A Revealing Orientation
Just How Much Lube Does a Pony Play Ranch Need?
I pulled into the parking lot of the main house at The Braided Crop Ranch at one forty-five on Wednesday, July twelfth, after buzzing through at the gate.
By this time, I was practically salivating to get my eyes on an in-the-flesh ponyboy. I had waited almost three months for this opportunity, and I couldn’t wait to start taking pictures of the pretty boys on this ranch.
As I slid my car into a parking spot—there were only a handful of vehicles in the dirt-covered lot—the front door opened and a well-dressed, dark-haired, man came out to wave to me.
I turned off the engine and stepped out of the car, glad to be able to stretch my legs and almost vibrating with excitement and energy. The noise of cicadas filled my ears as the July sun burned down on me, and I wondered if I should have brought some kind of hat. Adam had said they took the ponyboys outside as often as they could when the weather was fair.
I looked up to see the man walking toward me, and barely had time to acknowledge to myself how attractive he was in an old-world, fifties movie star, type way before he offered his hand for me to shake.
“Oliver. Welcome to The Braided Crop Ranch! We’re so glad to have you join us,” Adam Marsland stated in an affable tenor. I felt eminently welcomed by his beaming smile.
I shook his hand and matched his smile. “Great to finally meet you, Adam.” I gazed up at the large modern farmhouse with generous windows and cheerful paint. “So this is The Braided Crop Ranch.”
Adam laughed. “This is the parking lot and the main house—the most boring and utilitarian parts of the BCR. But we’ll start there. You can get settled in your room and I’ll take you for an orientation around the grounds.”
“I’m looking forward to that,” I said, rubbing my forehead where sweat had gathered already, and squinting in the sunshine.
“Did you bring a hat? You may be outside quite a bit.”
“Uh, that’s one thing I forgot. I’m sure there’s more. But I brought all my camera equipment, which is the important thing,” I said as we walked up the steps.
Adam opened the door for me. “I can grab you a ball cap from the gift shop.”
Gift shop? Jesus, this place seemed to have everything. Naked men playing pony, beautiful scenery, nice lodgings, and a gift shop. Colour me impressed.
The entry opened up to a bright hallway that reminded me of the bottom floor of an office building—clean and professional.
“Stay here. I’ll be right back,” Adam said, putting a friendly hand on my shoulder briefly and moving down the hall to the left of me. I noticed a young man, whose disembodied voice had no doubt buzzed me in, at a desk to the right, speaking in low tones on a desk phone. He waved to me with a smile that I returned, then kept talking into the phone and typing on his computer.
The soft whir of an air conditioner sounded and I noticed that the ambient temperature in here was much more comfortable than outside. Thank goodness.
Adam returned and handed me a navy blue ball cap with BCR embroidered across the front in swirly red script. “This should do for now.”
“Thanks,” I said, taking it from him. My first souvenir.
“Come and meet Connor,” Adam said, leading me down the hall.
Connor replaced the phone receiver and stood, giving me another smile and offering his hand. “Hi, Oliver.”
“Connor,” I said, shaking his hand. He looked to be in his mid-twenties and wore a pair of chinos and a short-sleeve white button-down.
“How was the drive?” he asked.
I shrugged. “Long and boring. But okay.”
“You didn’t get lost?”
“No. Your instructions were excellent.” I glanced at Adam. “You’ve got the perfect, secluded set-up, here.”
“You haven’t even seen the best parts of our ranch, Oliver. Why don’t you get settled in your room? Connor can help you bring your equipment in.” He reached over Connor’s desk and grabbed something, passing me a room key. “Number eight, on the second floor. Connor will show you.”
“Thanks.” I adjusted the strap on the ball cap so it fit snugly.
“I’ll be in my office,” He gestured to an open door behind Connor’s area. “Come and get me when you’re ready for your walkabout. I’m excited to show you how the ranch works and why it’s so special. You won’t need your camera. I want you to get a feel for things before you start.” He winked.
“Sure,” I said.
Connor came around and we walked outside to my car. I opened the trunk and hauled out my suitcase. “If you don’t mind carrying this, I can bring the camera equipment.”
“Sure,” Connor said.
