“We’re almost there, Miss Chandler,” came the soft call of the incredibly kind cab driver to the female sitting in the back of his cab. The female in question had slept most of the trip from Newmarket to this rather remote location. The cabbie had driven here once before and dropped someone off a few years ago. He still had no idea what the place was.
The female in question, a girl with mid-back length blonde hair and bright green eyes which were currently half-lidded and sleepy, looked up. She offered a bit of a smile at the cabbie as she pushed off the armrest of the cab, turning her gaze to the thick forest that passed them by as they descended into the ‘heart’ of a large forested area south of Newmarket. She looked utterly exhausted in how she slumped her seat. After all, it had been two connecting flights and a three-hour cab ride to get to this point. Part of her hoped there was at least a soft bed waiting for her upon arrival…
…A bed? Who was she kidding? She doubted there was a bed available for anyone like her where she was going.
The cab rounded a bend that encircled a large pond overflowing with all sorts of wildlife, slowing down a little to let the female appreciate the sight. The countryside in the UK was beautiful to behold. A small smile came across the girl's face as she stared out over the pond. Then they were turning away, onto a long dirt lane which twisted its way into the forest, ending in a small roundabout in front of a tall metal gate. Laser-cut into it in a striking and plain design was the name ‘Tall Tails’. She stared at the name through her window and breathed in deeply. This was it. The culmination of two months worth of emails. Her last chance to back out. She stared at the gates, her mind wandering.
“You sure this is where you want to be dropped off? I could buzz the gate, it looks pretty far in.”
The girl shook her head, “No no. This is the place. I was told to get dropped off at the gates. I appreciate you driving me out so far Aaron!” She offered a bright and kind smile.
“Not a problem. I drove a young lady out here a few years back. She was kinda like you, wouldn’t tell me what the place was. Wanna drop a poor cabbie a hint or two?” Aaron asked, tousling his brown hair a little bit.
She tapped her chin thoughtfully for a moment, “Let’s just say, it’s a facility for animals.” She said this as she opened her door, walking to the already popped trunk and tugging her large green duffle bag out, and slinging it over one shoulder. She paused a moment, unzipping a pocket on the end of it and fishing out a small black clutch embossed with a green four-leaf clover.
“How much was the trip again?” She called around the side of the cab.
“It works out to one hundred and fifteen pounds and 54 pence. But for you, let’s just call it one hundred and fifteen.”
She walked up to the driver's window of the cab, digging a handful of bills out of her wallet and offering it to him, “Don’t count it. Consider it a tip for amazing service. It was a pleasure meeting you! Have a safe drive back to Newmarket, kay?”
She pushed her wallet back into her bag and zipped it up. The name ‘Alexandria Chandler’ is emblazoned on it in silver lettering. It looked like it had been done by hand. The cabbie said his goodbyes and drove off, Alexandria standing and watching until the cab disappeared around the first bend and then turning to regard the huge gates and the panel beside them holding a dialing pad. She didn’t immediately go to the pad, instead moving up to the gates and trying to see if there were any cracks she could peek into. There was none, unfortunately. With a slight huff, she walked to the dial pad, digging a slip of paper out of her pocket and dialing the numbers in sequence.
‘91, 183, 26…’
She mumbled the numbers to herself as she pressed them.
The small speaker rang idly for a few moments before a woman's voice came through in a rather stern tone, “Name and purpose please.”
Alexandria wrinkled her nose a little, “Jeesh…Could ask nicely you know…” She mumbled.
“I could ask nicely. And yet, I asked firmly. Name and purpose, please.”
Alexandria stared at the small speaker, her cheeks flushed. How had she heard that so easily? Perhaps it was a sensitive microph—
“Look, name and purpose. I can’t sit here all day.”
Alexandria sighed, “Sorry. My name is Alexandria Chandler, I’m here for a uhm…interview and trial? At least I think this is the right place.”
The sound of papers being flipped through could be heard on the other end of the speaker for a long moment before the voice responded, “Hm…I don’t seem to have an Alexandria Chandler on here. Is there any other name it might be under?” The voice seemed to have a hint of amusement in it.
She couldn’t help but squirm slightly on the spot. She was pretty sure she knew the answer to this riddle but she wasn’t fully prepared to say it just yet. It had been a requirement of her being allowed to come to this place. There was a long moment of silence before the voice spoke for her, “I have a Clover here…Registered to attend for an interview and trial.”
She huffed slightly and nodded.
“I can’t see you nodding. Use your words.”
Clearly, this was a normal situation, “Yes. That’s the one. That’s me.”
“Good girl. Gates are going to open, straight down the avenue and to the front door of the house. Cell phone goes in the provided bin. One of the maids will show you to the waiting area. Welcome to Tall Tails, Clover.”
There was a click and static as the person on the other end hung up, followed by an audible groan as the gate's mechanical components kicked into action, opening them both in a slow arch and revealing…
…a very long dirt driveway with high hedges on either side of it and cameras placed on small poles rising from the hedges. Alexandria sighed loudly, “C’mon…I just want to see the place. Why all the secrecy?” She asked with a bit of a huff. She slung her duffle bag over one shoulder. The laneway had to be almost two kilometers long. She was regretting not taking her suitcase that had wheels. But for some reason, they were forbidden here. Wheels must be dangerous or something…
She stopped just inside the gate, looking over her shoulder towards the turn where the cab had disappeared. Now really was her last chance to go back home and forget this whole trip. She wondered how many others had stood in this very spot and had second thoughts? Well, she wasn’t going to be one of the ones that turned away. This was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity after all. She took a step forward to the large building in the distance, behind her the gates creaked shut almost like they understood her decision.
The walk down the laneway was a surprisingly hard one. She had a heavy duffle bag to carry and on top of that, the laneway seemed to be on a very slight upward angle which made her extremely sore by the time she got to the circular roundabout in front of the large old-looking mansion. It was like it had been plucked straight out of an old movie with striking pillars, beautiful bricked walls, and a cobblestone pathway leading up to the front doors. The hedges on either side of the laneway had split off and stopped at the corner on each side of the house, blocking any sort of view past the mansion.
To the right of the door was what looked like an old-school mail carrier that held newspapers. On the front in black lettering was the word, ‘Cell phones here. This was one of the biggest rules that had been explained to her before coming. No phones were permitted on the property and she’d have to forfeit hers to be allowed on-site. She grasped the handle of the curious box and opened the front. Inside was a chute that ran downward at a slight angle. She could only see as far as the light went. She tugged her old-school-looking flip phone from her pocket and rolled it over in her hand for a second. There was a time when the idea of giving up her phone would induce anxiety, even now she was having second thoughts.
