The Early Morning Dew
First Assignment in The Grooming Barn
I decided, at the risk of appearing stand-offish, that I’d skip the communal supper. I checked with Adam, who said it was fine, since I’d met everyone of consequence already. But he hoped I’d avail myself of the experience most days, since my meals were included with my stay.
I honestly wasn’t that hungry. I was more excited than anything else. I had been prepared for the gear and the submission, and even for Kamal’s expert dominance, though it was eminently impressive.
But I hadn’t been prepared for the raw sexuality and appeal of Puck in the paddock, bent over with his hands clutching the rough wood fence, while a butt plug horse tail was inserted unceremoniously into his rear.
I’d been prepared to be blown away, though. And I was.
I was so impressed by the ranch and so excited about taking photos of these beautiful creatures for six weeks, I wanted to chart out the way I would approach my assignment and figure out a plan.
I’d begin in the grooming barn, because that was where the experience began for the ponyboys. This afternoon, I’d get some shots of the ponyboys with their trainers. Later, I’d take candids in the bunkhouse and the main house. None of these images would include faces or other identifying features.
I could hardly wait to get started.
In the morning, I rose early, showered, and dressed in tan cotton shorts and a blue short sleeve button-down. I pulled on my white chucks, which I’d never be able to wear on an actual horse ranch, but seemed perfect for a day at the BCR—comfortable and hip. I desperately wanted these cute ponyboys to think I was hot. Yes, my mind was on obtaining professional and artistic images of all the dirty details, but I wanted to present an alluring image myself.
Especially when it came to Puck.
I ran into Kamal on the main floor, a cup of coffee in his hand as he made his way along the hall.
“Good morning, Oliver.”
“Good morning, Kamal.”
“There’s fresh coffee in the cafeteria,” he said, with a smile. “And you’ll find cereal in the cupboards, and fruit and milk in the fridge. Help yourself.”
“I’ll be in the front room if you’d like to join me?” he pointed a bit further down the hall.
I grabbed a banana and a cup of coffee and found the room Kamal had spoken of. It was actually at the back of the main house—or the front, I suppose, depending on your perspective—with large windows and comfortable furniture arranged in a pleasant way. Kamal was seated in an armchair by the window, sipping his coffee and making notes on a piece of paper which he folded and put in his pocket when I approached.
“Looks like it’s going to be a beautiful day,” he said cheerfully, tossing his pen onto the wood and black metal coffee table.
“Yes.” I stood at the expansive windows, sipping my coffee and staring out at the green fields and paddocks. The sun glinted off the walls of the grooming barn and arena, and the bunkhouse was only a small brown dot in the distance.
“I take it you’re a city boy?”
I smiled. “Yep. Don’t get out to the wilderness very often.”
“Hmm. I hope you don’t find this place boring. There’s not much to do but enjoy the beauty of nature and play with kinky young men.” He winked.
I laughed. “Mm hm. I figure my work and the…scenery…will keep me entertained.”
Kamal nodded. “What did you think of my contrary ponyboy?” His deep brown eyes pierced me with curiosity.
I shrugged. “You mean Puck?”
“Of course, I mean Puck.”
I laughed and scratched my chin. “Hey, I’m new here. I don’t know how many cranky ones there are.”
“He seemed…pissed off about something. Do you get alot of ponyboys like that?”
“No, not really. Most of them are quite happy to be here, kinking it up, and it’s more of an intense game than anything else.”
“Then again, it’s not uncommon for this type of role play to trigger deeper, unaddressed issues in some men. They think they want to play pony, but they aren’t prepared for the immersive nature of the ranch. Or the demands of trainers like myself.”
“I imagine. You seem very…dedicated.”
Kamal chuckled. “That’s one way of putting it. The ponyboys I train might use a different word.”
I laughed. “Sure. But I bet they like it. For the most part.”
He grinned and sipped his coffee.
I peeled my banana and took a bite, staring out at the sunlit grounds.
I decided to grab my camera and stroll the fields in the early morning, before the trainers and ponyboys began their official duties, to capture the beauty and innocence of the area.
There was dew on the grass and birdsong pervading the cool air, and the heat from the rising sun forecast a steamy day ahead. I spent some time taking shots of the grooming barn and arena from the outside.
Then I walked the dirt track to the bunkhouse and took some shots of it, too, wondering what was going on inside those wood walls. At the moment I was far enough away not to be invading anyone’s privacy. But I hoped to eventually take some non-identifying photos of the men inside, sharing their daily lives with me.
First, I’d have to get to know them.
