A few months back, I came across a post where the author was lamenting pony play shows/competitions (probably the author was referring to one show specifically but no names were given).
The funny thing is, after looking at the rules and judging criteria of one or two shows, I was a little dismayed and found myself agreeing with some of what the author said in his post. I mean judging a pony based on his whinny? Really?
I can't recall a single time any of my bio-horses has whinnied in the show ring or on a cross country course (or really anywhere except in my ear when I'm standing right next to them, but I'll leave out my theory of how horses secretly want to destroy the hearing capabilities of the human race for unknown nefarious reasons in this article for the purpose of clarity).
The more I read, the more I realized that the rules for some shows also included random little judging criteria that are not a part of the way I play or the discipline I prefer. This is when I realized that the rules were not the problem, but neither was my style of play. In fact, there was no problem except my somewhat narcissistic assumption that the rules of a show should be in line with the discipline I enjoyed.
I fell into the trap of assuming that because it's labeled a pony play show, it must be my type of pony play show. This is obviously ridiculous. It would be the equivalent of saying a horse show must be a horse show in my discipline.
As a bio-horse person, I don't enter a competition that is not in my discipline. In the bio-horse world, I'm an eventer, so I enter 3 day events. I don't know s**t about reining, so I don't enter reining competitions. Conversely, you might be a world class dressage rider, but that doesn't mean you're going to place first in the Rolex 3 Day.
The Kentucky Derby, Rolex 3 Day, and FEI World Reining Final are all horse shows, but that doesn't mean they are all the same, nor that they are appropriate for everyone who wants to show - regardless of his skill level. Moreover, none of the shows are any better or worse than any of the others: they are just different disciplines that each require their own unique skill set.
The same thing is true of human pony shows. Each show has its own rules and judging criteria. Each show caters to a slightly different style of pony play. Not every show will be appropriate for every pony. Indeed, some ponies will not find any show that is appropriate for them simply because there are not that many human pony shows to choose from.
Unfortunately, the pony play community is not nearly as big as the bio-horse community, so we simply cannot have events in every discipline. Thus we are left with a handful of events that are great for some ponies, but a poor fit for others, who may then feel left out.
Once I realized this, I completely understood where the author of the original post was coming from, but I believe his conclusion - just like my own initial reaction - was erroneous. The existing pony play shows are awesome additions to the community and a great opportunity for ponies who practice a given style of play to show off their training.
It truly is unfortunate that we can't have shows in more styles of play. I would love to see more of these competitions popping up and covering a wider array of disciplines. While I hope this will happen eventually (as more people become interested in pony play), I don't think the answer is to bash existing shows because they do not cater to a particular style of play. Instead, consider starting your own show with your own rules. Undoubtedly there are other ponies that enjoy a similar style of play who would love to have a place to express themselves and show off their own discipline specific training.
Speaking of existing human pony shows, here's a listing of some of the major events in the United States that include a pony play show as part of their program. If you find one that has judging criteria that matches your own style of play - and you're up for a bit of friendly competition - consider attending (you can always watch the show your first go round) and showing off your stuff!