Ponying: the art of leading one horse while riding another

One thing I’ve done with Presto more than any other horse is ponying him.
I chose to start Presto under saddle much later than many of my other horses. Instead of leaving Presto at home or in the pasture I started ponying him.
Ponying is when you leading one horse while riding another.
Ponying is great exercise and it is also a great way to expose a less experienced horse to the world. I always start by teaching the horse I’m going to lead (Presto in this case) to lead very well while I’m leading him myself. This includes teaching him to stay at my shoulder during transitions preferably without me pulling on the rope. This makes it much easier to transition to leading him while I ride another horse.

I also like to teach my horses to work more from my cue stick than from my rope. Sometimes I will use a stick and string with the string removed but I have also found that a driving whip works well too. My goal is to pony my horses out on trails and if I have to rely on the rope the whole time my arms and shoulders get tired. Instead, I teach the horses a back up cue on their chest that can also be used to slow or stop them. I can also use this cue to send the horse behind me when the trail gets very narrow.

Although I plan to mostly walk on the trails I also teach the horses to pony at speed. Speed often triggers emotional responses in horses; play, run, buck, etc and I want to work this out while I’m still in an enclosed area. This better prepares all of us for how to handle unplanned emotional responses that could happen on the trail if a squirrel, deer or dog were to startle the horses.

The less experience horse will often look to the horse you are riding to help gauge the situation. I only choose to use horses that will neck rein well and who are secure themselves out on the trail or wherever I will be ponying.

Presto has improved so much from the many miles he has spend being lead down the trails this year. The first couple of times out he would try to bolt past Willow when he heard anything behind us like a squirrel or a chipmunk…and we have a LOT of those in our woods!
Now he walks quietly enjoying the scenery and looking for tall grass he can snag while walking.
This has been great emotional training and physical strengthening for Presto. He has learned how to balance on hills and how to find good footing among rocks and mud all without the weight of a rider on his back.
Watching Presto improve has given me more reason to believe that he will be a good trail riding horse by the end of the summer.
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I’ve owned Presto now for four years. He has grown so much and I’m finally ready to start sharing his adventures. You can find all of his posts on my website (stacywestfall_com_)
What questions do you have for me about Presto?
#PressonRegardless #Presto #Equithrive

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