I aimed my Nikon at the edge of the forest, where squirrels and chipmunks frolicked and antagonized each other, and birds landed on branches to observe the cresting dawn, when the creak of rusty hinges made me glance at the bunkhouse.
A young man emerged into the morning light, and it only took me a second to recognize the dark-haired man I’d seen in the paddock with Kamal the day before.
He took in my presence with a disdainful glare and walked forward, stopping before me with his arms crossed over his chest.
“What are you doing here?” he asked. He was wearing faded jeans with a rip in one knee and a LEGO Star Wars t-shirt, which I couldn’t help finding completely adorable.
I straightened from my crouch and smiled.
“Is it? Yesterday you watched that prick give me my tail, and today you’re creeping around taking pictures of the bunkhouse. You realize we don’t play pony in there, right?”
Jesus, he was a spitfire. Despite our chemical attraction in the paddock, it seemed I’d gotten on his bad side.
“I know. I was only taking shots of the building.”
Puck assessed me, and I think if it hadn’t been strictly forbidden on ranch property, he’d have pulled out a pack of cigarettes and smoked one. He looked me over slowly, not saying a word, his expression stony, as I stood there trying to think of something else to say, since he wasn’t exactly rushing to fill the silence.
“It’s a beautiful morning,” was all I came up with.
Puck didn’t take his eyes off me as he responded. “I guess. I shouldn’t be up this fucking early.”
“I don’t have to be in the grooming barn until one,” Puck said, scratching beside his freckled nose and yawning. “I should have slept in.”
“Why didn’t you?” I asked, trying not to be seduced by this man’s endearing physical form which seemed to belie his ornery soul. But he was fucking sweet-looking, with his soft black hair that curled in the summer heat, and his delicate, freckled nose, lean stature and full mouth. The jewelry in his eyebrow and lower lip glinted in the sunlight.
He didn’t answer right away. Then, miracle of miracles, the hint of a smile and the words, “Really? If you don’t think putting nine guys together in a communal space is going to make for noisy sleeping arrangements, then you’re dumber than I thought.”
I held onto that smile like a lifeline and ignored the derogatory comment.
“Good point,” I said. “Well, since you are up, and I’ve got my camera, would you allow me a few shots?”
He narrowed his eyes. “I don’t want to be identified.”
“Of course,” I nodded. “I only want you from the neck down.”
It took a second for both of us to register what I’d said. Puck smiled slowly and I felt the heat rise in my cheeks as I scrambled to dissemble. I cleared my throat.
“I mean, I’ll only photograph you from behind or from the neck down. That’s all I meant.”
He regarded me curiously, and again I saw an invisible cigarette dangle from his lips. He was that cool. He radiated it. Although I had the feeling it was an intentional deflection from more unstable emotions.
“Are you sure?” he asked. There was no teasing this time. It seemed like a sincere inquiry and I struggled to answer it with the same honesty.
“No,” I said, “But as far as my photographic license goes, I’m not allowed to take a photo of your face.” I hesitated, looking at the ground, then glancing back up. “As much as I’d maybe like to.”
We gazed at each other for several moments. Then he shrugged.
“Whatever. Do what you want. I need to take a piss. You can shoot that if you want.”
“Um. Isn’t there a bathroom inside?”
Puck laughed, turning only slightly to the side as he unzipped his fly and dug his cock out of his pants. “It’s crowded right now with the morning crew. I thought it would be more private out here.” He held my gaze as a jet of bright yellow piss arched out and landed in the grass, steam rising from the shock of heat on the cold morning dew.
I don’t know what possessed me, but I had promised to capture life at the BCR and Puck had given me permission. So I lifted my camera and took a few shots of Puck emptying his bladder onto the ground, as my heart beat hard in my chest.
“Wow,” he said when he’d finished. “You’re dedicated.”
“Yeah, well, you’re gorgeous. Even while pissing onto the ground with a crappy attitude.” I grinned at him in order to temper my words. It was all so true.
He stared at me, I think surprised by my forthright compliment.
“Hmm,” was all he gave me by way of a reply as he tucked himself up and zipped his jeans. He turned away and stepped up to the bunkhouse door and I figured that was it. But he turned back as he grabbed the handle.
“The crappy attitude comes and goes, and the rest is just good genes. How old are you, anyway?”
My mouth went dry as I melted under the fire of his gaze. “Just turned thirty. You?”
He looked me over. “Not that old.” He opened the door and went inside, where I heard the sounds of other men speaking and laughing before the door shut behind him.