“Just toss it in,” came a sharp voice from a speaker above the door. This made Alexandria jump and fumble her phone, dropping it right into the chute. She stared as it slid down and disappeared into the dark noiselessly. She guessed that decision was made for her. She stifled a nervous laugh and closed the front of the box. Turning to the ornate double doors, they were dark oak and inlaid with designs of female forms. It was beautifully etched and she couldn’t help but trace the etchings curiously as she walked up to them.
Alexandria raised a hand and without further hesitation knocked loudly on the double doors.
It was time to see what Tall Tails had in store for her.
It felt like she had waited for ages after knocking. Stuck in that moment of, do I knock again? Or do I wait?
She stood, shuffling from foot to foot nervously, and just as she was second-guessing herself and raising her hand the knock a second time, the left door eased open slowly and a girl whose hair was dyed a vibrant shade of green stepped out. She was dressed in a full maids outfit. Black dress, white apron, black flats. The only difference was that the girl wore black leather cuffs on her wrists and ankles. The maid offered a polite curtsy and smiled at Alexandria.
“Welcome to Tall Tails Miss. Please come inside and I’ll show you to the waiting room.”
The maid turned without another word, disappearing into the well-lit interior. Alexandria hefted her duffle bag over one shoulder and slipped inside what could only be described as a grand hall. It was a huge room with a crystalline chandelier and a staircase leading up to a balcony on either side of the room. Three doors led out from it, one being straight ahead beneath the balcony and one on either side of the room. Beautiful doors with the same relief carvings as the front door were propped open on each of them.
The maid led her into the door to the left into a sitting room with only a single chair and a small table in front of it. It was a sparsely decorated room and its only purpose seemed to be for this singular chair and table. The maid motioned to the chair, “You’ll wait here until Mistress Aria comes to collect you for your interview.”
Alexandria nodded, walking towards the chair. The maid held her hand out to stop her and then reached up, lifting the duffle bag off Alexandria’s shoulder and smiling, “I’ll make sure this is taken care of so you don’t have to keep hefting it around the house, Miss.”
“Oh…Uhm. Thank you! My documents are all in the—”
The maid cut her off, “I’ll take care of it, Miss.” The maid curtsied politely once more and turned, walking out the room the way they came in, the sound of her footsteps echoing through the halls until they were gone.
Alexandria eyed the chair and walked over, sitting down on the plush cushion. It was incredibly soft and barely made so much as a groan as she settled into it. Her sore feet and even more sore back practically groaned in thanks. She leaned back, hanging her head over the back of the chair and letting her eyes roam a bit. The room was sparsely decorated, except for a curious black and white portrait of a woman standing on a chair and no less than a dozen girls dressed in what could only be described as pony tack, standing around her. It was a bit old but the sight of it made Alexandria smile a tiny bit. The owner of this place had been doing this a long time. It certainly made her decision easier to accept.
Alexandria found her eyelids fluttering a little as she stared at the picture. The exhaustion of the long trip and then a 2-kilometer hike up the driveway catching up with her a bit. She hadn’t slept in almost a day and a half now. A mix of excitement and a small child kicking the back of her seat on the plane had made for a very sleepless trip. So as she sat there, eyelids drifting slowly closed and her breathing slowing a little, she was able to find a tiny nap…
It was rather short-lived because just as she got into that state halfway between sleep and awake, a voice found her ears.
“Excuse me. Did you have permission to nap on my chair?” Came a rather firm, but also sing-song voice.
Alexandria opened her eyes quickly to see a woman leaned over her face about a foot from Alexandria’s own. The woman had a soft-featured face that gave off an air of grace and a mane of grey hair. But not grey with age, this mane was lustrous like it had captured starlight. A few pieces framed the woman's face while the rest was tied back in a no-nonsense bun at the back of her head.
“Well?” She repeated simply as the female sleeping on her chair opened her eyes.
“Oh…uhm. Sorry. I must have drifted off. It’s been a long trip…” Alexandria lifted her head from the awkward upside-down angle and turned to face the woman as she stood up.
The woman extended a hand politely to her, “I am Aria, Head Mistress of this stable. You’ll address me as Miss Aria for now.”
Alexandria reached out, shaking hands with the woman and nodding, “It’s nice to meet you, Miss Aria. I’m Alexa—”
The woman cut her off mid-sentence, “Clover. The first rule here, your old name is irrelevant during your stay with us. From this point forward, you will be referred to as Clover. Your previous life outside these stables is irrelevant to your time here. Understood?”
She was a bit taken aback at first, the woman's words pushing her back on her heels a little bit and having her stammering out a rather shy response, “I…uhm…Yes.”
Aria raised an eyebrow curiously, “I’m sorry, I didn’t quite catch that.” She crossed her arms over her chest.
“Yes. Understood, Miss Aria.”
The woman grinned a little bit and patted her on the shoulder, “Good girl. Now come alone, we have quite a bit to discuss before we introduce you to the facility. Forms to sign, documents to check. What a nightmare…” The woman sighed in a playfully dramatic way and motioned for Clover to follow as she slipped out of the room into the grand hall, walking straight across into the door opposite and turning to open an oak door that leads into a beautifully furnished study full of bookshelves holding all sorts of files and books.
Clover followed along quickly, barely having time to take in much of the house before they entered the office. She took a seat in the single chair on the opposite side of the desk when Aria motioned to it before taking a seat at the desk's proper side.
On the desk were a few sets of documents as well as various papers. Clover recognized several of them as her own from her duffle bag. It would seem the maid was quite efficient at her job. There was also her wallet and a small bag of sour apple candies sitting on the desk. Both from her bag.
Aria scooped up the wallet, and opened the bag of candies, popping one into her mouth, “Now, you read the main rules in the email I sent you before coming, right?”
Clover nodded, “I did.”
Aria sighed, “And do you remember, what sorts of items were not allowed into the facility?”
Clover furrowed her brows a little bit as she tried to recall the rule in question, “No Cell phones, outside equipment, outside food…oh.” She stared at the bag.
Aria grinned, “Catch on quick don’t we? I’ll forgive it this time because I’m quite fond of these candies. But if you make a return trip to us. I will not be so forgiving. I hope that is clear.”
“It is Miss Aria. S…Sorry.”
Aria couldn’t help but chuckle a little, “Always so nervous when they first arrive.” She teased as she thumbed through the many documents on the desk, taking a look at most of the ones that Clover had provided she made a slight tsking noise as she looked over a few medical forms. She read over them in silence for a moment before setting them down and sliding a small stack of papers over to Clover, “It seems you’ve brought all the right documents. A few of your shots are out of date, that’s easily fixable.”
