There was a recent dicussion on the Fetlife pony play forum regarding the standardization of gaits, and other movements. I'll admit that the concept irked me (though I won't admit how much) for two main reasons:
First of all, standardization discourages people from exploring all aspects of the fetish by telling them here is the "right" way to do things. Therefore, you need to aspire to this "correct" form otherwise you're doing it wrong, or at the very least, you're not doing it as well as this other pony who is following the "standard".
Secondly, instead of uniting all pony players behind a common standard (which was undoubtedly the well-meant intention of the post), trying to force an arbitrary "ideal" way of doing things on everyone will (in this pony's opinion) actually cause further divsion in the community as people feel excluded or just get annoyed that a standard they didn't ask for nor want is being gilded in front of them.
The fact that I'm even writing this sort of proves my point.
However, I don't want to turn this into a rant post (any more than it already is) because this serves no purpose except to relieve my own frustration. Instead, what I would prefer to do is take a positive spin on things and pull out some of the gems from that discussion.
One useful point that I re-learned was that it can be useful to set goals for your scenes. Obviously it's great to have spontaneity as well, but sometimes it can be nice to have a rough plan in your head before starting (e.g. I want to run through all the gaits, but I want to focus on better balance at the trot, or I want to misbehave until she finally beats me with the crop, or whatever).
Another great point that I learned is that there are some human pony judged competitions tha aren't entirely subjective and don't require you to conform to any particular standard conformation. These are timed events (such as jumping competitions, racing, etc.) similar to bio-horse equivalents - I hadn't realized that we had these in the pony play world, but I also don't have a lot of experience with human shows.
These events would be excellent for ponies who are interested in some friendly competition, but who like to have an objective measure as the judging criteria (and for ponies who prefer friendly competition that isn't offically judged, a fox hunt may be right up your alley).
A third point that came out of this discussion, and one that I was happy to see, is that there are quite a wide variety of play styles out there. It makes me incredibly happy to see how ponies have their own indivdual styles and aren't shy about saying so (there really is no wrong way to play).
Finally, on a personal note, I learned that I need to take some of my own advice and not waste energy worrying about what others might think of my own play style. If I find a pony show that is a good fit for me, I'll be there in a heartbeat, but until then, I treasure the time I get to play with my trainer as much as the time I get to spend with my herd (The San Francisco Stampede).
Before I wrap things up, I want to repeat what I always love to say: there is no wrong way to play. Let me go ahead and repeat that: There is no wrong way to play. When someone suggests their way of playing is superior (regardless of whether they say so explicitly, or via the use of the ever-popular weasel words), just ignore it (well, perhaps roll your eyes) and continue doing what you enjoy.