of being groomed and trained. Even the wordlessness is curiously appealing to someone who spends so much time immersed in language. And besides, you never know when some editor might decide she wants a pony play story to round out an anthology and that yours truly is just the person to write it. (I’ve had equally weird things happen in my writing career.)
So this past weekend I boldly ventured to “Pony Play 101,” taught by La Dresseuse Maureen. A dresseuse is to dressage as a masseuse is to massage, and this particular one is apparently well-known in the close-knit world of pony play. (If, like myself, you missed the horse stage growing up, the dictionary definition of dressage is “the art or method of training a horse in obedience and in precision of movement,” which only takes one word change to sound pretty damn hot to anyone fond of BDSM erotica.)
I figured I’d observe, ask a few questions, gain a better understanding of this kink and what it means to the people who do it, and then come home and write something on the theme of “Isn’t the variety of ways people can get turned on fascinating?”
But I found myself more intrigued than I expected.
There were three “demo ponies,” two men that Maureen is training and one woman. The woman caught my eye immediately because of her costume. She had intricate tack, with designs embossed in her leather harness, leather roses on her bit so she looked like she was clamping a rose between her teeth, a plume on her head, and a glorious tail. (Contrary to the impression you might get from looking at fetish photography, the tails are rarely in the form of a butt-plug, because butt-plugs and running around aren’t the best combination. The people who actually play at being ponies, rather than just enjoying dressing up, have tails attached to their tack.) And best of all, from a costume-buff’s standpoint, she had fascinating carved wooden hooves—not just on her feet, but hoof-mitts on her hands as well. She was obviously proud of herself and her beautiful gear and pleased as could be to be shown off in public.
But one of the men really captured my attention. His gear wasn’t as impressive as the woman’s or the other man’s, and while he had a pleasant face, he wasn’t some well-muscled stud you’d yearn to see in an outfit that consisted of a wide belt, three leather straps, and a loincloth. But once Maureen slipped the bridle on his head and took his reins, he glowed. He trotted and cantered about the room, responding to her commands. (Commands given in French, by the way. She often speaks French to her human ponies because, as she puts it, real horses don’t understand English: it helps the would-be equines get into a horselike frame of mind where they follow body language and tone more than actual words). At rest, he nuzzled his head against her like an affectionate horse would to “his human,” ate treats from her hand. And while he did all this, this ordinary-looking man was transformed into something other than his mundane self. As a pony, he carried himself with pride and grace. And there was such affection and trust between him and his trainer that it was beautiful to see. It wasn’t overtly sexual, but it was wonderfully intimate and sensual—which I hadn’t expected.
Hrrm, thought I, I’m starting to get this. Let’s listen and watch a little more.
Maureen explained and demonstrated how she trained her “ponies” to work blindfolded, so as to develop complete trust in her control. She talked about the different ways to play, how it could be quite athletic (“the fetish fitness program” was how she described) if you wanted it to be, and how many pony and trainer pairs enjoyed entering competitions at large fetish events, so there were elements of exhibitionism and playful rivalry. She stressed that the BDSM aspect, for her and her ponies, was about surrender and control, but that some trainers liked to apply the riding crop or dressage whip liberally and some ponies found that an important part of the experience. She talked about how, with special shoulder saddles that distributed weight like a good backpack, even a fairly small human pony could give rides. (I looked over at my beloved, a good eight inches taller than me and roughly twice my weight, and mouthed, “No way!”) She talked about training them to pull light carts, and where to find or how to build the carts. And all the while the ponies waited patiently, nickering and shivering with pleasure when she scritched or groomed them.
And when she put them through their paces, you could practically taste how much fun both pony and trainer were having.
After seeing that, I had to try it. For Lust Bites. For science. And because I couldn’t live with myself if I didn’t satisfy my curiosity.
It was only for about five minutes—I’d gone to the class from my reading, wearing a slinky dress that didn’t lend itself to cantering and prancing about.
But I learned a lot in that short time.
I learned that when you feel that leather harness on your head—it’s modified pony tack and is quite heavy—you’re either going to immediately say “Get that thing off me!” or find yourself slipping into a different mindset, not dissimilar to the way a bondage-lover feels when the cuffs or ropes go on. I learned that when you have a bridle in your mouth, you’re effectively gagged—and that once I fought through my initial panic at being forced to shut up, that was pretty hot. I learned that taking directions from the way my beloved manipulated the reins attached to my head harness wasn’t easy at first, but it was a great exercise in trust and in taking and yielding control. This was hours ago and I swear I can still feel the connection between us, that we’re moving in sync like we did when he held my reins.
