Ponying Piper

In a recent post, I wrote about adjusting to life after the death of my oldest horse, Bear. Part of that adjustment is working with my remaining two geldings on staying relaxed while separating.

For a change of pace, I also decided to experiment with ponying Piper while riding Shiloh.

Ponying is something I did on occasion with Bear and Shiloh. I wrote a couple of posts about it, Ponying My Painted Ponies and Ponying Onward. They made a colorful pair of ponies to pony.

Overall, I thought my first attempt at ponying Piper went well. For extra security, we stayed in my horses’ paddock area instead of venturing elsewhere.

Both horses remained calm. There were no dust ups. And all the cones I set out as markers were still standing upright by the time we were done.

At first, I had to do more with the lead rope to encourage Piper to come along with me and Shiloh. But Piper figured out pretty quickly that I was asking him to keep pace with Shiloh while positioning his head somewhere around my leg. Pretty soon I could leave the lead rope mostly slack and Piper just tagged along quietly.

In the photo below, all is good starting out. Here, my husband has just handed Piper off to me and positioned himself to take some photos. Piper is clearly super impressed. He cocks a back leg while we wait for my husband to get situated.

Next, you can see that Piper is still standing with that back leg cocked even as Shiloh and I proceed forward. Now the slack is gone from the rope.

It is a bit of an awkward start, but Piper finally gets the message that I would like him to follow along.

By the time we make a big circle and get back around to the same cone again, we are all moving along with more rhythm and relaxation.

You can see in the beginning photos that Shiloh inverts his head. He didn’t feel tight underneath me, but I think that inversion speaks to a certain level of tension. I imagine that Shiloh wondered how this experiment with Piper was going to go.

Piper is the dominate horse in the pasture. He also has the widest personal bubble of any horse I have had in my backyard to date. Shiloh normally likes to steer clear of him. I anticipated some hesitancy on Shiloh’s part regarding the ponying since it requires the horses to be fairly close to one another.

But Shiloh never tried to move out of Piper’s way, even when Piper made some ugly faces when I would turn Shiloh towards Piper in order to make our circles to the right. It was something I kept a close eye on, but the neck and head posturing from Piper faded as we went along. Pretty soon Shiloh was moving with his more typically relaxed posture.

We used the newly planted tree as a sort of large cone to circle around too. The tree also prefers a wide bubble of personal space so that horses can’t snatch at its leaves! I would like to get a more sightly fence constructed around it. For now, though, this hodge-podge temporary setup is doing the trick.

I find the coordination required to ride one horse quite challenging. So leading one horse while riding another takes me right up to the edge of my skill set. Still, it’s something kind of fun to experiment with from time to time. And it’s a way for me to do something with my two horses without leaving anyone behind in the paddock by themselves. All good fun and good practice.

13 thoughts on “Ponying Piper

  1. Looking good! I use to pony my two horses before the one passed away. Something I had to teach myself as I had never ponied before. πŸ˜€ Zack, my grey gelding had separation anxiety really bad so much so I don’t want that to happen again. So I keep the 2 I have now separated but I’m at a boarding stables. It is definitely a challenge and of course normal to have horses bond together when you have a few at home. I enjoyed your photos too!

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    1. Separation anxiety can definitely cause a lot of problems for horses and humans. It is no fun, as you well know. Ponying IS kind of fun but also a bit crazy at times. Makes me laugh at myself when I get my left and right hands confused. Or almost drop the lead rope. Fortunately both Shiloh and Piper have so far had a good sense of humor about all of it. They likely both are quite aware that I am not the smoothest operator so nothing probably surprises them at this point. πŸ˜ƒ

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  2. Hahaha, these ponies are so smart. I went out on a trail ride with my girlfriend with my 2 horses years ago and she was behind me and we are on the streets here in Norco. I pulled my rein on Chloe and the rein came off! Wait what? So I looped Zacks lead rope around my horn and got off to fix my rein. It was a leather tie that came undone, easy to fix!
    As I took Chloe’s reins to walk her over to a short fence to step up on to mount up I thought Zack would follow along side but instead he saw a patch of grass and pulled that direction which the lead rope just pulled right off the horn and he was loose eating along the side of the road! YIKES! 🀦

    My girlfriend yelled out “Zack is lose!” And I looked back and had to turn Chloe around to get him. Funny thing is, Zack would not have left Chloe’s side for long so I know his being lose really wasn’t a big deal and thankfully this happened after many, many pony trail rides, so I remained calm and didn’t panic. (Zack was hopelessly herd bound to Chloe!) My girlfriend and I started laughing, silly horses. 🀣 Once I got him I tied the lead rope in a slip knot a little snugger so he would stay at her side so I could get on and off we rode!!

    I’ve learned so much with my horses over the years. May Zack be running the fields with your sweet Bear up in heaven! ❀️🐴❀️🐴❀️🐴❀️

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    1. Ha, ha! That is quite the story. Glad it had a safe ending. I suppose in that kind of case that being overly attached to a buddy is a good thing because it likely kept Zach from running for the hills! We have good memories of our dearly departed horses, dont we?

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    1. Oh, man, I hit send too soon on my last reply. Let me repeat and then keep going . . . I don’t mind at all! I liked the story, and I think it’s a wonderful thing to appreciate all the gifts our animals, living or dead, give/gave us. Whether that’s a moment of laughter or a hard lesson. A smile or tears. They connect us to life in a special way. So reminisce away!

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      1. Oops! Haha, I’ve hit send to soon before. I never thought of it that way and it was truly nice to remember that happy fun day!! They truly are gifts, we are all blessed for all our animals (living and in the past) ~ they so enrich our lives!! πŸ’ž

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    1. It’s definitely been fun to mix it up. Doing a ride where I take Shiloh out by himself and then a ponying ride with Piper. We have even experimented with ponying while trotting. I stayed on top of Shiloh, didn’t drop Piper’s rope and we all lived to tell the tale. I’ll probably work that into an upcoming blog post somewhere. πŸ™‚

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  3. I’ve got just the two at home now too, so this is a timely post – with the darker evenings creeping in I’d like to save time (and left behind pony drama) by getting back out ponying, this time with the roles revered and the youngster under saddle acting as lead.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Sounds like the topic of an interesting post! Teaching a young horse to act as the lead. I don’t have any younger or newly started horses, and I’m guessing never will, so it is of interest to me to hear about other folks as they bring their horses along in the training process. Thanks so much for reading and commenting!


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