Fuck. He’d known right where to hurt me. Whether he’d intended to or not, I didn’t know. Anyway, I was older than he was, obviously. Maybe too old to be interesting. We’d have to see, then.
I may not have been old enough to be real daddy material, but I was old enough to know this boy, perhaps, needed a daddy more than anything else right now. As much as he tried to play it cool, he seemed lost and out of his depth—fragmented and trying to reassemble his identity in this unusual setting. I wanted to comfort and guide him, even though I had no idea if he’d want me to. In fact, after our interaction just now, I knew I’d have to play the long game with him. I’d need to convince him I could be good for him, because he seemed skeptical, at the very least. And I had no doubt there were a few others who were going to make a play for Puck.
But I had six weeks. I was better at marathons than sprints anyway.
I walked back toward the grooming barn, and tried the staff entrance. It was unlocked, so I stepped inside and found Lorraine, the female trainer, writing on the whiteboard with a fat marker.
She smiled at me. “Good morning, Oliver.”
“Good morning,” I said. “Do you mind if I get a shot or two of your hands as you write? Since I’m here? It’s Lorraine, right?”
“Yes. And, no, I don’t mind at all.” She continued to write on the whiteboard as I moved in close beside her so I could shoot over her shoulder.
The cameral clicked as I took several angles of Lorraine’s delicate fingers on the marker, writing basic gear under the name Joshua.
Andrew, Puck and Justin had been in training yesterday afternoon, which meant Joshua, Chris and Lincoln were on this morning. The three attractive men I’d met in the bunkhouse would be naked, and washed and tacked in front of me this morning.
Lorraine put her marker in the tray and turned to me. “I see you are going to be recording every last detail, Oliver.”
I grinned. “That’s my job. Adam wants a record of everyday life on the ranch. So, not always the sexy shots of bare asses and harnesses.”
I recalled shooting Puck’s early morning piss in the dew. Whether that would make it into the official collection, I had no idea. But something told me Adam would appreciate the raw and natural beauty of the moment.
Lorraine nodded and leaned seductively against the rectangular table holding harnesses and efficiently arranged supplies. She looked me over carefully, folding her arms.
“What’s your story, Oliver?”
I felt put on the spot. “Pardon?”
She smiled, flashing her teeth. “I mean, what made you say yes to the opportunity to document the daily life at this kinky place? Hmm? Pure monetary motivation? Curiosity? What?”
I supposed that was a fair question.
“Well, to be honest, I needed something to fill my summer. So there was definitely a monetary component behind it. This is how I make a living, after all.”
“Curiosity? Definitely. How does a place like this exist? How does it run? What do the ponyboys look like in person? How is a ponyboy trained?”
“So many questions,” she said dreamily. “Have you gotten any answers?”
“Starting to. But this place is so detailed—so immersive—it’s probably going to take me the full six weeks to figure it out.”
Not to mention it was going to take the full six weeks to prove to a certain ornery ponyboy that I could show him a few things he might enjoy—and hopefully get him to fall for me during the process.
“Well, you’d better get started, then,” Lorraine said, walking past me to the door and glancing back. “I’m looking forward to seeing what you produce.”
She flashed me a smile and was gone.
I set my camera bag down and unzipped it, pulling out the tripod. Once that was unfolded and situated, I pulled out my Canon EOS R5 and attached the zoom lens, then slotted it onto the tripod. I had taken my older Nikon camera on walkabout earlier and it did a fine job, but for more steady work I liked the pricey Canon model.
The door opened behind me and I turned to see Liv, and a man I hadn’t met yet, enter the grooming barn.
“Hi, Liv. I hope I’m okay to set up in here?” I asked.
“Hey! Yeah, sure. As long as you stay back from the shower area and right beside the table, it should be fine.”
“I might want to come in for some closer shots, but I’ll use my handheld camera for that. I’ll try not to disrupt you too much.”
She smiled. “Adam wants us to accomodate you to the best of our ability. So don’t worry. We’ll let you know pretty quick if we need you to get out of the way.”
I laughed. “Perfect.”
“This is Adrian, by the way. He’s on the morning shift with me this week.”
“Adrian,” I said, by way of greeting.
“Oliver.” He looked me up and down and gave me a quick smile. “You sure you’re up to taking close-ups of sweaty muscles and leaking cocks?”
I blushed. “Um…I’m sure I will be up to it. I’ve done fetish photography before.”
“Ah. An experienced player. I like it.”
“I’ve photographed some stuff. Nothing quite comparable to this, though,” I admitted. “This animal role-play business is new to me.”
