Sulky - a ponygirl-powered cart - general overhaul

Author: (c)2002 Tom

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(Promised description of ponyplay commands is in the second half of this article. I recommend you to readthe whole article, so that you can get clearer picture what ponyplayis about. And you will also see a few more pictures this way :-).

Yet another note from the future - today (24.05.2002), I have completed a similar instruction how to build a cross-country sulky.

Two more articles covering the ponyplay theory: pony dressage and pony+sulky

In the Spring of 2002 we resumed our pony training with a sulky,walking and trotting. Then, we went to a volunteer weekend which took place at the farm where PetWeek takes place (see the respective reports of my participation in PetWeek 2001 and our participation in the volunteer weekend 2012), and right after that, another couple started to visit us (and before their visit planned for today I can say their visits are regular); they are not just chatting on the internet, but actually learning what ponyplay is about. They were inspired by us and we were also inspired by them - therefore, it was time to overhaul our sulky. I will describe the modifications below. The second half of this article will describe the commands we use.

The purpose of this article - as far as I know, there no one collected and published information about ponyplay in Czech, except the Ponyplay FAQ (Xkun's translation on my site, with Rider's and mine proofreading, published also at bdsm.cz) and Vlk's article about gaits, which has not been prepared for publication yet (it will contain videosequences shot by Rubberman, which have not been optimized for size yet (a note from future - 2013: ROFLLMAO - oh these times - in 2000-02 when every _kilobyte_ counted, when everytime you pressed the shutter on a camera, it was all-metal and the MIRROR was also metallic)).

Worldwide, the number of people who truly practice ponyplay with carts is limited (because ponyplay as such requires relatively expensive equipment and lots of time, if you want it to look nice AND feel good). It was SO NICE to find out the clubs abroad - England, Germany, Denmark. Look here if you are interested in our first hand experience. Referenced document also includes links to other organizations. Funny thing is that: they all exist today (2014, i.e. 12 years later - this means there were/are/will be SERIOUS PLAYERS). Save for DeFerre, which has been long ago sold to new owners.

Some three weeks ago, on the second visit of the other couple, we rode about a kilometre outdoors, up a steep hill, then rode about a kilometre on top of the hill, and returned to our cars. It was a beautiful day and we were lucky not to meet any impeccable passers-by (with the exception of one car - but we are playing at this location relatively frequently (see a picture of the surroundings of this asphalt road in the forest) andwe meet the same car there often. Sometimes, we meet two or three cars:) Once, a policeman was sitting in one of the cars and we encountered no problems. I have to write this to oppose the views of those who are constantly repeating that outdoor bdsm every day is not possible; some people say bdsm is possible only once a month in clubs - I have no problem with that opinion, I only think those people should frankly tell their partners that they themselves want to play only once a month).

The subbie from the other pair wanted to participate in a race; I do not like the word, 'cause some people use it too often without ever participating in a race; on the other hand, we just love to ride a kilometer, alone, and we do not need competition. But L found out how good she was in the harness in front of the sulky and so she now says she looks forward to the races at PetWeek :-). A classic situation - they forgot to avoid a few glass shards and had a puncture. Anyway, there were too exhausted to ride uphill - inspiration for anyone: when you are not playing, you have to exercise in your free time... do a little stretching, walk the stairs instead of using lifts... OTherwise, you cannot manage the physical demands of long ponyplay scenes. I have to praise L for her attitude - she truly works on herself and managed to pull me up three 100 m long 12% slopes in a row:-)

On our way back, I have pulled the sulky and found out that going down a steep hill is not easy. High step is almost impossible, because the sulky with the driver pushes you down the hill. Without brakes, it is too hard on the pony. I have therefore decided (of course my decision was influenced by looking at the sulky riding next to ours) that: our cart needs brakes, and it needs handles for the driver to have something to hold on to (the latter was an old requirement - L seldom drives the sulky, but when she does, she is sometimes feeling NOT safe when the sulky jumps over the bumps); this was a task several times postponed.

Before the next weekend, a general overhaul of the sulky was due: I had to get some brakes (I could have installed new ones for USD 30, but I prefer reuse of some scrap I can find, because it works as well, and it is sometimes challenging to get the scrap working :-). I had to get the handles, massive round steel profiles onto which the brake handles could be attached. I changed the tyres a week before, because although we had a puncture only once (long ago), I do not want to have to return from our rides sooner than planned.

I always say there are no coincidences: the next day, I went to an used bicycle shop and got a pair of brakes for USD 3, complete with cables, bowdens and levers. The picture also shows a full dia. 25 mm steel profile, which I used to make the handles (the brake levers are mounted onto them and the driver can also hold onto them when necessary); there is also a shining M6 threaded rod (get one in a hardware store), which you need to convert a rear brake (with shorter attachment screw) into a front brake (similarly to the wheels,you need two front brakes to be installed on two front forks).

The first picture shows how to build the handles and convert the rear brake. The narrative in the picture is in Czech, but I doubt that anyone west of the Czech border would use anything else than V-brakes, the "modern" ones, which require no modification as the front and rearbrake looks the same. The second picture shows the sulky after the handles were welded, and just before the first ride, without brakes (we were only testing the position and angle of the handles; we hooked the sulky behind my bicycle and rode throughthe town - we wanted to get to a bumpy meadow near our house). And there is yet another photo taken a day later - the sulky was complete, with brakes. The brake handles are attached to the handles using original steel bands, which held them onto the bicycle handles. Both bowdens are of equal length, they run to the left of the respective shaft (the design is not symmetrical, but this is due to the old brakes).

The sulky was almost overhauled. A week later (a few rides later :-) the snap hooks we had used for years to attach the ends of the shafts to the harness finally failed. I replaced the old snap hooks made of dia. 5 mm steel rod, 4 cm long, which were too weak started to fail recently (not snappng and securing themselves correctly) with a dia.10 mm, 10cm long snap hooks, which I hope will hold for some time :-)

I should add one more thing: the weight lifter's belt used as the horse-collar (the harness used to actually pull the sulky) was originally threaded through the snap hooks which are now used to connect the harness to the ends of the shafts. To free the big snap hooks and most of all, to ease the pain which was sometimes caused by the hooks digging into the pony's flanks (the photos scattered throughout this web site show that we love to be naked whenever the circumstances allow), I have riveted two strong leather pads onto the flanks of the harness, and inserted welded steel D-rings between the harness and the pads. I used 4x14mm aluminium rivets with steel washers inserted between the rivet's head and the leather pad (on both sides). The belt is now much more comfortable. (The resulting horse-collar is shown in the following picture, which shows all ponyplay accessories we use.)

If you start building your own sulky, I wish you many happy kilometers!.

Ponyplay with sulky and the basics of dressage

Ponyplay is a discipline of bdsm, in which you can take the relationship between the submissive and the dominant up to total control, if both partners want. The submissive does not have to think in the role, has no worries, just the pleasure of being controlled or of serving the dominant (depends on what gives YOU the kicks). The dominant has to stay in role during the whole scene (and who says it will last only a few hours?) - this is not simple, as the physical contact is limited and the only reward for the dominant is the submissive's pleasure (of course you can cuddle with your pony, or you can be proud of pure exercise, or few kilometers' ride... You can enjoy the nature around you... But most of all (for us), ponyplay is about total control from one side and the pursuit for perfect and automatic response from the other side. You see the results immediately - contrary to ordinary bdsm scenes, you either drive straight or not, you pass the slalom blindfolded or not, you pass the track in one minute or faster... when the submissive is not too hot to jump into the scene, you will know that instantly. This is different from other scenes with mental or rope bondage, other role training with the respective commands, or from punishment scenes, where the submissive can "clench the teeth" and "wear the dominant out". This simply cannot happen with ponyplay...

Ponyplay has many disciplines: you can start with plain care for your pony (combing, grooming, simple lunge training - by the way, this is a pleasant way how to lose some weight :-), to put it simply - you can copy almost everything from the "real horse people".

You can start with basic physical exercises to get into good physical condition and to get some skills you will need later (e.g. for high-stepping, you have to stretch not only the tendons on the tips of your feet, which should point to the ground whenever you lift the "hoof" off the ground, but you have to stretch all tendons on your legs).You can switch from walk to trot, canter or even gallop when lunging. You need a few meters of rein and of course a ring at least 8-10 meters in diameter to start with. As the speed increases, the ring should be wider. You issue commands to change the gait (walk, trot, ...) by cracking the whip in the air, while holding the end of the lunge and standing in the center of the ring. Use an ordinary bullwhip to crack in the air, or use special dressage whip (with long flexible handle and long string on the end of it - it is stylish, easy to crack in rapid succession, but then you need lots of space not to hurt you or the pony when cracking the whip). You can use another special cart whip with long flexible handle and short length (10 cm or so) of plastic rope on the end. This whip cannot be cracked (which can be an advantage when you use it in your garden with neighbours around :-) and thus it is best used by tapping the pony's shoulders or buttocks.

You can dwell on the dressage, i.e. the training of precise control of your pony - single steps, turns on the spot, gaits etc. just like with a real horse. You can practice dressage with a "four legged" (moving on all fours) human pony. It is completely safe, as you cannot fall down, but in my opinion it is not too attractive.

All above mentioned disciplines are totally safe and can be rewarding for both partners (you are close to each other, you can feel the "resonance" between you), some of them are funny on their own. The practices described below include varying degree of risk (of injury - by falling, by sprainig your ankle with just one bad step etc.); it is up on each couple to decide what theywant to do. More advanced disciplines described below also require certain equipment and lots of time and therefore - a sad fact - they are not for everyone.

Shoulder riding: we all heard or read about riding in a saddle fastened onto the back of a "four legged" human horse; I must say that I perceive the speed and elegance of this method... well... "limited". Nothing for me - I will therefore focus on two-legged ponies in the following text. I have seen pictures of saddles fastened onto ponyies' backs, but to ride this way, the ponyhas to bend forward and it does not look good. Horses with saddles on their back, standing on the hind legs, sometimes with horse hooves on all fours, are nice variation which can be seen on shows - I have seen that and it is a nice show, but such horse cannot be ridden. Pony shows are a discipline in itself - no one says the horse or the Master/Mistress cannot enjoy their roles, that their roles are limited, although there is no physical effort necessary.

Finally, I got to the point: our favourite discipline is riding a two-legged horse which moves on the hind legs all the time. You can do shoulder-riding or sulky riding. You can do dressage oryou can be the caretaker. Shoulder-riding requires certain physical condition; you can thinkyou are OK after a 10 minutes ride, but when your spine starts hurting in the evening and hurtsfor three days, you are more careful next time. I've heard of people who had to stop ponyplaying. Also, a 45 kg subbie can hardly carry a 90 kg Master for more than a few meters. And that's playing up, not a sport, I think. Imagine a horse half the size of the rider - it just doesn't look good.

For those reasons, I would recommend the Mistresses to do shoulder-riding, and the Masters to do sulky riding, because any subbie can pull a sulky and the 1.5-2 meters between the horse and the rider wipes off the difference in size. On the other hand, a subtle filly in front of a massive sulky looks very nice.

The commands: when shoulder-riding and also when sulky-riding, the same commands can be used. When sitting on the sulky's seat, you hold the reins and you can pull them back or slightly to the sides. When you sit on the shoulders, you can do exactly the same. You pull the reins towards you, upwards instead of backwards. Pulling slightly to the side is the same. The commands can therefore be the same. In both cases, the horse MUST NOT turn the head - always the whole body turns. Punish your pony for this stupid mistake. Equally to riding a motorcycle - the pillion follows the rider without exceptions! The driver/rider controls. The pillion clings to him/her. The pony obeys. Does NOT "have a mind of his/her own". Break this rule, and you (pillion) will disturb the rider's balance. The cart/motorbike will then do what it is intended to do - respond to your combined commands, with instant, possibly deadly results - depending on the speed you are currently having... SAME with ponyplay, with our without cart; any time you do two-legged ponyplay, you risk your and your partner's health - physical and mental... please keep this in mind. This is not for beginners.

