Just because you can’t (or shouldn’t) ride a horse doesn’t mean there isn’t a host of fun activities you can get up to with them! The basics are obvious — extended grooming sessions, hand walking and grazing, and the tried and true classic for any and all horse lovers: simply hanging out. But what about more advanced maneuvers? Riding a horse while also leading a horse, called ‘ponying,’ achieves the goal of not only getting two horses out at once, but also provides a new task for you and your riding horse to learn. But there are, as in most horse activities, multiple boxes that need checking before you’re ready to hit the trails with your two(!) equine friends. Obviously, learning how to pony safely is paramount to everyone’s success, but one of the other things you must ensure is that your ponied horse is up to the task. Making sure that they give to pressure is a big part of that. If the line goes taut on a horse with a pullback spot, there is a big chance you could get in a wreck, and potentially injure one or more of your party. That is why preparation is key.
Not every horse will be a perfect pony candidate, which is the nature of life, but we can say with a great deal of confidence that little Inula might be on her way to claiming that title. Last time Joel was here, he and his horse Shoedog, helped to show Inula the ropes, as it were. We had taught Inula how to tie already, after making sure she understood the fundamentals of giving to pressure, and because she had been doing so well with that, cleared her to try ponying. Joel and his mount are wonderful and experienced teachers, so we knew that Inula was in great hands, and that they would be able to help her if the situation went south, but we weren’t particularly worried. And rightly so — sweet Inula had no problem being led alongside Shoedog. Even when Joel asked for a trot, Inula was quick to understand, coming off the pressure as to not take the slack out of the lead. She enjoyed pets from the saddle, and took the whole process in — very cute — stride.
Even though Inula will not be a riding horse, that does not mean we do not teach her skills she can use to be successful on the ground. Learning to pony is a perfect example of this. Who knows, you might see this little cutie trotting alongside a buddy on the trails one day soon!