I brought out the large canvas tote bag containing my cameras, lenses and tripod, and shut the trunk, making sure the car was locked, even though I was confident they didn’t get many people wandering through here without an invitation. There wasn’t much in my car to steal, either.
“How long have you worked at the BCR, Connor?” I asked.
He followed me up the front steps.
“It’s been a couple of years now.”
“Adam seems like a great guy.”
“He’s amazing. The ranch is amazing. You’ll like it here. The trainers are awesome and the ponyboys are so much fun.”
I grinned. “I can’t wait to see them in action.”
“Yeah, I don’t think you’re prepared for what you’re going to see, honestly. I don’t think anyone would be.” He laughed, and his cheeks flushed.
“Well, I guess that’s my job. To try to capture the essence of ponyboy life on the ranch. So that people who don’t have the luxury of visiting the BCR, can experience it as much as possible.”
We carried the bags up to my room and Connor helped put them inside.
“This looks very comfortable. Thanks, Connor.”
“No problem. Kamal, Lorraine and Adam are on this floor, Michael, Hiro and Liv on the next. You’ll probably bump into them here and you’ll see them at the communal suppers, too. Everyone should be very welcoming. We know you’re here to take photos and we’re all excited about that.” He smiled. “Some of us may have googled you.”
I laughed. “I would expect no less.”
“You take incredibly sexy pictures of fruit. I can’t wait to see what you do with the ponyboys.”
I blushed, because neither could I. “Thanks. It’s a living, you know.”
I hefted my duffle bag onto the bed and unzipped it, taking out my gear and checking to make sure everything was as it should be. There was a spot in the corner by the dresser, where I could stash the tripod, and I put the expensive camera gear out on one end of the dresser so it was easily accessible. I plugged in the cord for my laptop and set it to charge on the small side table. They hadn’t requested my phone yet, but I imagined Adam would confiscate it before we left the house, so I kept it with me.
I had to piss and I was impressed by the cleanliness and finishes in the full bathroom. There was a walk-in shower, toilet, vanity and modern sink, as well as a medicine cabinet. Utilitarian but also pretty. Better than the one I had at home that desperately needed updating.
I glanced at myself in the mirror. The ball cap made me look younger than thirty, so I figured I’d keep using it, although I’d have to swing it around while taking photos, or even remove it. It was soft enough I could stuff it in my back pocket if needed and the brim flipped up, too. I looked even younger when I turned it around, so, yeah, that was a bonus. I might be halfway through my thirty-first year but I was damn well gonna channel some youthful energy during this assignment.
Not that I wanted to hook up. I needed to keep things professional. But that didn’t mean I didn’t want to present a tempting option for these kinky ponyboys. It would be an ego boost to be the sexy, talented photographer they all wanted, but couldn’t have.
Lol. As if.
I shook my head at my reflection. Was there any end to my narcissistic delusions?
Downstairs, I nodded to Connor and knocked on Adam’s open door.
“You ready?” he asked.
“I think so,” I grinned. “Probably not. But I’d better get a glimpse into life at The Braided Crop Ranch so I can form an action plan.”
Adam stood and moved around his desk. “I’ll just need to give your phone to Connor, if you don’t mind. He keeps them under lock and key in a special drawer.”
“Sure.” I passed it over.
After doing that, we headed the other way down the hall, past what looked like a cafeteria, to a door at the back, which Adam pushed open onto a wide, wrap-around porch.
“Wow,” I said as we stepped out. Green grass stretched ahead of us, bordered by thick forest and interspersed with several wood structures.
“This is it,” Adam said.
“It’s beautiful. What a lovely spot.”
We walked across the porch and down the three steps.
“I’ll take you to the grooming barn, first. You can see the space where our stable hands prepare the ponyboys.”
My mouth went dry. “Okay.”
As we crossed the first stretch of grass to a large, square building, my eyes were drawn to distant figures in one of the paddocks. I couldn’t distinguish anything but movement and the number of people, which seemed to be three.
“Looks like one of the trainers has ponyboys outside already,” Adam said. He pointed to a door marked PONIES. “This is where the ponyboys go to get undressed and ready for the session.” He pulled open the door and gestured for me to enter.