Aria folded her hands in her lap and leaned back, “Now before we get to signing any of those documents. Let’s just have a bit of an informal chat, consider it like an interview. To see if you’ll be an ideal fit.”
That familiar feeling of butterflies fluttering around in her stomach was coming back as Clover sat there, Aria’s eyes boring into her like a piece of meat. It was a rather nervous moment for her but she knew she had to do her best here or this whole trip was for nothing, “Sounds good Miss Aria.”
“Well then. You’ve done your research on the place. I’ve got two months of emails from you expressing your interest and excitement. So we know you’re enthusiastic. Now, do you understand what this place is for? What the function of this stable is?” She asked curiously.
Clover reached up, tousling her blonde hair slightly, “It’s a ponygirl training facility.”
Aria nodded, “That’s the simple way to put it. We are an extensive ponygirl training facility, here to care for livestock and enhance their lives as well as our own. While our farm here is fairly secretive and hard to find unless you’re looking, we are open to take in most seeking to dip their toes into a more full-time lifestyle. Something you’ll not oft find at other facilities. Most who come to us, don’t usually leave. You’re one of the few exceptions, opting for a trial phase rather than just taking the leap. Our function here is to train, care for, and house ponygirls. Do you understand why we tend to stay under the radar?”
Clover nodded quickly, “You stay under the radar, to keep a semblance of privacy. I imagine it wouldn’t be very enjoyable to have people knocking on the gates every other day.”
Aria nodded, “Exactly. Hm. You catch on quick. You’ll do well here I think.
The woman flipped through a few more documents until she came to one in particular, “Now. As with all kink-related cultures. We do keep things Safe, Sane, and Consensual here. Nothing will ever be done without your okay. Within reason. I see you’ve listed your safe words on your entry form, they’re not needed. We have other ways to signal we are uncomfortable or need to stop. Which will be explained to you when we get you fitted.” Aria offered a bit of a grin.
Clover tilted her head curiously. A different way to signify a safe word? She wasn’t sure what the woman was implying but as she said, they’d explain it at the right time.
Aria continued suddenly, “Why did you choose Tall Tails over the other facilities dotting the world?”
Why did she choose Tall Tails? It was a fair question. She’d looked over more than a dozen different ponygirl training facilities across the world and for some reason, she’d been drawn to this one. But perhaps not for the reasons most would expect. While Tall Tails had significantly more offered services, perks, and types of training than other places. It had been the response when she’d sent out the initial email that had drawn her in.
“This isn’t to flatter you, Miss Aria. But a big part of it was you. Just in the way you responded to my initial email. I was super nervous writing it and you were both reassuring and encouraging about everything I asked. It hit me the right way and made this seem like the right decision, even if something else seems better. First impressions are a big deal for me and I think you made a really good one on me.” Clover nodded as if to reassure herself of her own words.
Aria couldn’t help but let a wide smile spread across her face, “You know. That’s a refreshing and encouraging answer. Many just say it’s because of our many offered services and facilities. You, on the other hand, based your opinion on the merits of those hired to represent the farm and I can respect that. Thank you, Clover.”
Clover blushed visibly but smiled.
“Next question then. Why Ponyplay? There are many facets of BDSM. And yet you gravitate to perhaps one of the more niche types of play. Care to elaborate as to why?” Aria asked the question as she pulled out a singular form, setting it out in front of her and clasping her hands together.
Yet another sharp question. One that Clover had thought about since she’d discovered petplay and ponyplay as a whole. She wasn’t even sure she had an answer to the question. Not a good one anyway. She looked at Aria with her dark green eyes, the woman met them perhaps a bit intensely. Something about Aria’s stare was hard to keep, she found herself looking down or elsewhere to not have to hold her gaze.
“Honestly. I’m not sure if I have a good answer to that question. I’ve floated around the BDSM scene for a fair few years. Ponyplay was something I stumbled across by accident very early on. It was always something on my mind as I flitted about forums and perused pictures and stories. There’s just something about that change of mindset. The skills that come with it. Something both magical and simple. It’s hard to describe. It’s…”
“…Simple and Unique. While touching on a lot of various kinks? It’s an escape for many, a way to leave themselves behind and become a persona they might not know they have.” Aria offered.
Clover slumped visibly as the woman seemed to pull the words out of her head like a knitter pulling yarn from a ball, “Honestly, that’s about the aptest description I can think of.”
“You’re sure you’ve never done this before? Because you’re saying all the right things.” Aria chuckled. She slid the form in front of her across the table, alongside the other slightly large pile of forms she’d slid over before.
“Now. I want you to understand and think about this decision. Once you sign these papers, you will belong to the farm for the agreed-upon time. You will live, breathe and train as a pony and accept everything that comes with it. Once you read over and sign, you belong to Tall Tails for the next…”
She paused and peeked over the papers in front of her, “Four-day trial period. We don’t usually do trial periods, but I do understand your hesitation in being fresh to everything. Now I’m going to ask my maid why exactly we are getting to the close of our interview and have no tea to drink. Take your time to read things over, don’t take the decision lightly. Giving up your humanity is a big deal.” The woman, while stern, really did care about those who decided to come here. Never once did she want someone to sign those papers and not understand what they were getting into.
Aria turned on her heel and headed out of the room leaving Clover to sit alone with the paperwork and read it over. It was a lot of legal mumbo jumbo alongside a lot of explanation of things she’d be giving up if she entered into a contract with Tall Tails. She was diligent in her reading, going over the fine print and understanding a lot of it was as much for her protection as it was for the facility. She picked up the pen in a shaky hand and rolled it over in her fingers.
One final moment. Her last chance to walk away. For the third time today, it would seem she was faced with a final decision. She pressed the pen to the line at the bottom and started writing an ‘A’ but then paused and let a bit of a smile slip across her lips, She changed the direction and signed the page with the name ‘Clover’ at the bottom, drawing a little four-leaf clover next to it. She let out a slow breath and leaned back in her chair a bit awkwardly as she looked around the office, her eyes falling on a display cabinet holding pictures of various people in pony tack. It would seem Aria kept track of the many ponies over the years.
After a short wait and a tiny dozy nap, Clover was sitting up in her chair again as Aria re-entered the room, not saying a word as she set down a cup of tea in front of Clover and looked at the paper while sipping her own, “Clover. Cute. Seems someone is already leaning into their new name. Good girl.” Aria set down her cup of tea and gathered all the paperwork, tucking it all neatly into a file folder and sliding it into an open space on the bookshelf just above a golden embossed ‘C’ on a little placard.
