Stranger than Fiction
Like always they let us march lock-step, a circumstance we had got used to. Our handlers who walked to our left were holding the reins of their two or three respective girls with slack, at least for the time being. What made our way towards the corrals so challenging was our special footwear. When stilting on your tip toes plus eight centimetres of fake hooves you might be somewhat distracted from synchronising your moves with those of the person in front of you – who is teetering about just like yourself. Okay, to be fair I should mention that only three centimetres of the hooves added to the height, as the toe boxes were partly integrated into them. Not that this detail brought any significant changes to the better. During my first few steps in the tack room certain factors hadn’t occurred to me. But now I was fully aware of how big a mind fuck it was to coordinate your body when it was some twenty centimetres taller than it used to be. I truly considered being motion sick.
“Halt! Left turn!”
As we stood or more precisely swayed in line, the handlers unclipped the reins. Kandrin waited for them to retreat before teaching us No. 1 from her list of many new tricks.
“The first thing you will be learning today is how to present yourself when under bridle. A good pony always adopts a certain posture when standing still.”
There it was again, mentioned in passing and easy to miss. Pony. How carelessly I had reacted with a mixture of annoyance and ignorance when having been called that earlier. And how this term had changed its ring during the last half an hour.
“The command is ‘stay’. Feet together, legs straight, knees locked. Chin high, eyes fixed on an imaginary point in the far.”
Our handlers checked whether we were following Miss Cuntling’s crisp instructions to an acceptable degree.
“Head a bit higher,” Kendrick advised Sixteen, tapping her under the chin with a folded lunge whip (one of many new terms I was to learn around here).
“That’s too high, Seventeen.”
He slapped the back of my head softly and stepped back, scrutinising me.
“Have you got bow legs?”
I haven’t. I pressed my knees together, but then recalled what a good pony would do first.
My handler was clearly pleased. I hadn’t much opportunity to bath in his benevolence, though, for Kandrin made another announcement.
“The way your arms are positioned helps emphasising you chests. Overall, your bearing must be serene, yet with visible body tension.”
Yes, yes, I would be serene yet visibly body-tensed. Just to get that nonsense over with!
They had us stand like statues some more, then ordered us to trot in place. Small clouds of dust emerged from underneath our freakish boots and drifted lazily away. Over the sound of the horse shoes hammering the ground, Miss Cuntling raised her voice once again.
“This dressage movement is called the piaffe – or it would be if you could be bothered to put some grace into it. Right now it just means to give you a feeling for your new hooves.”
I disliked the connotations that came with the term “dressage”: loss of control and free will, somebody else’s will being forced upon one, debasement to the point of performing tricks to entertain spectators. And in the same breath I scolded myself for my prissy indignation.
Alex, you dumb cunt, what did you think would happen in an equine-themed boot camp?!
I was a filly, bound to be broken in. Number seventeen of the third group of the first year. And right now I was learning my first couple of tricks, if I liked it or not. Trot, trot. The boots’ weight really made itself felt in my legs, and my fellow fillies were experiencing similar effects. What had started as an acceptable rhythm for our collective piaffe became more and more atonal. I glanced at our group leader for any sign from her to end this both grinding and ridiculous display.
Kandrin was leaning against the gate of the nearest corral with arms akimbo. But several times she moved a hand to her mouth to cover a grin. How glad I was that I could contribute to her amusement. The helpless anger only added to my general misery. Between panting I made slurping noises as I tried to keep my saliva within my bitted mouth. I loathed the bit. Within minutes the wretched thing had become intolerable. Not only did it increase drooling considerably, it also held my mouth open and pinned my tongue down, thus making swallowing an incredibly wearisome task. The unyielding pressure on the corners of my mouth would very soon become a source of sorrow, too, so much I could tell already. When it came to bridling a pony, Kendrick wasn’t acting coy.
All of us stood still at once. Kandrin made a gesture, and our handlers took over, fitting us with reins again.
We were split up to the strange thingies the handlers had been working on earlier. They resembled small metal gallows with four horizontal elements each. Said elements radiated out from the vertical part as if betokening the cardinal points. Bad memories of a whipping post came to mind.
Kendrick used our reins to tether Fifteen, Sixteen and me to the contraption he was in charge of, each one to her own gibbet. The fourth stayed empty.
“Fillies, meet the hot walker.”
Hello, hot walker.
He fiddled about with a remote control, and the thingy started to turn slowly, pulling us with it. We had to follow. The motor was rather strong, capable of dragging a pony (read: us) along on her bridle. I wasn’t too eager to try that out. Our handler found himself a nice spot some metres away and readied his whip. It was long enough to reach us as we passed by, yet I hoped to be spared any undue punishment. Unlike other staff members I could name, Kendrick was quite zen.