I stepped into something reminiscent of a gym changing area. One wall was lined with lockers and long benches, and hooks for bags or wet coats. Three pairs of shoes were left undone on one of the benches – a set of dusty red chucks, a pair of brown Blundstones and some orange flip flops, presumably belonging to the ponyboys in action this morning.
“There are two sessions per day. One in the morning and another in the afternoon. Ponyboys are assigned to one or the other each week,” Adam explained. He gestured for me to follow him around a short wall to the other side of the grooming barn, where I was brought up short by the sight of three shower-heads over a tiled floorspace.
“Whoa,” I said. “Jesus.”
My eyes were drawn to the rubber wrist cuffs hanging above each one.
“They’re bound in here? Naked?” I said, mouth dry, and brain already processing images of water-soaked flesh.
Adam nodded. “Oh, yes. It helps get them into the submissive headspace they need for their training sessions. They become animals being groomed, rather than humans taking showers.”
“I see.” Or rather, I would see. And I would take photos of the ponyboys from the moment they stepped out of the changing area to the moment they went back to it, if I was permitted.
I tore my eyes from the shower area. “I’ll be able to photograph them in here?”
He nodded. “In this section, yes. Not in the changing space.”
“Sure. Of course.”
The finishes were high-end. The larger room looked like a strange sort of spa or physio clinic, with a wall of cupboards and drawers, a large table strewn with harnesses and other gear in the midst of being cleaned, and a large white-board with names and what looked like instructions scrawled in black sharpie.
The door at the other end of the building opened and a woman with red hair in a ponytail came inside. She was a tiny thing, and not what I expected to see in the grooming barn at a gay ponyplay ranch.
“Hey Adam,” she beamed.
“Liv,” Adam said, “I wondered where everybody was.”
“Sorry. I had to get some more supplies.” She had an armful of bottles. “You know, we really need to put this stuff on tap or something.”
Adam laughed. “That’s not a bad idea, actually.”
She threw me a grin and her eyes flashed with intelligence. “You must be Oliver. Welcome to The Braided Crop Ranch.”
I moved forward and extended my hand. “That’s me.”’
“Thanks. I forgot to bring one.”
“Hold on, I’m juggling a hundred bottles of lube.” She dropped them onto the table, making sure none rolled off, and took my hand. “Did you just arrive?”
“Yes. Adam’s showing me around.”
Liv was dressed in lycra shorts and a tank top, with pink flip-flops on her small feet. Her toes were painted a vibrant shade of orange.
“Oliver’s going to start photographing the ponyboys tomorrow,” Adam said, “But I want him to get a feel for the light and the spaces he’ll be working with.”
“Nice. Sounds like a sweet gig.” She waggled her eyebrows.
I laughed, immediately warming to her. “Yeah. Seems like.”
“He hasn’t seen a ponyboy up close, yet,” Adam said.
“Lorraine has Puck and Justin in the paddock. Kamal came here to get something and then left, so I don’t know where he is but I imagine he’ll be back with Lorraine shortly.”
“I’ll be taking Oliver over there. Hiro’s working with Andrew in the arena?”
Liv nodded. “Yep.”
I glanced at the whiteboard, seeing the names Andrew, Justin, and Puck at the top of each column.
“The trainers write down what gear they want their ponyboys to be wearing when presented to them at the start of their shift,” Adam explained. “It varies from day-to-day, although the body harnesses, collars and cock cages are standard. It’s up to the trainers if they want extras.”
I swallowed thickly. “Extras?”
Liv chuckled. “Bridles, tails, masks. It depends. The first pony show is on Saturday, but it’s pretty basic. The ponyboys won’t be wearing full gear in the shows until the next weekend.”
Full. Gear. What did that even mean? My head swam with questions.
“So, the men are put under the shower heads,” I said, trying to understand fully. “Bound, so they get into the submissive headspace,” I glanced at Adam. “And then, what? Just washed? Or…are there other preparations?”
I didn’t feel like blurting out, “Do you give them enemas?” even though that was what I wanted to know.
