This article was originally printed in THE S & M NEWS vol 5/#10 (October 1998)
Copyright Carter Stevens 1998 All rights reserved.
Erotic Thoroughbreds Show - A Review
by Laurenz@luna.net (Laurenz) "special correspondent for the S&M News"
You want me to do *what*?
You want me to get to Hartford CT to cover the first annual Erotic Thoroughbreds Show? Hartford? CONNECTICUT?? And you want pictures? All right, ALL RIGHT! Let me pack up the car, grab a stack of model releases and I'm outta' here.
I suddenly find myself flying over the back roads of New York to the Mass Turnpike, NPR blasting the latest news about Monica and Bill, a Titan Rocket exploding, the stock market, when suddenly I think "Wait a minute: How do I write about this cutting edge BDSM behavior? Some people in the scene have no clue as to the appeal of pet play. Some think it's demeaning. Some simply do not approve. So *how* do I explain it?"
I decide that I'm not going to explain it, the promoters and the participants are. (See Buck's comments on page 10 of this issue, see the participants comments in next month's edition of the S&M News)
Buck and Louise from The Water Hole Custom Leather Inc., in East Hartford CT, (Reach them at 1-800-390-6674 or on the web at http://www.water-hole.com) have been long time fans of pet play, and decided to produce this event because no one else had.
"For the past few years, we kept hearing people say we ought to have an event," says Buck. "I got tired of waiting for someone else to do it so I did it. With the help of The Project 100 Gay Community Center here in East Hartford, CT, where the event was held, and without whom the event would never have been possible, we were able to pull it off"
So what happened at this event?
We arrived at 9:00 AM. (What? Who does any D/s activity at THAT hour of the morning? Think of The Project 100 building as a good sized gymnasium with gym floors, tall ceilings and a large stage (which in this case was appropriately festooned with bales of hay). A colorful banner proclaiming "Erotic Thoroughbreds Show" completed the picture
People began to drift in and soon, most of the 150+ attendees had arrived. We found several changing rooms, and I immediately felt as if I was back stage at a fashion show, complete with handlers helping their nervous pets into their gear, combing their tails, adjusting tresses. There was even variety; though ponies were by far the largest representative beasts, we had a few big cats, several kitties, and one stray dog..... a cute little guy :))
There was a pen/pound for pets who strayed from their Trainers. Surprisingly, "straying" was not commonplace; Trainers seemed to watch their pets, attentive to their needs, adjusting kneepads and gear where necessary. Pets remained tethered to their Trainer's leads, both Dominant and submissive luxuriating, yes reveling in the bond that they had, one with another, sharing this bond with others feeling the same way.
What can I say? It was a love feast: pets and Trainers communicating their closeness, all of us communicating our sense of community.
Pets were paraded, the whole gym-type floor used (no basketball today, thank you very much), carefully avoiding interfering with others being exercised, yet recognizing the talents so clearly evident in the others. Some pulled their owners in a magnificent human pony cart (crafted by Buck), some of the sturdier ponies gave saddled pony rides. For many others, this was not only their first "outing" as pets, but in some cases their first outing as submissives (One told me "this is the first time I have been naked in public and I love it !"). That it was a first for many was not unusual either. No one could recall attending an event of this nature.
All were welcomed at approximately 11:00 AM by Buck and Louise, Judges were introduced, among them, John Warren of Boston Dungeon Society, and Trainers brought forth their prized possessions for the judges review. Some addressed the gathering. One couple flew in from Germany, giving this event an international touch.
Trainers and pets were then allowed to show what they do best... dressage, steeplechase jumping, exhibitions of graceful movement and other pet specific behavior. The two kitties even got into the act, having been instructed to amuse us all with a *large* cat-ball toy (yes, I heard a jingling bell inside).
Competitions were staged.... in one, blindfolded pets needed to find their Trainers by voice command only. The focus was definitely on fun. I saw nothing non-consensual, and very little of what I would personally refer to as pet abuse.
The winners were announced, we broke for dinner, most exhausted from the efforts put forth, but exhibiting "a good tired". Some caught 40 winks...
In a short time, the gym had been converted. The climbing ropes we may have remembered as hanging from the High School Gym were replaced by heavy chains, and in no time approximately 85 celebrants were ready to make use of them as well as several other play stations. The play party began by a demonstration by our German visitors who showed us what they do 'across the pond'. Interestingly they exhibited a difference: we were focused on our beasts as riding pets while they focused on theirs as cart bearers. This truly was an international event.
The play party itself was one of the most energetic that I had ever encountered. MasterR (Trainer of stoneponey) commented "It almost seemed like everyone was so gentle and loving during the day that they simply had to get *very* serious that night." By approximately 11:00 PM my new playmate and I closed up the place with a caning. I am sure I heard someone say "You don't have to go home but you can't stay here..."
