Updated: May 10
One of my most asked questions is "How do you pony Oliver when you drive Zorro?"
I also have people call and want some piece of equipment that will allow them to tie their second, ponied pony, to the pony that is driving.
So, I guess it's time for a blog post!
First of all, please don't tie your second, ponied pony, to the one that is being driven. This is not a safe idea. Though it seems it would be easier than holding the lead rope, it is not at all. If you don't have a hold of that second pony's rope, any number of things can happen:
the second pony can bite, chew on or thoroughly annoy the pony being driven
the second pony can jump on the pony being driven
the second pony can spook and knock the driven pony around OR
the second pony can spook, scare the driven pony and now you have TWO ponies, one hitched and one not, running away with you, all while only have marginal control of the driven pony and ZERO control of the second pony.
Hopefully, that paints a clear enough picture.
Second of all, it's extremely important that the second pony is properly trained to lead. Over the years, I have had so many ponies come to me for driving training, and though they could wear a halter, and sometimes follow the human, they were in NO WAY actually trained to lead on a lead rope.
This requires that they step forward when there is a little pressure put on the lead rope and they stop when asked.
They understand where they should be when you are leading them. They know when you are asking them to go in front of your or behind you. If your pony doesn't know how to do this, then it's not ready to pony behind a cart.
I use pressure and release, paired with a little clicker training, to teach proper leading. The release is KEY when teaching them to lead. If you don't release when they are correct, but keep on pulling on them, you will instead teach them to lean on the lead rope and drag behind you. Having your second pony be light on the lead rope will help your drive be better for all three of you!
How exactly do I hold my lead rope?
Usually, I hold it in one hand, and that hand manages both the lead rope and one of
my driving lines.
Sometimes, I sit on the lead rope so my hands are free to only manage my driving lines.
Hopefully, you can see the lead rope in the above photo. I pull it forward over my thigh, then run it under my thigh, and back out the back of the seat. This keeps the lead out of the tires. And, also allows for a little bit of pressure to be put on the rope without it pulling loose. If your second pony is well trained to lead then a small amount of pressure is all it takes to get them to keep up. Having it in this position means I can reach a hand back and grab it if I need to, as well.
Do things always go to plan?
No! Sometimes, Oliver gets in the way of the wheel and gets run over a little bit. Usually, he only does this once, in a very great while, and never twice on the same drive.
Sometimes, I run over Oliver's lead rope. Then, I just reach back and grab it on the back side of bike frame. You can see this happen in the video above. We don't even break stride!
Sometimes, Oliver will pull the lead rope out of my hand or out from under my leg. This isn't a big deal for us, as, Oliver is often loose when we drive on the driving track at home. If he gets "loose" I just call him and he comes straight back -sometimes grabbing a mouthful or two of grass on the way- he gets a treat, I grab his lead rope and on we go! If you are worried about what my happen if your second pony gets loose then, I suggest not ponying. Because, at some point it will probably happen! lol.
Sometimes, Oliver wants to be in front of Zorro. I do so much ground driving with the both of them and often with one lead rope, so this is not a big deal for us. Oliver knows whoa, and he is easy to direct so things don't get all rodeo on us. If things do go sideways then, I just let go of his rope!
Ponying is so fun when both ponies cooperate. It's a great way to exercise two ponies at the same time. Having these simple things in place can help you have a more successful drive.