“There are douching kits in the bunkhouse, that they can use before they arrive at the grooming barn,” Adam said, perching himself on one corner of the large wooden table. “We decided it would be too messy and invasive to do that here. Although we did consider it at one point.”
I nodded and Liv placed a hand on her chest. “From the bottom of my heart, I thank you, Adam.”
Adam winked at her. “You kids work hard enough without having to do all that as well. And the men probably prefer to do it in relative privacy. Although it might make for an even more debasing experience if it was done in the grooming barn. It was more a matter of timing and hygiene, really. I wouldn’t have any objections other than those two.”
“You are so pragmatic, Adam,” Liv rolled her eyes.
He inclined his head.
“So, what are we going to do with the photographs Oliver will be taking, Adam?” She said, standing up the bottles of lube in an organized way on the table.
He shrugged. “Well, I want to update the website. And Dark Horse Magazine wants to do a feature spread on The Braided Crop Ranch.”
“No shit! That’s amazing!” Liv grinned and me and gave me a thumbs up.
“I…don’t know what that means,” I said. I’d never heard of Dark Horse Magazine.
“Dark Horse Magazine is a leading American fetish publication. We’re hoping a feature can increase our reach. Right now, we’re largely word-of-mouth. It would be nice to have more guys coming up from the States.” Adam stood. “They would normally send a photographer of their own but when they heard you would be up here, they asked if they could use some of the photographs you’ll take. I hope you don’t mind. You’ll receive the standard royalties if the magazine prints them. We can look over the contract they’ve emailed me.”
“Anyway, I don’t want more than one photographer on the ranch at a time. I’m hoping that having you taking your images won’t disrupt the day-to-day operations too much. The last thing I want to do is take the ponyboys out of the headspace they’re in. The more you can make your task fit into the fantasy of pony play, the better.”
I cleared my throat. “Pardon?”
Adam laughed. “I just mean that, while you’re taking your photos, you’ll need to buy-in to the fact that these men want to be seen as ponies when they are in harness. Whether they’re posing for you or they’re in the grooming barn getting bathed and polished, try not to invade that headspace with real-world matters.”
“I think I can do that. Do they have pony names or do I call them by their actual names?”
“They do have pony names but those are only used in the show ring. The trainers use their real first names and you can as well. It makes things easier for everyone and then it’s a kick to use their pony names in the shows.
I was beginning to realize The Braided Crop Ranch was a complex and intricate fetish play space, designed and run for the benefit of the ponyboys, so that they could live in this imaginary, safe space, for the length of their stay.
Adam stood. “Let’s go. I’m sure Liv has work to do, and I need to introduce you to some trainers.”
“Bye, Oliver,” Liv said. “Have fun! I wish I could be introduced to this place all over again. It’s a trip!”
On the short walk to the next, larger outbuilding, I asked Adam about having a female stable hand.
He glanced at me. “You may be surprised to learn we have a female trainer working here.”
“Really.” Connor had mentioned someone named Lorraine and I was definitely curious.
“Yes. Because what the ponyboys do here isn’t entirely sexual. It’s more about being handled and used and asked to perform difficult tasks for the reward of serving your master. Yes, there are some basic sexual rewards and sometimes punishments, but most of this is about dominance, submission, and service.”
By this time, we’d reached the door to the arena, and Adam grabbed the handle. “You ready, Oliver?”
“Fuck, Adam. Yes, I’m ready.”
He was killing me.
He smiled and pulled open the door.
The words, “Hold your head up!”, echoed across the polished wood floors as we stepped inside and Adam closed the door.
My eyes adjusted slowly to the dimmer light as the sounds of boots pounding in a steady rhythm filled the space.
“Good afternoon, Hiro!”
Adam addressed a thick-set man in jodphurs, tall brown boots and a white button-down, with thick black hair and the sliver of a mustache. “How is Andrew doing today?”
As we approached Hiro, his eyes scanned me with curiosity before he smiled at Adam. “Very well for a new recruit. He has a fine form for only his third shift. And I can tell he’s trying.”
While they spoke, I examined the large, indoor area. Natural light from a border of windows directly beneath the ceiling, helped illuminate the space, but the tinting kept out any direct beams, which would make it ideal for creating optimal images.