When shoulder-riding, you can ride without a bridle - you can use your legs to press onto the horse's neck or flanks and the horse turns. (E.g. when you want to turn left, you press your leftleg to the horse's flank (and back) and he/she "avoids/escapes" the pressure - turns left).

It is good to make knots on the reins, every 15-20cm, similarly to real horses' reins. This was, the reins do not slip in your hand. It is bad to spoil the horse's responses by uneven pull of the reins on different rides. It is all about creating solid habits and automatic reactions to the respective commands, so do not confuse the horse and yourself by slipping reins. ON PetWeek, I've seen reins with a wooden rod in the middle, so that you could control your horse with one hand only (like a puppet). The control was precise - definitely an interesting idea.

When getting into the saddle, on the shoulders or on the sulky, tap the top of your pony's head with your whip lightly. Real horses need not to prepare for your weight, but human horses do. Even when getting on the sulky, it is good for the pony to spread legs to increase thestability. You will both soon learn how to get on the sulky without pulling or pushing the sulky with the pony a step forward or backward. It does not look good when the sulky or the pony (when you are shoulder-riding) move forward or backward before actually trotting on... The pony can crouch with one knee on the ground and you get on his/her shoulders or onto the sulky. You take the reins and pull slowly and lightly - the pony stands up or places the feet back to each other. You are ready to drive off. The feet (hooves) are touching along the full length, but one knee is slightly bent. During dressage, the driver knows, which leg will move first, which is sometimes important. Sometimes you need to know which leg will move easier into a curve, or which will betaken off the ground first when backing off.

The rest of the commands is simple (but it takes many hours before ponyplay looks naturally and feels good to both the pony and the driver...): one light jerk with both reins means walk, two tugs mean trot. Canter is never used with real horses and light sulkies on the races. You could use three tugs to signal "canter", but I do not think that actual canter would be pleasant to the driver. Canter in fact means that the same leg is always moving in front of the horse, and the other is behind. That can be done when training dressage, but I just do not feel it would look good when sulky-riding, and it definitely would not be safe nor sane when shoulder-riding. Let's say that three tugs could be used for fast trot, but you have your whip to signal that :-) Slowing down is easy - you tug both reins at the same time heavily and hold them back. Sometimes, the horse can feelthat you want to slow down and not to stop if you do not pull back strong enough. In this case, repeat the command. Horses are NOT whipped for not understanding commands. Whipping is used for prompting, for going faster, or to correct extreme misbehaviour.

Turning left/right: one slight(!) jerk on the side to which you want to turn. It depends on the pony in question: you do not jerk the reins when you want to turn with real horse, but when sulky riding, steady pull is sometimes hard to maintain. In such case, you can agree with your partner that jerks will be used instead of pulls. Turning at a spot - you stop first (or you have not moved yet after hooking the pony to the cart) and you use delicate and fast tugs on the reins to signal that you want to turn without moving forward. The pony turns while you are repeating the jerks. This way you can turn at a spot, although real horses are not trained to do this.Backing off - is not used frequently, but can be done when riding real horse in the saddle, when riding a sulky, and is required from the horses which are drawing tree trunks in the forest. So it is not my foolish idea that your pony should be trained to reverse. We use delicate and fast tugs on both reins to signal "reverse". When training dressage, without a sulky, in the dressage rectangle, two half-steps back, with high-stepping, look very nice - I would suggest an agreement with your partner that you will never trot on from a stop; if you agree that you will always start walking (one tug) and then trotting (two tugs), you can reserve "two tugs when stopped" for "one step back".

It is good to have rituals which signal the beginning and the end of a scene, and it is good to have commands, which mean the beginning and the end of a sulky ride. By slow pulling of the reins and holding back, you stop after a ride. By light patting the top of pony's head withyour whip, you signal him/her to spread legs to let you get down from the sulky, or to put you down (when shoulder-riding). You can then continue the scene by combing the horse, or you can work up the situation where you pony is helpless in bondage/harness :-).