“Now generally we would get you started today. But I know you expressed the length of your trip and that a small day of recovery would be helpful. Is that still the case?”
Clover rubbed her head a little and nodded, “Yes it’s still the ca—”
It would seem getting interrupted was common here because Aria quickly interjected, “Rule number one Clover. Ponies do NOT speak. They respond in one of two ways. You may stomp your foot once for yet, twice for no. Or make creative use of your body language.” She leaned forward, capturing Clover's gaze with an intense stare, “Is that understood?”
Clover sat there staring for a long moment at the stern and forceful interjection. It would seem she was to understand some things now, rather than later. She opened her mouth to respond but then slowly closed it. Raising a foot and stomping on the floor almost awkwardly. She blushed visibly.
“Good. Don’t worry if it feels awkward. You’ll get used to it.” Aria waved a dismissive hand, suddenly at ease again, “Drink your tea, and then I’ll show you where you’ll be staying for tonight. I’ve made sure you’ll have a lovely view of the facility from your balcony. Well, for now. If I hear you so much as utter a single word before you wake tomorrow, You’ll spend your evening in the basement in the maid's quarters. I assure you, they’re not quite as pleasant as your current room.” She let the ‘threat’ hang in the air and sipped her tea with a curious elegance.
Clover breathed deeply. She’d signed up for this. This is what she’d wanted. While it might be intimidating, there was something intoxicating about the sudden forceful orders. The subtle naming when she’d arrived. The slight teasing. She furrowed her brows a little bit and sipped her tea silently, staring at the now-empty desk.
It would seem it was time for Clover to discover just what it meant to become a pony.
As soon as she’d finished drinking her tea, Clover watched as Aria climbed to her feet and motioned for her to follow, “Come along. Let’s get you settled for the day. It’s still early, but we might as well get you situated before I leave you to your own devices for the day.”
Aria walked out of the room with Clover following closely, letting her eyes wander the halls as they went. They came out into the grand hall and immediately turned, heading up the stairs to the second floor and down the enormous hallway that cut down the center of the mansion. This hall was filled with doors. Each one labelled with a golden placard hung tastefully above the door. A few had curious names upon them like ‘Berry’ and ‘Sunset’. The rest had normal names like ‘Mistress Aria’ on the HUGE set of doors halfway down the hall. Aria stopped in front of this door and turned on her heel to face Clover.
“These are my private quarters. You’d best hope to never see the inside of them, and I’d best not catch you in there either.” She tossed out the comment off handedly and continued walkright right to the end of the hall which ended in a door with a golden placard reading ‘Prospect’ hanging above it. Again, Aria turned and tapped on the door gently, “This is the prospect room, and also your room for the evening. It doesn’t get used very often as we don’t often have trial ponies. Inside, you’ll find your belongings set out, your own private bathroom which I heavily recommend using. That walk down the laneway did you NO favors in terms of how you smell.” She chuckled.
“It also has a balcony that looks over the majority of our training facility. You’ll be able to watch some of the other ponies working down below. But remember, I expect no words out of you. Whinny at them if you must respond to them looking up at you. But not a word.” Aria smiled and leaned down, capturing the gaze of the green eyed blonde for a moment, “You’re allowed to wander for the day. The kitchen is downstairs down the main hall beneath the stairs, I will make sure the cook knows to prep your dinner for you by the evening. No area of the house is off limits except doors with names above them. Those are private rooms. Is all that clear?”
Clover stared back at her, forcing herself to hold the gaze as long as she could before eventually folding and diverting her gaze to the widening grin of Aria as she asked if the instructions were clear. She lifted her foot and stomped it down gently.
Aria nodded, “Well then. I will leave you to your own devices for the day. I’ve got to finish up your paperwork and run a few errands. If you need anything, feel free to ask one of the maids. If you can convey the question without words…” She chuckled and tapped Clover on the nose, “Welcome to Tall Tails Clover. I hope you enjoy your time with us, Pony.” Aria offered her a reassuring smile and then turned on her heel, disappearing down the hall and into her own private quarters leaving Clover to stand there a little awkwardly.
It didn’t take the blonde long to decide on her course of action. Turning and opening the door to her room. The oak door swung open with barely an effort, allowing her into the beautifully furnished room. For a second she felt a bit like a Princess. A large bed with a beautiful silk canopy over it was tucked against the wall on the left side of the room with a hand-carved vanity next to it bearing a few essentials most might enjoy. The wall to the left and right of the door held huge hand-painted canvases bearing artistic representations of Ponygirls in motion. They were quite beautiful and Clover was quick to note the name ‘Aria’ in the bottom corner of each. Clearly the Mistress of the house had more talent than she let on.
Clover took her time kind of exploring each inch of the room, resisting the urge to open up the beautiful glass balcony doors. The sea of green beyond them and the noises filtering in through the pop-out windows on either side of the balcony were hard to resist. But she didn’t want to look.
Clover lowered her head a little and sniffed herself curiously. She wrinkled her nose. Aria hadn’t been joking. Twelve hours on a plane, followed by several in a warm cab with no AC in the middle of summer plus a two kilometer walk down a sloped driveway while hefting an overstuffed duffle bag, had not done her ANY good. She sighed audibly and walked towards the only other door leading out of the room. It opened up into a bathroom more luxurious than she’d seen in her entire life. In one corner was what she could only describe as a glass cube with a sliding glass door and several different nozzles and buttons on one of the two tiled walls within. A shelf in the corner held an assortment of shampoo’s, soap’s and other items. Items she’d note shortly were all for horses. Mane N’ Tail shampoo and Conditioner etc. Etc.
Opposite the glass shower was a long marble countertop with a sink laid flush into it and a large mirror lining the wall. Like a hotel, an assortment of useful items had been laid out all in fresh packaging including a toothbrush, a hair brush, and somehow…her favorite brand of toothpaste. She wondered if that was a coincidence or they’d somehow known? She looks down at her basic black t-shirt, dark blue jeans and the worn out pair of running shoes on her feet and sighed.
She might as well shower. But what would she wear after? That’s when she spotted her dufflebag sitting neatly atop a small fold-out bench next to the shower entrance. Did these people read minds?
She wandered over, a blush coming to her face when she saw the small silvery necklace laid atop her bag. It was on a thin silver chain which came together to two horseshoes holding the word ‘Pony’ between them. It was her own necklace of course, and clearly whomever had brought her bag up had been quite thorough when checking it for contraband. She blushed brightly and set the necklace to the side and opened up her bag, digging around for a few moments.