“Good to hear. This is our resident photographer, Oliver,” Adam said, while my gaze was drawn to the figure moving nearby.
A very slim, but sleekly muscular, young man with shoulder length red hair and an abundance of freckles covering his pale skin, jogged near the outer wall. He wore the body harness and collar I’d seen in the images on the website, as well as the leather forearm cuffs that kept his arms pinioned at his back. His feet, in black Doc Martin boots, struck the floor in measured beats as he tried to keep his head up, maintain his momentum, and avoid falling.
“Welcome to the ranch, Oliver,” Hiro said.
I tore my eyes away from the ponyboy, and smiled at the man who stood a little shorter than both Adam and I.
“Thanks. I’m pleased to meet you, Hiro.” I shook his offered hand. Then my gaze flew back to Andrew.
“This is the first time he’s seen a ponyboy in actuality,” Adam said.
“Oh? Well then. Let’s give you a closer look.” He clapped his hands. “Andrew! Come here and stand for our visitors, please.”
My mouth went dry as the ponyboy jogged quickly over to stop before his trainer.
Andrew’s athletic body was shiny with sweat and rosy with exertion. His chest rose and fell under the leather of his harness as he caught his breath.
“Good boy,” Hiro said, “This is Oliver. He’s going to be taking photos of you and the other ponyboys over the next six weeks while we put you through your paces.”
Andrew swung his gentle-eyed gaze to me and I scrambled for any kind of appropriate response.
“Hi, Andrew,” I said, trying not to stare at his small, flaccid prick in its steel cage and the line of red hair leading down his middle to where his pubes had been trimmed neatly.
Andrew glanced briefly at Hiro, who nodded, before answering. “Hi, Oliver.”
Holy shit. This was already a total mindfuck. Andrew seemed to assess me for a moment, then his gaze settled on his trainer.
“You’ve done well today, Andrew,” Hiro said, tousling the man’s mop of red hair and prompting a relieved expression.
“He looks great,” Adam concurred. “Are you keeping him out of the sun?”
“Yeah,” Hiro admitted, “His pretty pale skin burns too easily. But I’ll try to get him out there when the sun isn’t so high and strong.”
“Good idea. You can ask the stable hands to put extra-strong sunscreen on him, too.”
“I’m going to take Oliver to meet Lorraine and the other ponyboys,” Adam said, laying a hand briefly on Hiro’s shoulder and leading me to another door at the side of the arena.
I followed, glancing back a couple of times to see Hiro speaking softly to Andrew while the ponyboy nodded and shrugged, his breathing seeming to regulate after the short rest.
After the initial excitement of finally seeing a fetish pony up close had dissipated, I felt a bit…let down. Maybe it was because I’d never understood the hoopla about redheads. Andrew’s pale, freckled skin and rust-coloured body hair didn’t do anything for me. Sure, he was good looking, but nothing about his appearance, except for the pony-play accoutrements, interested me in the least.
The leather harness and the armbands, the cock in the cage, the submissive manner, all reinforced the kinky aspect of this roleplay. Although Andrew was attractive, and his body, restrained in such a manner, certainly titillated me, I couldn’t help feeling disappointed in a strange way.
I guess I’d been expecting someone stunningly beautiful and powerful, restrained before a strict and intimidating trainer, when Andrew seemed decidedly placid and Hiro, thought he affected an authority I couldn’t deny, really didn’t seem all that threatening.
I’d been building it up in my head for months, so I supposed it wasn’t that surprising my first ponyboy hadn’t measured up to my expectations. And since I wasn’t new to kink entirely, the strangeness of seeing a man bound in leather was less than it might be for a total neophyte.
As we headed out the other door, back into the warmth of the day, I wondered if any of the ponyboys would measure up to my expectations, or if I’d have to disguise my disappointment with enthusiastic photography. No doubt I’d be able to capture them in such a way as to emphasize the strangeness and uniqueness of their position, and the tantalizing nature of their subservience, enough to satisfy the most casual observer, even if I wasn’t as taken with it all as I’d expected.
Hmm. Hopefully one of the ponyboys in the paddock is more to Oliver’s liking. Next episode posted June 11th!
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