You can copy from "real horse people" - you can massage the pony with rolls of straw or special comb... You can buy all original tools in animal supplies shops very cheap, and get them delivered without problems from an e-shop. Special commands can be used when stopped - copied from real horses (one tap with your hand on the calf = rise the hoof so that the knee is bent and its lower surface of the hoof can be inspected/tortured :); it is good to hold your pony around the waist until he/she gets used to the command and can perform it without falling to a side. Another tap = the hoof is laid to the ground. One tap with your hand on the thigh = lift the whole leg just like when high-stepping, and hold it high above the ground. Return the hoof to the ground on next tap. In this case, the toes point down to the ground - the sole is stretched into a downward pointing curve so that it looks nice).

Most of the commands mentioned above work well even without reins, using only your whip to tap the pony's shoulders or flanks (when shoulder-riding, you have to tap the flanks for obvious reasons). I had not invented any whip command to signal Stop, but you will probably use a voice command when not using reins, because you need a safe way of stopping. Shoulder riding wears the pony fast. It is thereforegood to agree that "frfrfrfrfr" means "I've got enough". The pony can let you know he/she's happy with what's going on by merry neighing. Speaking of wearing the pony out, I have carried L 200 - 300 meters without any training when we started our ponyplay scenes. Those 200 - 300 meters included a few sections of fast trot. And by frequent playing, you get even better :-).

To complete this "crash course in ponyplay": a summary photoof almost everything you need for ponyplay (our toys laid on an old saddle blanket from a military saddle we have bought and hanged on thedoor of the pony box we have in our cellar next to the dungeon). The long (red/black) whip can be used for cracking in the air, or for severe punishment when you hit the legs (play safe, avoid eyes!). The whip has long and heavy leather strap; it stings like hell and leaves marks which last for weeks - similarly to marks left by thin and heavy cane. You can get cold sores from its impact. The pain is so strong it takes some time before you realize it. It takes about 5 seconds before you feelyou were hit, and then you want to lay on the ground and cuddle up to yourself. Needless to say - you get a few more lashes within thosefive seconds... Nothing I would particularly like; luckily, L lovessevere pain :-)

Short riding crop can be used to reward (do you love its smell when you hold it in your mouth?) and to punish as well. If you have short shafts on your sulky, the riding crop is the only tool you can use whenyou do not use reins. When you are shoulder-riding, the riding cropis again the only tool you can use. Sometimes it is cool to use blindfold - right after you learn the basics. Trotting fast and not knowing where you're going is a big challenge for the pony. And a big reward for the driver/owner, when the pony finally makes the first step... and then another, and another....

You can use ropes to restrain the human horse's hands arms behind his/her back, but I would suggest ordinary leather cuffs, which are much more comfortable and can be connected using snap hooks to each otheror to the shafts of the sulky. Leather mitts holding both arms parallel behind the back look cool, but there are not many people aroundwho can be restrained this way for more than a few minutes.

The bridle is described in a separate instruction (Czech version, Build your own toys section). I would only like to say that wooden bit is only good for total sadists or fools. Or for people who want to hurt the pony with chippings. The same goes for metal bits - real horses have a gap between the teeth where the bit fits, but people generally don't. So it is best to use a piece of rubber hose with wooden or plastic plugs inserted in the ends, drilled and with set eye screws. Our most recent bit (built about a month ago, when the original bit was destroyed) uses a 25mm dia. rubber hose, 10cm long (it is black in the photograph and cannot be seen well, but I can hardly make a better photo of it) with plastic plugs at both ends, with screw eyes at both ends, connected by a piece of twisted copper wire. The wire sets between the rubber and the plastic, and keeps constant distance between the screw eyes, while at the same time not preventing the bit from being bent.

The sulky was not in the previous picture, but it is pictured in the respective instruction, in several installments in our Photo gallery and also in the text above.

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