It would seem everything was here except her wallet and her candies. She pouted a little. She could use one of those candies to calm the butterflies flapping about her stomach right now. She huffed slightly and tugged out a pair of green plaid Pyjamas, a slightly worn out green night-shirt and was about to pull out a towel when she noticed the very fluffy white towel hanging on a wall-rack inside the shower. She shoved her towel back into her bag and turned to lock the bathroom door behind her.
She sat down on a small oak stool next to the sliding glass door, not taking very long to peel off her clothes, right down to nothing. She groaned loudly as she peeled the socks off her already very sore feet. She flexed her feet a little, rubbing her thumbs into the soles for a moment, not knowing how sore her feet were going to be over the next few days.
Stretching a little bit, Clover climbed to her feet and slipped into the glass shower, closing the door behind her and walking to the wall full of various nozzles, buttons and taps. Thankfully they were all labeled and it only took one shot of water in the face for her to figure out which one turned the large square shower head above her on. The water heated up quite quickly and like her usual self she had it on almost full hot. She slipped into the water, standing fully under and just letting it wash over her in a warm, relaxing stream. She was surprised at how good it felt.
It was a more luxurious shower than she was used to. The only odd part being when she walked to the shelves and stared at the various for-horses products dotting the shelf. She blushed at this even though nobody was around. They really were quick to immerse you here. She didn’t mind. She accepted this fact and washed herself down from tip to toe. It all smelt really nice actually and she couldn’t complain about the silky feeling of her hair when she was finished. She turned the main nozzles off and cut off the stream of water.
Clover stood there, using one of the fluffy white towel to dry herself down and tousle her mid-back length blonde hair into a semblance of dryness. She took her time in the bathroom, brushing all the tangles out of her hair, brushing her teeth and moisturizing her body with the green apple lotion that had been provided. Green apple, really? She stifled a bit of a giggle. At least it smelt good. As she finished she stood up, looking at herself in the mirror for a long moment as her wind wandered.
She’d really come. She’d taken the plunge on dipping her toe into a ponygirl training facility. The realization was really staring her in the face as she clipped the ‘pony’ necklace around her neck and tugged on her pyjamas. She might as well be lazy with her clothes the rest of the day. She offered herself a smile in the mirror and turned, tossing her towel in the provided laundry hamper and opening the door back into her bedroom. She expected to simply step out and stretch but she stopped dead in her tracks the second she stepped into the bedroom.
In the corner of the room was a plush armchair coated in white leather, which to her surprise was currently occupied by a girl with vibrant red hair and a smile only visibly around the thick black bit wedged between her teeth. Purple eyes bored into Clover and hoof-boots equipped with shiny silver horseshoes were crossed neatly, tapping to a rhythm only the girl could hear apparently. She wore an intricate black leather harness trimmed in orange-red and was glistening with a slight sheen of sweat.
The girl let out a soft nicker in Clover's direction.
…There was a ponygirl sitting in her bedroom. Staring at her.
Alright. So she didn’t know how to react. How exactly do you respond to walking out of one of the most luxurious showers you’ve ever had and ending up face-to-face with the very animal you were aiming to become? Well, in Clover's case she just stood and stared for a very long awkward moment as the red-haired pony nickered at her. A cute noise that she couldn’t help but smile at. She bit her lip slightly. She’d been told she could SAY anything. Maybe this was some sort of test? Already she was second-guessing herself and how she should respond at this moment. Yes and No didn’t translate well to asking why someone was in her bedroom.
The pony, however, solved this issue for her. The redheaded pony offered her a curious and polite curtsy before turning and walking out onto her balcony and with her currently unbound hands, climbed down the trellis that climbed up on either side of the balcony.
Clover hurried after her, “W…wait!” She called out. Pausing and covering her mouth. Oops.
She walked out onto the balcony and peeked over the edge, watching the pony climb down to the ground. The redhead turned and offered her a playful wink and then trotted down the smooth stone pathway leading away from the mansion and towards the huge two-story barn in the distance.
Clover furrowed her brow a bit in confusion. Why exactly had one of the ponies climbed into her room? Was that normal…? She huffed slightly and shook her head, deciding to digest that odd fact later. For now, she’d let the image of the fully tacked-up female linger in her mind and make her smile about what the future could potentially hold for her. Or, as the balcony was forcing her to do. Look out over the scene before her.
She walked to the edge of the balcony and for the first time, looked out over the true Tall Tails. The facility she’d come to. Before her was a long stone path leading to a roundabout in front of an older-looking two-story barn. Branching out on either side of it were various what she assumed were grazing fields based on several of them holding tacked-up ponies lazing about in the sunlight. Interspersed between the fields were training areas. From what she could make out at this distance without her glasses, there was one with ponies running around in an odd-looking circle, one where a few were racing around poles? She stared at the scene before her in absolute awe.
Crisp white fence posts grabbed at her attention, rolling fields of grass and the many curious sounds now greeting her ears had her lost a little bit in a world not her own. A distant crack of a whip, the sharp whinny of response. The sound of hooves clip-clopping on the concrete path as the redheaded pony trotted away from the balcony on the dark cement. Clover slumped a little bit, staring at it with an almost envy in her eyes.
“Quite a scene. Isn’t it?” came a voice suddenly from behind her.
Clover turned about to see Miss Aria standing there with a smile on her face and holding a plastic card. Clover almost opened her mouth to respond, but caught herself and stomped her foot once awkwardly. Wincing a little at the painful shock that ran through her bare foot.
Aria chuckled, “Careful. You’ll hurt yourself before you get some hooves on those feet.” She brushed past Clover to stand at the edge of the balcony, looking over the facility, “This used to be my room before we made it into the prospect room. I love this view.” She eyed the redheaded pony trotting down the laneway and grinned a little bit, “Got to see one up close did you?” She cast a stern gaze on Clover.
Clover couldn’t hold that gaze. She diverted it instead to her toes wiggling against the cement. Aria’s head popped into her vision, looking up at her. She chuckled, “I already know the answer. Daydream is always a rather curious pony when it comes to new ponies. If you ever need help, she’s a good one to ask for it.”
Clover nodded, still staring at her feet. Aria stood up and looked over the facility below and smiled, “You’ll be down amongst them all tomorrow, Pony. Things will not be quite as relaxed as they are now, nor quite as comfortable. But, based on our initial interactions. I think you’re going to enjoy yourself. Ponyplay has a certain kind of magic about it that brings many back begging for more.” She put playful emphasis on the ‘begging’ part and winked at Clover.
Clover blushed and turned her eyes over the many curious places below.
“Mistress Aria! We’re doing basic with some of the older ponies today on the whip circle, want to come to watch?” A call came up from below where a brown-haired woman dressed in crisp white breeches, tall leather riding boots, and a white collared blouse. She was standing on the ground just outside the mansion looking up at the pair of them on the balcony.
Aria let out a playfully dramatic sigh, “Come watch the ponies work? How will I survive in the hot summer sun dealing with such torture?”
The woman below laughed, “Yes…how torturous it must be to enjoy such things. You coming?”
“Can I bring a guest?”
The woman below turned her gaze on Clover who was looking between the two of them and grinned, “Absolutely. See you in ten?”
“Make it fifteen Hayley. This one is going to need to pull on something better than pajamas…lazy pony.” Aria cast Clover a bit of a side-eye.
The woman below, Hayley, chuckled and nodded, “See you at the whip circle then! I'll save you a seat.” The woman turned without another word and headed off down the long path towards the barn.
Aria turned about and leaned against the railing. She looked at Clover and raised an eyebrow, “I’m not waiting all day Clover.”
Clover had not expected to leave the house today, but it would seem she would get to go see the other ponies hard at work today at least. She hurried inside, quickly changing into a pair of jeans from her bag and a pair of thin black socks. She realized she had no shoes though. She furrowed her brow a little bit and walked back out to Miss Aria standing in the main room waiting for her, her foot tapped almost impatiently as she stood with one arm across her midsection and the other looking idly at her nails.
Aria looked up as Clover made her way back in, her eyes falling quickly to her feet. A chuckle escaped her lips, “Socks huh? No no. Ponies don’t wear socks. You’ll go barefoot. Leave them here and let's go.”
Clover hesitantly leaned down and tugged her socks off, setting them on the edge of the bed and following Aria out of the room. Down the hall they went, down the main stairs and then back beneath them to a glass set of double doors at the end which led to the area directly below Clover's balcony. Clover spotted the trellis the pony from earlier had climbed and the flowers that had clearly been trampled before and after her climb.
Aria held a hand out to stop Clover in her tracks, staring at the flowers for a long moment, “Oh that red-headed pony is SO getting it.” She said in a huff.
Clover blinked and couldn’t help but stifle a giggle. She wasn’t sure if she wanted to be the one who stomped Miss Aria’s flowers into the ground. Without another word, the pair of them were off down the laneway. Clover was thankful the cement was so smooth, but not so thankful that the sun had warmed it to nearly boiling point. She stepped quickly, hopping from foot to foot. Aria gave her one glance, a small grin but said nothing, only continuing to walk towards their destination.
It wasn’t a very long walk as they passed a few fenced-in fields, a few ponies trotting up to the fence to watch their passing, and an occasional whinny washing over them. Clover giggled a little bit but was lost in the many sights and sounds that assaulted her senses. For a few minutes, she even forgot about the hot cement beneath her feet, but then they were turning, walking along a dirt pathway leading to a large dirt circle to the front left of the barn. Standing in the center was the brunette trainer, Hayley, and standing in the four cardinal locations around here were four different women dressed in gorgeous and unique tack.
The ponies didn’t look over, they were clearly paying attention as Aria and Clover made their way to a solitary chair sitting off to the side.
“Welcome Mistress Aria and pony.”
Clover blushed visibly and nodded, earning her a tiny swat on the back of the head, “You curtsy when a trainer greets you pony. Rule number 10.” Aria stared at her sharply.
Unsure of how to respond initially, Clover turned towards Hayley and dropped into a small, not-so-good curtsy.
Aria and Hayley both nodded in approval, “Get on with the show then Hayley. Show off their training.”
The pair of them walked to the lone lounge chair. Aria took a seat and pointed to the ground next to her, “Kneel where you’re most comfortable and watch. Whip circle is one of the first places most ponies start. Basic, simple, and incredibly elegant if it’s done right.” Aria lazed back and turned her gaze towards the whip circle where Hayley waved her whip about a few times and spoke out loud, “Ready Ponies?” All four of them stopped in unison.
Clover settled down onto her knees, sitting atop her feet and letting her dark green eyes watch the spectacle before her.
The crack of the whip echoed through the air…
From that first crack of the whip, Clover was lost in the spectacle before her. Aria noted the sudden attention that Clover adopted, the smile she was trying to suppress, and perhaps even the slightly tense body language because she knew she’d be here at some point. Aria softened her smile a little, how she wished she could recapture all those firsts. All those initial moments made this side of the alternate lifestyle community so very special. She reached down curiously, running fingers over Clover's hair. At first, the girl didn’t respond, but then her cheeks went pink and she relaxed.
“Definitely a pony..” She whispered before turning her gaze back to the circle.
The first crack of the whip echoed through the air and all four of the ponies in the circle began to move in sync, walking clockwise around the circle. Their horseshoes made clip-clopping noises which could have been used as white noise for sleeping in Clover's opinion. The four of them moved so gracefully. Picking their legs up high, walking with purpose and beauty. They moved in sync, continuing to walk around the circle as Hayley turned constantly to keep her eyes on each of them. Then came the whip again. She cracked it twice in rapid succession and on cue, all four of the ponies stopped on the spot immediately, tucking their hooves neatly together and keeping their gazes forwards.
“Very good ponies. You’re very in sync today, trying to impress Mistress Aria are you?” She asked with a playful chuckle, but before any of them could stomp their answer she had cracked the whip again and they were once again moving.
Hayley let them move along, making a full circuit around her before she raised the whip again and very quickly cracked it three times in sequence. All four ponies planted their leading hoof and turned 180 degrees to the left, continuing into motion as soon as they turned. All four of them moved counter-clockwise now. Clover watched in awe. How did they move so easily in those boots? How did they look so graceful and elegant when moving? She shuffled a little bit as she never took her eyes away, she was already as lost in it as the four in the circle were.
Aria watched the four in the circle with a bit of a smile, but she kept glancing down at Clover, seeing how she reacted. Gauging her response. The girl was certainly into the scene before her, and with how amiable she’d been in her emails and now in person, she was sure of her decision of allowing the girl a try. She remembered when she’d gone to her first pony facility, fresh as a daisy and into a trial period much like this one. In a way, Clover reminded her of a younger version of herself.
Four cracks resounded through the air and like before, each pony planted its lead hoof and turned 180 degrees to the right this time. It was incredible how in sync they were. This went on for a good half an hour until two sharp cracks had the ponies stopping, slicked with sweat and panting heavily. It was a workout, that was for sure.
Hayley turned to Aria and beamed, “Pretty impressive huh? We’ve been working on their synchronous movements the last few weeks and I think they’ve got it down!” Hayley was a rather bubbly and excitable female as she spoke, it was clear she was enthusiastic.
Aria nodded, “You’ve done a wonderful job with these four Hayley. I am thoroughly impressed.” She glanced down at Clover and tapped her chin curiously, “I do wonder, however, how you’d do if I threw a wrench in the mix. Which pony would you say is the strongest in the group?”
Hayley looked between the four and rocked her head back and forth, “They’re all pretty solid. But I think Holly here is the most impressive of the group. She motioned to a raven hair pony, wrapped in beautiful white leather, with bright blue eyes and a smile on around her bit as she panted softly. Holly turned towards Hayley and offered a polite curtsy in thanks. Hayley patted the pony fondly.
“Why do you ask?”
With a bit of a cheeky smile she waved a dismissive hand and turned her eyes to Clover, “Clover, would you like to give the circle a bit of a try?”
Clover looked up, like an animal in the headlights. She turned her eyes to the circle, Hayley and the ponies who were all still focusing on the circle. Then she looked down at herself and furrowed her brows a little bit. She wasn’t exactly equipped to be a part of it.
Aria’s chuckle brought her back from the cascade of butterflies in her stomach, “Worried about what you’re wearing huh? Nonsense. You’re wearing underwear, right? Lose the pants. Get up, and get in the circle. Now. That’s not a request either.” Aria stared intensely at Clover, there was a certain kindness in her eyes, but also a dominant side that was making arguing with her nearly impossible. Clover shivered nervously and stood up, looking around for somewhere to ‘lose the pants’.
Aria looked at Hayley, “She’s a little shy, it would seem.”
Hayley giggled as she led Holly by her bridle to a small closed-in field nearby, sending her off into it with a swat of the rump and closing the gate behind her, “Weren’t we all a little shy when we first started, Mistress Aria?”
With a nod of agreement, Aria looked at Clover, “You have ten seconds to do as I have requested.”
Clover’s heart was beating out of her chest, a slight hint of panic bubbling over mixed with excitement. She reached down, hesitantly undoing the button on her jeans and unzipping them. Her face was bright red and she was more than a little embarrassed as she slid her pants down to her ankles and stepped out of them. She was left in her t-shirt and the thankfully modest pair of black panties she had decided to wear.
Aria let out a sudden chuckle, “And here I had almost expected no underwear. Good pony, edge of the circle. Now. You’ll listen to Hayley in full. She’s in charge. Understood?”
Clover was still trying to find her breath as she offered a nervous stomp on the dirt, it didn’t make much noise but Aria’s eyes followed the movement, nodding her approval
Turning and taking a deep breath, Clover would make her way to the edge of the circle where Hayley was waiting for her. The brunette smiled at her and looked her up and down, sizing her up as the other three ponies in the circle stood almost like statues, waiting patiently.
“Hmn…Good legs on her. Maybe a jumper. Or a runner.” Hayley tugged a riding crop from her hip, running it over Clover's side as she walked around her, poking at her back gently, “Good posture too. Tell me pony, you’ve remained in good shape most of your life?”
Clover stomped once, wincing at the hard ground beneath her feet.
Hayley gave her a sympathetic look, making sure Aria didn’t see it. She tapped Clover's chin gently with the tip of her crop, forcing her to lift it, “Chin up. I know you’re nervous, but be a proud pony. You’ve taken the step that most people are too afraid to take.”
She offered a bright smile at Clover, “Welcome to Tall Tails, Clover. Give her a good welcome girls…”
The other ponies, including Holly in the field, turned and whinnied happily in her direction. It made her blush more, but the kind gesture and welcome helped calm the butterflies in her stomach a little. She shuffled and looked down at her feet, a sharp tap of the crop beneath her chin forced her eyes back up, “Ponies don’t stare at their feet, Clover. Keep your chin up. I won’t tell you again.”
Hayley turned then, walking back to the center of the circle as she clipped the crop back to her belt, “Now, I’m not going to give a huge detailed explanation of the whip circle. I find that learning by doing is much more effective. So I’m going to provide a single command, and we will correct and teach as we go. Does everyone understand?”
Three stomped in sync and Clover's little tiny stomp echoed out afterward.
“Alright then. Let’s get it started.”
Hayley cast Clover one final smile and then without further hesitation, cracked the whip once!
Their forward motion did not last long. Clover walked forwards as she had always done her whole life. Arms swaying, stepping forward with little to no meaning. The two cracks of the whip came almost immediately after they had started, “Clover, what kind of walk is that exactly?” Hayley said sharply, walking over to her and grabbing her by the shoulders, tugging them back and forcing her chest out, “Stand straight and proud.”
The crop came off Hayley's belt and snapped sharply at the bottom of her chin, “Chin up!”
Another crack hit the back of her thigh and she winced, “Ow!” The look Hayley shot at her words could have melted a block of ice, “Say something else, and you’ll be on this circle until sunset.” She warned. The crop snapped sharply against the back of Clover's thigh again as Hayley continued, “Knees high! Pretend you’re trying to slam them into your chest. Otherwise, you just look like a sloppy human walking amongst ponies. Do you want to be a pony or not Clover? Yes or no.”
Clover winced at the second sharp strike and turned her eyes to Aria sitting to the side. It didn’t last long, Hayley grabbed her chin, forcing her to look back at her, “Mistress Aria isn’t going to save you. You’re in the circle with me. You’ll focus on me. Now. One more time, Do you want to be a pony?”
Clover had a hard time keeping the woman's gaze, her mind getting lost in a confusing myriad of emotions. It was a strange feeling as the trainer took control like she was going into some sort of almost bubbly headspace. She knew she ought to obey, and so she did. She raised her foot and stomped it down on the ground as best she could.
Hayley gave Clover's face a sudden shove and nodded, “Good. Then act like one. Lift those legs and don’t you dare lower them.” Hayley walked back to the center of the circle, clipping her crop once more to her belt and drawing out her whip again, “Alright ponies. One more time. Are you ready?”
Clover stomped with a tiny bit more confidence alongside the other ponies.
The whip’s crack resounded through the air.
To the side, Aria watched with interest. She understood the confusion and hesitance on Clover's face. This was all so new to her. But she’d known what she was signing up for. Lest she’d not be here. When Clover had turned her gaze to her, she’d immediately looked away, paying her no attention and offering no support at that moment. It was a learning moment, not a moment to be coddled. Once Hayley had finished the small ‘lesson’ and cracked her whip a second time, Aria let her gaze follow Clover closely.
