How do you Pony Your Pony?

Let’s say you’re out riding your mule or horse and leading another next to you. What do you do with the end of the lead rope attached to the animal you’re leading? Do you Bunny Ear it, Under the Leg it or do the Loose Around the Horn thing? Or maybe something else?

Ride one, lead one: here I’m riding my wife Julia’s Haflinger Pickle and ponying my mule Polly. Polly’s carrying a tractor tire. I had a flat on my tractor up the mountain and she’s carrying the repaired tire back up the hill so I can put it back on the tractor. Pony power!

I Was out Ponying my Mules

I recently wrote a piece called Pony Sunday on how I took all three of my mules out for a spin all at once. I rode one, Brick, and lead the other two, Polly and Cracker.

Ponying the Mule Nation

I got a lot of feedback on that piece. Most folks wrote things like (and I’m paraphrasing) “Cool” and “I never knew how to do that until now.” A few wrote back things like (my words, again) “well tucking your lead rope under you leg like that is just crazy. That’s not how we do it with out pack strings out West”.

And of course, both sides were right. There are pros and cons to most anything. Ponying is something I do a lot of so I thought I’d right more about the different ways of doing it, specifically, what to do with the loose end of the lead rope of the animal you’re leading.

Bunny Ear, Under the Leg or Loose Around the Horn?

So you’re riding your horse or mule and leading another one. You might be on a long pack trip or just taking a Sunday stroll. What do you do with end of the lead rope of the horse or mule you’re leading. There’s lots of ways to deal with it but here are three that I used the most:

  • hold it in one of your hands in a loose loop or bunny ear
  • drape around the horn (not wrapped around, draped around) and tuck it under your leg
  • drape around the horn and hold the end loose in your hand.

These methods don’t have official names but I’ll refer to them as the Bunny Ear, Under the Leg or Loose Around the Horn. In coming posts, I’ll talk about the pros and cons of each one. In the meantime, if you have any thoughts on pony, just drop me a line in the Comment section (below).

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Work on the new “Trash to Triumph” book is coming along great. The book is about my 2,200 mile saddle journey from NC to Idaho. The book is currently being edited. Here’s a sentence I thought you’d enjoy about what it’s like to get passed by four tractor trailers while you’re riding one mule and ponying the other up the side of the road:

Seventy two wheels and a quarter million pounds of steel and cargo hurtled by right next to me and the last of the semis’ trailers had created such a huge pocket of negative pressure that it sucked the mules and me right up against the white line.

Want to read more? Just sign up for the Newsletter and I’d be happy to give you a heads up when the book comes out. You can do that right here.


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