Have you inserted a lifeline? Here
is the Knittinghelp video that taught me and I use them obsessively now. I move the lifeline up as I knit and am satisfied with what I've done. This makes it so easy to rip back when I encounter problems like the one you are experiencing now. Then the problem just becomes a neat way to experiment with different ways of knitting!
If you have your lifeline inserted through the loops of this first row of purls it will be easier for you to ignore the gap and try going back and forth.
Unless I'm misinterpreting what you are saying, you want the gap because this is how you are creating the hole for the ponytail.
You will start knitting in the round again just before you begin your crown shaping. Please post a picture if this isn't helping so I can get a better idea of what you are describing.