The whole routine was called lungeing. Actually, it was the replacement for lungeing, a semi-automated version of it. On this merry-go-round we were to learn our gaits. There were essentially four of them, without exception highly stylised and laid down to the last detail.
“The walk is the easiest gait, so it’s ideal to establish some basic manners as well.”
He repeated the ones from earlier; head high, back straight, being graceful as fuck. The next one was a bit trickier: Once in pony mode, or “under bridle”, as Miss Cuntling had put it, it was imperative that each and every step be performed as a high step.
“During a high step your thigh is parallel to the ground and draws a right angle with your lower leg. There may be modifications later due to requirements of the different gaits. But for now this will do.”
This was totally bonkers! But exactly that might be the whole point: making us do ridiculous stuff over and over again. Breaking us in to do whatever they came up with, no matter how silly or debasing or useless it might be. And ultimately: obey every command without questioning it.
As we pony-walked our never-ending path, Kendrick corrected our moves and bearings with a flick of his lunge whip to the corresponding parts whenever necessary. The sensation wasn’t overly sharp, but it let one know the tip had made contact. High-stepping in the buff in mechanically enforced circles on dusty ground under a brilliant sun isn’t as much fun as it sounds like. I decided for myself to meet this trial with a stoic attitude and to gain my daily dose of schadenfreude from Sixteen’s whiny sounds.
During my laps I became aware of how frustrating my tongue’s trapped position was. One is so used to move their tongue, be it for talking, swallowing or just unconsciously wetting one’s lips, that it becomes downright tormenting if this ability is taken away. The steel bit was mean enough without the rocker, but this little addition granted an extra amount of mind fuck.
Speaking of which: With six more hot walkers on the premises I got an unhindered and – sadly – prolonged view at pony boots in action. I didn’t want to watch, yet I couldn’t keep myself from doing it nonetheless. I like shoes as much as the next girl. And yes, fuck yes, my fellow fillies did look sexy in those boots. Weird, but sexy. The knowledge that their attire was mirroring my own only fuelled my ambivalent feelings.
Their feet in perfect line with their lower legs; the sternness of nearly knee-high leather; arms and mouths rendered helpless by unspeakable contraptions – all these abetted the idea of being physically transformed. We were being altered into something non-human, into blank templates, ready to receive a new, conformable imprint.
Maybe I should stop looking at naked girls in fetish gear.
Next on the list was the trot. Our handler outlined the key elements before increasing the rpm. The trot would be the gait requested most from us due to its good speed to exertion ratio as well as its general appeal.
“I want to see an easy, yet vibrant jogging.”
My reins tightened as the hot walker sped up. Needless to say I sped up with it.
“As always: back straight. You, too, Sixteen.”
I heard her squeal behind me. Kendrick had given her a good one. Truth be told, I was in a bit of a struggle myself. The quicker pace made it harder to keep the balance, and my cursed, shoulder-wrenching single sleeve prevented any help from the arms. My core and leg muscles was all I could work with.
As I had suspected, the ballet boots became very rough on the toes, though the instep of a correctly laced boot took a fair amount of load. I presumed that none of us was a trained ballerina, and that without some weight distribution injuries would be inevitable.
I was panting freely when our handler switched the speed back to walk, as freely as I could with my frigging bit. Thanks to that bloody thing I couldn’t hold my saliva back. My chin was already wet, and drool dropped in long threads onto my breasts, where it mixed with the thin layer of sweat and dust. I hope they would groom us afterwards.
“The next gait is a bit tricky,” Kendrick announced as we were pony-walking like we had learnt it earlier. “Performing the canter requires an asymmetrical course of motions. Doing this correctly whilst minding balance and posture may be difficult to manage. But there’s no sense in accustom you to anything else than the correct way.”
I had a rather clear idea of the measures by which this correct way would be enforced.
For us filly-girls cantering meant a refined form of skipping. It was supposed to simulate what was called “leading”, a certain aspect of how real horses moved their legs during this gait. That, or they were bullshitting us big time. I brought my left foot in front, then let my right foot meet it. Then again; a step with the left, a half-step with the right. The unnatural, highly artistic pattern was actually helping to maintain a rhythm, but oh girl, was it wringing my core muscles!
Kendrick might be zen, but his lunge whip still stung like a bitch. Every sloppily performed high step resulted in an undercut to the back of the thigh. The first few ones had been reminders, just indicating the flaws. They had been meant to overcome our ignorance. The smarting ones we were receiving now aimed at overcoming our forgetfulness. I didn’t want to be at the whip’s business end if our handler decided stubbornness to be the obstacle to overcome. He made us switch skipping order, so now the right leg would be leading. Then we were to switch back. Again and again. More and more quickly, until there was no break within our gait at all (Kendrick referred to it as a flying lead change).