I heard the other door to the building creak open, and footsteps sound behind the partition.
“Ponyboys are here. Better get set up,” Adrian said.
I hastened to make some final adjustments to the camera as Liv and Adrian sorted items on the table. I saw the flash of silver and heard the thud of leather, while voices in the other room gradually quieted and the first naked man rounded the corner.
It was Chris, and without his clothes on, he was a blond God.
Thick muscles in his legs and arms, a six-pack that looked like I could bounce a ball off it, and a dick the size of a prize cucumber, made my eyes bug out of my head. But I schooled myself quickly, in order not to appear like an absolute newb. I’d seen a hot guy naked before. And, even with his seemingly physical perfection, Chris’ nude presence didn’t touch me the way Puck’s ethereal beauty had.
I started shooting as he moved to stand beneath the showerhead closest to the left, and Adrian slid in beside him, a black ball gag in his hand. With deft fingers Adrian placed the gag between Chris’ pliant lips and fastened it behind his head.
Chris raised his arms and glanced at me with curiosity. I almost waved but then remembered these men were supposed to be animals or objects once they had entered the grooming space, so I didn’t acknowledge him—just kept taking photos of his body with the zoom lens, following as his wrists were buckled into the hanging cuffs and Lincoln came around the corner.
Lincoln was cute, with a smaller cock than Chris had, but with a streamlined body that would look good on a fashion runway. Adrian quickly gagged Lincoln and attached his wrists to the hanging cuffs above his showerhead and then moved to the table to grab a loofa, as Liv went to deal with Joshua.
Joshua was attractive and imperfect, like Puck, in a way that made my juices flow. His hair was down now and fell past his shoulders in soft brown waves. I wasn’t particularly a fan of long hair, but Joshua pulled it off. His body was thicker than Lincoln’s but not as built as Chris’. He had a boy-next-door naivety that appealed to me. He probably wasn’t naive at all, since he was playing pony on a fetish ranch, but he had the look about him. As Liv placed the ball gag between his teeth I caught a flash of something far from innocent in the gaze he shot me.
After the gags and wrist cuffs, the trainers fastened the men’s penises into the steel cages. It made sense to do this before things got out of hand and the ponyboys became so aroused it made the task impossible. As it was, Adrian struggled a bit with Chris’ massive appendage but managed to stuff it into the large steel trap.
As the consummate professional I professed to be, I zoomed in on this procedure, because it seemed so important to the overall hierarchy of the ponyboys at the BCR as lowly servants and obedient animals. They would presumably be reliant on their trainers for any relief from the confines of these strict restraints.
It would be interesting to see which of these men photographed well, and which didn’t. The camera didn’t love everyone, although usually that was more apparent in portraits. I would be capturing body parts primarily, and more would depend on the angle of a particular shot and the lighting, than on the charisma of the model.
At least, that was the theory.
I took a collection of long shots as the ponyboys were rubbed and scrubbed to cleanliness as my brain appreciated the thoroughness of the stable hands and marvelled at the way the men were treated like animals, to be groomed and prepared for their trainers. It was a wonderful way to get them into the service headspace needed for their sessions.
“Is it all right if I come in a bit closer, Adrian?”
“Sure,” he said. He moved a cloth gently over Chris’ captive privates as the large man closed his eyes dreamily, and widened his legs to allow the stable hand ample access.
I crouched and took shot after shot of Adrian’s skilled hands as they cleaned Chris, front and back, then I got several different angles of the ponyboy’s flushed nude buttocks and legs.
Then I moved on to Lincoln, who waited patiently for one of the stable hands to be done with the others and attend to him. He watched me out of curious eyes, saliva beginning to slide down his chin from the gag. I had to admit, seeing these men like this was a trip–moreso than anything I’d experienced at my other fetish shoots. It seemed more authentic–not just people playing dress-up and experimenting with casual power exchange.
I was the recipient of curious and interested glances from the ponyboys and, occasionally, the stable hands, since it was my first morning and they hadn’t yet gotten used to my presence. I hoped to become a mere part of the landscape eventually, so that I could effectively record what went on at the ranch without becoming a part of it. I was paid to be an observer. I truly wanted to be a fly on the wall when I was behind my camera.
When I wasn’t behind my camera, I’d continue to try to blend in so I’d get an honest idea of the workings of this unique place. I planned to keep a diary of my experiences, so besides the photos, I’d have a personal record of this experience.
From what I’d observed so far, The Braided Crop Ranch was a revelation in kink positivity and individual identity. If I could record even a half of what I’d seen and felt so far, I’d be richer for it.