The ride home was too early in the AM, but I had plenty to report and reflect on as the Buick hummed along:
So, speaking as a participant and not a contributing writer, why was I so interested in pet play?
Because it represents freedom for the Dominant.... freedom for the submissive. No one has to make idle chit-chat, we can stand close, take in the other person's aura.... we don't have to make social pleasantries, or be politically correct
"You want me to do *what*?"
Buck and Louise, owners of Waterhole Custom Leathers in East Hartford, CT, promoted the First Annual Erotic Thoroughbreds Show at Project 100 in Hartford, CT. Buck is well versed in pony play as you will see in the following interview, and also crafts the most wonderful whips, floggers and pony gear... Nothing seems beyond this man's talents. Check out this interview with him as well as their catalog at http://www.water-hole.com.
S&M News: Why/how did you get started with pet play ?
Buck: I got started myself over 9 years ago when I was playing with a wonderful Lady. One night she had me on all fours. She hopped on my back and said "Giddy up, pony!" then later petted me and rubbed me down while telling me how good her pony was. The whole experience seemed so wonderful! Going to parties with her, we would replicate this play, and this in turn attracted a great deal of attention which we both liked. Every time I went as a pony it seemed to attract warmth and kindness from every one around me. This couldn't help but make me feel really fine. You see, when I first started playing and was her slave, there was nothing special _ I was just one of the crowd, so to speak. Being a pony felt special and is what drew me into the pony role. I have since discovered that there are more ponies than other pets but all are in the same category. Our play is very similar but yet so different. It's a wonderful mix.
S&M News: What kind of mental attitude do you need to get started? To follow through with it?
BUCK: For me all it takes is for the person I am playing with to say "Come here, my pony," and I melt right into role. It's such a wonderful place to be and does not take much stimulus to get me there, provided that stimulus is from the right person. When I am in between Trainers, it takes a bit longer and some times it's impossible to get totally into role. But once I have played pony with a new Trainer a few times, then just a couple of words transform me and I really do not want to come back to the real world.
S&M News: In regular D/s a person may feel they need certain "toys" like a crop, floggers, and/or canes to live the experience the way that they want to. What kind of physical gear do you need for your speciality of pet play?
Pony play can get very expensive. I hand-make these items, and believe me, I know!
What I recommend to people is that they use rope to make simple bridles, halters and tack items while they experiment to see if they are going to like this kind of play or not. Once you have decided that it is for you, then start buying your gear.
For ponies a halter is a must. A pony's halter can be looked at as the same as a slave's collar. Ponies get different types of harness for different types of play. A pony's' harness is usually not only designed for looks but also to control the ponies behavior and to help train them to do certain tasks. For example, if having the head held proudly up is a goal, then the harness may be designed so the pony has no choice but to hold the head up. For Buck his tack is designed for what he does, which is a combination of saddle pony and cart pony. He has a halter, collar, wrist cuffs, ankle cuffs, knee cuffs, and elbow cuffs, which are for control and to hold him in what ever position his Trainer requires. In addition, his waist belt works in two ways;
(1) It acts like a weight lifters belt to assist him when doing saddle rides ... Buck can lift people up to 200 pounds on his two legs.
(2) It also covers all the vital organs in the abdomen.
Buck's snap-on jock pouch gives him some modesty and also holds his tail in place. It also gives the Trainer control because she can take off the cover any time she wants.. Then there is Buck's saddle, and his cart. Total retail value of all his gear adds up to just under $3000.00. Can you see why I recommend that newcomers to this kind of play start with rope, to see if it is for them?
That's because one must be dedicated to make the effort to want to be a pony. Once you have decided this is truly what you want, then purchasing quality gear should be seen as an investment just as *real* horse gear is an investment. And, as with real horses, your gear should be of good quality so you only have to buy it once.
By the way, Dogs and cats also have collars. For those pets, after the collar, the most expense goes into costumes.
S&M News: What are your goals, if you can verbalize them, and how much time/training has been required to achieve them?
Buck: My goals are most likely different than others. As we saw at the Erotic Thoroughbreds Show here in Hartford, there are a variety of training methods and all looked great, as well as being effective.
My goals are that when I play as a pony, I want to *be* that pony, "Buck". I want to leave this real world I live in every day and go to my special place where it is very relaxing, calm, and well, wonderful !