To my chagrin Miss Cuntling was strolling through between the hot walkers, judging the progress here and there, only to stop by at our trio at last. That bitch’s smugness was exactly what I needed right now! I just waited for her to sneer sadistically and order Kendrick to push us harder. I almost hoped for it, willing to bear the additional physical distress just to have my low opinion of her proven. Alas, she contributed not more than a few low-voiced words, to which Kendrick checked his watch and nodded.
Whatever they had discussed, it didn’t change anything in our training regime. Round and round we went. Always counter-clockwise. Our handler was keeping us on our toes, pun intended. Sweat was dripping into my eyes, the sound of my laboured breathing mixed with the pounding of our hooves and the whirring motor inside the hot walker’s base. We were to switch back and forth between trot and canter. Kendrick took his time improving our gaits, gradually demanding more without whipping the lesson bluntly into us. Poor high stepping was rigorously corrected by now, whereas a mistake during, say, the flying lead change entailed a more lenient reaction so far. His approach almost gave this whole weirdness a hint of logic. I stood under the impression that his experience was predating the DACC project significantly. What followed was the disturbing assumption that there had been occasions prior to Deepfall to refine those very special training skills.
Between the stints in the faster gaits we were allowed to recover a bit during walking. Every second was thankfully welcomed since those unnatural ways of moving really took their toll. I was slavering over the bit, with my chest now completely drenched. A couple of drool drops had run down to my belly button and even further, tickling me inappropriately. The taste of steel and rubber in my mouth was nauseating to a degree that I was close to being sick right in front of Kendrick. Where I wasn’t wet from saliva, I was wet from sweat. And everywhere I was wet the dust from the sandy ground was sticking to. I was a mess.
One more gait was on the list, and even with my very limited understanding of horsemanship I knew what it would be.
“In nature, the gallop can roughly be described as a faster version of the canter. Around here, it’s a sped-up trot. You’ll have to really lean into it, so your body and your thighs will draw an angle smaller than the classic ninety degrees during high-stepping. Closer to sixty or even forty-five, depending on how hard you’ll be raced.”
I had expected the gallop, basically because I’d already known the word. But the “being raced” part really spoiled it for me.
This quickly turned out to be a rhetorical question since the hot walker was already accelerating. Kendrick hadn’t been kidding about the necessity to lean in. One can run only so fast with the torso upright and arms fixed behind the back. When the hot walker had reached its designated speed there was no other way for us to keep up than putting as much weight to the front as possible. On the upside the high stepping became more natural in this pose. But my toes were killing me, and so were my air ways! Each step resembled a hammer blow to my foot bones. Strands of saliva were literally flying from my mouth, but I was drooling so hard that I breathed drops of fluid back in. They tried with persistent malevolence to trigger my gag reflex as they hit the entrance to my throat. The bit prevented me from spitting, the chin strap from opening my mouth further. To top things off, my lungs felt like being placed in a vice. I had no idea how long I could hold that pace.
Something slumped behind me. Grunts and a dragging noise followed. With my numbed mind I did not immediately comprehend what had happened nor had I noticed Kendrick stopping the hot walker. So I overtook my tether bar and was brought to a halt by the exquisite pain of the thin steel bit smashing into the corners of my mouth.
Gasping and moaning I looked around, only to see Sixteen kneeling in the sand (the reins were just long enough for her to do that). Kendrick was at her at once yet found the time to give me a lash across my thighs.
“Stay! Eyes front!”
With a squeal I assumed the requested position. Behind me the handler tended to Sixteen, who I recon had gone hypoglycaemic. After all she hadn’t eaten anything during the last thirty or so hours. The girl was given sugar cubes and sips of some isotonic stuff (she later lamented her ordeal in great details, and mentioned Kendrick’s counter measures in the course). Miss Cuntling closed in moments later, demanding a report, which led to a low-voiced discussion with Kendrick. As far as I was able to overhear it, our handler stated concerns about Sixteen’s ability to continue. He did not release her from the hot walker, though, which would have set some sort of a precedent. But the remaining twenty minutes we never went faster than trot.
I almost cried with relief as Kendrick stopped the hot walker for lunch. I was hungry, I was thirsty, and I was exhausted. But all these sensations were second to being glad to have overcome the lungeing, which had been by far the weirdest and most gruelling part of my captivity – until further experiences.
The pony play gaits portrayed in this chapter are based upon descriptions found at http://www.cpony.com: