I am sorry, this is probably a silly question and not really important to the plot, but it's bugging me and it's all in the little details, right? Anyway, I have a group about to get into a rather brutal sword fight with many opponents. They also have ponies with them. The ponies are not trained for combat and the enemy is only a short time (30 seconds to a minute) away. The ponies are already a bit exhausted from running beforehand and a bit panicky, but still calm enough because they are bred to be even tempered and they are well trained as patient riding and pack animals.
The group is standing in front of an outcrop for protection. What would the best option for them and the ponies be? Tying the ponies up so they can't run or setting them lose so they will run away? How would the ponies likely react? Would they run or would there be a risk of them hurting their owners? What if they were tied up, would they hurt themselves or others when panicking? I know this depends a lot on training but how likely is it for even a well trained pony to remain calm in a prolonged stressful situation?
I guess if they let them run it would also be good of the owners to cut off the reins, leads and the packs the ponies are carrying? Or wouldn't it make enough of a difference for the ponies to justify the time it would take? How far are they likely to run away and would they stay together (I'm guessing yes because herd animal).
I have absolutely no experience with ponies, horses or riding in general, so I'm a bit at loss, what do you think?
I tried searching for various terms of horses/ponies/riding during fights, battles etc. But I mostly get results for horses that are actually trained to be in battle. Also, most, if not all, talk about horses and as I understand it, ponies and horses do have different temperaments. I also searched for horses/ponies tied up while scared etc. but I'm getting more advice on how to tie them up correctly and how to calm down a scared horse, rather than what I'm looking for. Any experienced rider out there who could help me out with this little detail :-). I would dearly appreciate it.