Would I do it again? I’m not ready to invest hundreds of dollars in fancy tack and custom-made hooves, however sexy they look—but a nice bit and bridle might be a good addition to the toy collection.
* * *
While we’re on the subject of fantasies you might not have thought of, let me bring up two words that don’t seem to go together: underwater bondage.
Yes, you read that right.
I imagine many of us have messed around in the pool, gotten friendly in the Jacuzzi, enjoyed a secluded stretch of shore with a special someone, or acquired bruises while trying to fit two writhing bodies into one standard bathtub. It’s something a little different, but not scarily so. A little naughty, especially if you do it somewhere you might get caught, yet somehow wholesome. Playing in the water is freeing, sensual, a back-to-nature thing even if you’re a pool. Even if everyone isn’t getting it on in the water, it’s obvious from reading erotica and watching mainstream porn that it’s a pretty common variation. There’s a lot of gently erotic underwater photography as well—it makes for pretty pictures.
And then there’s bondage…We get bondage here at Lust Bites. (Personally, I get it every chance I can.) Even if we’re not interested ourselves, we understand the appeal of being confined, constricted, restricted, unable to resist all the horrible (i.e., wonderful) torments that some handsome leather-clad brute wants to inflict upon you…
Sorry, got a bit distracted here. What I meant to say was playing in the water is about freedom, while bondage is about constriction, restriction, stretching one’s limits.
Underwater bondage stretches limits in an even more extreme way. It’s not something most of us are prepared to try at home, lacking a large and very private pool, a scuba tank or two, and a few safety spotters, not to mention a top who really knows his or her stuff (experienced lifeguards preferred). But like most edgy kinks, it’s found a home on the Internet.
Websites such as waterbondage.com and rubaqua.com cater to this fascination. Some of the sites feature models in rubber or latex, combining two kinks, or playing with scuba gear and buddy-breathing devices, Some involve dunking intricately bound models—holding them in the water just long enough to give the effect of risk without any real risk—or hosing them down with cold water so they’re soaked and shivering as well as tied up. (Maybe on a really hot, humid summer day. Otherwise, no thanks.) Many, though, are just tied-up women (and sometimes men) bobbing in a swimming pool, or anchored to the bottom of a pool, apparently holding their breath for a really long time.
Okay, attractive naked person+water+bondage=pretty photo opportunities. But to the person who’s seeing this as more than just another sexy picture, who’s seriously kinked this way, what’s the lure?
In a 2004 interview at http://www.eros-guide.com/articles/2004-03-09/speliotis/, erotic photographer and bondage aficionado Stephen Speliotis said, “To me, it is a natural progression of where I want to go with bondage: it's a challenge, it's dangerous and yet when we can master all of the elements, it's beautiful. […] I see being underwater wrapped in rope as metaphorically going back to the womb, being attached to mother's umbilical cord, a life line that can feed and nourish life in one moment and wrap around our neck and take a life in the next.”
Very poetic and I can follow the logic. But I didn’t want some stranger to have the last word on this issue. So I turned to my friend A. (short for AquaMan and not short for anything related to his actual name), who gets pleasantly distracted by the sound of an aquarium pump and has been known to walk into a hotel lobby, sniff the air and say, in a dreamy tone I usually reserve for bookstores and excellent chocolate, “I smell a pool.” A.’s one of the smartest people I know, and I figured I could trust him to give me the goods.
His answer was similar to that of Mr. Speliotis. “You know the turn-ons about bondage: the surrender, the trust, putting yourself in someone’s hands? This magnifies those elements. It requires several people to ‘spot.’ The dom has to be absolutely there, absolutely focused. And the sub has to surrender completely and have complete trust in the top and helpers, because there’s real risk involved.”
And suddenly I got a little shivery and pretended to be distracted by the cat. (Neither A. nor the cat bought my pretense, by the way.) I got it. If you like being controlled, having even the power to breathe for yourself taken away is the ultimate state.
Mind you, I don’t see myself offering to be anchored to the bottom of a swimming pool any time soon—but now I understand why some people do.
Monday, January 14, 2008
Teresa Noelle Roberts
Posted by TeresaNoelleRoberts at 2:00 AM