Clover stumbled forward on her first step as she launched her step high up, overbalancing a bit. It took her a full circle to figure out some sort of smooth rhythm, watching the other ponies and trying to reproduce their movements. The path stung her feet and already the sun was lighting her up like a candle. It only took two full laps for a sheen of sweat to glisten on her and soak through her shirt. She stumbled a little as two cracks of the whip came and stopped, nudging her feet together like the other three.
“You’re a quick learner, Clover. Try to find a smoother motion with your legs, don’t kick up so aggressively.” Hayley commented, not offering anything to the other ponies because they were all senior ponies, they knew this stuff inside and out and could do it without even thinking. Plus, she didn’t have to pay attention to EVERY animal, did she?
Hayley rocked her head back and forth a little bit and looked to Aria, “She’s signed all her papers?”
Aria nodded, “Yes. But her official term doesn’t begin until tomorrow. This is just a bit of a playful introduction.”
“Hm..” Hayley mused for a moment. She walked to a nearby fence holding several leather implements and picked up two small loops of leather each with a single buckle. She walked over to Clover, “You’re overbalancing because you’re swinging your hands. So…”
She stepped behind Clover, tenderly tugging each of her hands behind her back. She was slow, gentle. Constantly waiting to see if Clover resisted. Safe, Sane and Consensual was important here and if there was ever discomfort, things would stop immediately.
Hayley spoke as she guided Clover to clasp her arms in a U-Bind shape, “I’m going to secure your arms here. It should help you balance and help you understand how to move a bit more. Ok pony?” She let the question hang.
Clover, having leaned into things more and feeling amiable, lifted her foot and stomped gently. This trainer was about to bind her. It was both terrifying and exciting. She was feeling more like a pony by the second. From the side, she saw Aria’s wide smile at her expense, though the woman was a little distracted as she spoke with the red-headed pony from before who was looking a little huffy.
Holding her arms in place, Hayley would take one of the two loops of leather and wrap it carefully around each of Clover's wrists, securing her arms together neatly in a U-bind. She would cinch them up, but not enough for the leather to bite into her skin too badly.
“Feel okay, pony?”
Clover tested the limits of the strong leather and stomped her hoof once almost instantly. She blinked at how quickly she was becoming comfortable. From behind her, Hayley giggled, “Someone is beginning to become a real pony.” She patted Clover's flank and nodded in approval, “Alright! Let’s try this one more time! We’re going to add a few new commands this time!” She walked to the center of the whip circle leaving Clover standing and testing her bonds a little. Heck, Clover had almost forgotten she was in nothing but a sweat-soaked t-shirt and panties.
The crack of the whip came again suddenly without any sort of preparation. All four of them moved forward in sync. At first, Clover found it a bit strange to balance but as she took the advice given into account and stood straight she found the high-knee walk of a pony a lot easier to balance with her arms behind her back.
“Very good Clover.” Came the reassuring call from Hayley who watched the new pony closely.
A bit of a sly grin slipped onto Hayley’s lips as she raised the whip and cracked it three times in quick sequence. She waited for the results.
Clover had at least understood that meant from watching the other ponies work before. That did not mean it was easy in execution. She planted her lead foot, but failed to stop her forward motion quick enough, overbalancing and taking a sharp tumble towards the thankfully forgiving dirt path. She hit the ground with a resounding ‘oof’ as it blasted the air from her lungs. She hadn’t been able to catch herself without the use of her arms.
Two sharp cracks of the whip quickly followed as Hayley crouched down and looked at Clover, “You okay, Clover?” She asked softly.
Clover was a bit jumbled from the fall. Shaking her head a little bit to clear her head and forcing her lungs to draw breath again. Overall, other than a bit of all-over pain she seemed relatively ok. She winced a little bit and tapped her hoof on the ground regarding Hayley’s question.
“Then get up. Because nobody is going to help you, pony.”
Clover tugged at her wrists gently. Getting up would be hard. She dragged her knees through the rough dirt, tugging them up under herself until she could sit up slowly, sitting atop her knees as she had been earlier. From there she rocked to one side, planting one foot and then slowly easing herself to her feet a bit shakily. She was now covered in dirt. So much for her shower earlier. She blew a few strands of messy blonde hair out of her face.
“Won’t do that again, will you Clover?” Hayley asked with a chuckle. She cracked the whip once and then immediately three more times. This time Clover was prepared. She planted her lead foot and turned on the spot, forcing herself to stay upright and turn. A slight whistle from Aria at the side had Clover smiling just a little bit. Weirdly happy that Aria was pleased more than Hayley. She furrowed her brow at the thoughts, nearly walking into a pony in front of her and missing the two snaps of the whip to stop.
“Clover! Get your head out of the clouds and pay attention!” Hayley said irritably. She shook her head, “Everyone spread out to four cardinal spots. Clover, stay where you are.” The three other ponies spread out so they made up the four points of a compass. The next whip crack came and they continued.
They spent a good hour on the whip circle. Walk. Stop. Turn right. Turn left. It didn’t take long for it to become automatic in Clover's head and by the time Hayley determined their time was up, Clover was practically collapsing. The other ponies were panting and sweaty. But Clover was drenched, her shoulders drooping heavily and her breath coming in ragged gasps.
A soft pat of her flank came from Aria, standing next to her suddenly and smiling, “It only gets harder from here. Don’t keel over on us yet Clover.” Aria looked to Hayley and said, “Water break before you take them back to the barn.”
During their time working in the circle, the redheaded pony had tugged a cart overloaded with buckets of water. Each bucket had a small label on it with a name attached to it. They were laid out on a bench to which the other ponies hurried to, dunking their faces in and drinking greedily at the icy cold water. There was a lonely bucket at the end with a strip of Duct tape on it and the name ‘Clover’ written across it in bold black letters.
Aria gave Clover a slight push towards the buckets, “Drink up, pony. Or get dehydrated. The choice is yours.”
Clover blushed brightly and let out a tiny sigh, walking over to the bucket with her name on it and staring at her reflection looking back at her. She was a mess. But she was also…alive. More so than she’d been in a long time. She offered a smile at the person looking back at her. At Clover, the pony. The other ponies looked over at her, the one next to her, Holly, nickered at her encouragingly. Clover blew a few strands of hair out of her face and leaned down.
She too dipped her head into the bucket and took a long sip of the icy and refreshing water, as a good pony should.