I have other personal goals such as to educating people about pony play and helping others be aware of its existence, in a positive and re-enforcing way. There is still a great deal of educating still to be done. It is clearly a total commitment between pony and Trainer because ponies are 100% under the Trainer's control; They have no speech abilities nor can use their hands. Once in tack they remain there (physically and mentally) until the Trainer takes them out. A pony must rely on the Trainer for everything, eating, sleeping, bathroom needs, yes, everything. The pony gives up control to the Trainer in a way that is different from other Dominant/submissive relationships. There is also not as much S&M activity involved (from my perspective, anyway) though a pony will be disciplined to help him learn new behaviors and become a better pony.
S&M News: Why is it a turn on for you, something that you feel is worth the effort to excel at? (Perhaps..... do you see it as a sport as much as a D/s activity?)
Sport? Yes. For me it is very competitive. One reason I picked being a saddle pony is that there did not seem to be as many saddle ponies around. Each time I attempt to handle more and more weight, so if we look at sport as doing your personal best, at excelling yourself, then yes, that would make sense for me.
What really turns me on is the loss of control. In real life I am in total control of everything around me (running my own business and my home life). As Buck the pony, I get a chance to let all this go, to let some one else take care of me / control me (and my environment). In one night of play I feel like I have had a weeks vacation! It is so relaxing, a great stress reliever, and really very special.
S&M News: Can you recommend any reference material for those who are new to yet interested in exploring pet play?
Buck: There are some books on pony play but they seem to be mostly fantasy role playing. In my opinion, that will lead your mind further into fantasy than reality, and may not be a good thing if you want to get serious.
I tell people who ask me this question that if they want to be a pony (or a Trainer) then go view real horses and watch their actions. Ask yourself: What appeals to me about their movements and behaviors? When you understand that, then copy the parts that you feel comfortable doing. It's a bad idea to push yourself (or anyone else) into ALL aspects of a pony as some parts may not fit everyone's style, physical or psychological makeup. As no two ponies are alike, similarly no two people are alike.
In short see as much as possible and then follow what intrigues you. As in anything, you have to do what comes natural .... find the natural pony within you. Train to bring that natural pony out.
Don't try to fit in to what someone says is *THE way* to be a pony or Trainer. Doing what comes natural, will be the easiest and most comfortable way to proceed.
S&M News: Tell us a bit about the event itself. For example, how did you think up the games and events?
This was a lot of fun and not really work at all. We wanted the day to be fun, not a work out and we wanted as many pets as possible to win.
S&M News: Did you have any regrets of the day?
The only one I had was that because I was so involved with putting on the event, picking the judges, and the games, and because there was a good chance that I probably would have had the most gear (I do hand make it all), I decided not to let Buck compete but instead let him be a host for the day. Honestly speaking, Buck *really* wanted to compete, but this would have been unfair
S&M News: Why did you decide to host an event called "Erotic Thoroughbreds"?
Buck: When trying to think up a name we decided it had to cover all animals (so as not to eliminate anyone's preference of what animal they might see themselves as). Our definition of thoroughbred was any animal or person that showed breeding, perhaps training. This seem to fit all animals and Trainers alike.
S&M News: It had to be a labor of love, yes?
Buck: Yes, indeed it was. I wanted to provide an environment so that every one into their role could spend a whole day *in* role. And it seemed to work out just right.
S&M News: Tell us about The Water Hole Custom Leathers. What type of services do you provide?
The Water Hole provides restraints, harness, equipment, whips , paddles, and..... You name it. 50% of our business is all custom work, making those items you can not seem to find. This also has made us one of the Top 10 in pony gear (as pony items need to be tailored to fit the individual pony exactly). It is best to come in for a fitting, but we can do it with measurements and a drawing of what a customer might be looking for.
S&M News: What are the most popular items that you make?
Oh, head harnesses, black (sheep lined) cuffs, and pony tack seem to be the most popular.
S&M News: What is the most unique piece you have created?
There were probably two of them;
My first one was the modular pony head harness. It is a very complex unit and modular parts can be added or removed from the base unit as one desires.
Second are my pony hooves. To my knowledge no one else carries either of these items, unless they purchase them from one of many other stores and web sites for whom I serve as a supplier.
S&M News: Tell us a bit about the cart that you created and had available at the show.
When I was designing the cart, I wanted it to be more than just a sulky. Perhaps as I was coming from the B&D S&M lifestyle, but I wanted it to be a throne ... more than just a seat on wheels. Also it had to be able to work in doorways, so the wheel base is only 30" wide to fit through most doors. I am proud of the balance ratio: only 10% of the trainers weight and cart is on the pony. and the whole cart only weighs 71 lbs. It comes apart with 8 bolts for shipping.
S&M News: How can people reach you and Louise?
Folks can call us tool-free at 1-800-390-6674 or visit us on the web at http://www.water-hole.com
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