• Published 8th Aug 2016
  • 1,941 Views, 14 Comments

The Ponies Before the Cart - Erised the ink-moth

Though the Applewood derby got off to a shaky start for the CMC, it all turned out alright in the end, and a valuable lesson was learned. But for their sisters, there are still a few lingering feelings to get out.

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“The Apples win most traditional. We have since the Derby started!”

“Please, darling, leave tradition to the Apples. We're doing big, we're doing bold!”

“It's all about speed! You've gotta get across the finish line to win a prize, so we might as well get there first, right?”

“Tradition is all that counts! And who knows tradition better than Apples? Nopony, that's who! So are you an Apple, or are you an Apple?”

“Soon the prize for most creative will finally be in my hooves!”

“It still counts as a win if I push my cart across, right?”

The Applewood derby was over and the day was winding to an end. Sweetie Belle, Apple Bloom and Scootaloo were still reveling in their victory, showing off their ribbons to the rest of their classmates.

There was never much doubt they’d win those prizes; they were talented young ponies, filled with determination. After all, the three took after their older sisters, and their sisters were proud of them in ways that words couldn’t describe.

Those sisters just wished they hadn’t lost sight of that so easily.

“Hey there girls.” Rainbow said as she walked over to Rarity and Applejack. The enthusiasm in her voice was weaker than normal; it was a mutual feeling among the three mares.

They were happy for their younger sisters, that was undoubtedly true. Yet there was a less than cheerful feeling gnawing away at the back of their paper-thin smiles.

For a moment none of them spoke. None of them could bring themselves to speak, nor even make eye contact.

After a ten solid seconds of murmuring to themselves and kicking their hooves at the dirt, it was Applejack that finally broke the silence.

“What kind of big sisters are we anyhow?” she asked, diving straight towards the heart of the issue. “I was so focused on upholding family tradition, that I didn’t even open my eyes to the family I was doin’ it for in the first place!” she shook her head in shame. “Ah can’t believe I was so darn stubborn. I just assumed Apple Bloom wanted to build an old fashioned apple cart… ‘cause she’s an Apple. Ah’m blinder than a bat at high noon.”

“Oh darling, don’t be so hard on yourself.” Rarity brushed a hoof against her friend’s leg. “Traditions are important to uphold.”

“Except when they drive a wedge ‘tween you and your kin.” Applejack sighed.

“Applejack please. At least you had an excuse. What I did to Sweetie was nothing short of shameless!” Rarity countered. “She came to me hoping I would aid her, yet the second I heard of the derby, the only thing I could focus on was my past failure. I used her as my second shot at glory! My own sister!” Rarity cried. “So don’t think for a second that you’re alone in this.”

Applejack rubbed a tear back. “Thanks Rare. I s’pose we can all try and be better sisters.”

Rainbow snorted, drawing the attention of her friends. “Puh-leeze. It’s not like I was forcing Scoots to do something she didn’t want, I just wanted to win. What’s wrong with that?”

Applejack frowned. “Exactly,” she poked a hoof into Rainbow’s chest, “you just wanted to win.”

Rainbow rolled her eyes. “Well yeah, it’s a race. That’s what you do.”

“Darling,” Rarity cut in, “I think what Applejack means is, you were so focused on the idea of winning, that you never stopped to consider how Scootaloo wanted to win.”

Rainbow’s expression faltered. “Well… okay, I guess so. It’s just…” Rainbow gave a deep sigh. “Speed is kinda my thing. It’s what I’m good at, y’know? I like having Scootaloo look up to me, seeing her want to be like me. Maybe I sorta saw what she was trying to do, with those chicken decorations and all that. And yeah... I might have ignored it anyway.

“I was worried that Scootaloo was starting to lose interest in speed. And I though that meant she would lose interest in me too. I thought if we won the prize for fastest, it would make her think speed was still awesome... that I was still awesome.” Rainbow kicked at the dirt. “Maybe I shouldn’t want her to be like me after all.”

“Now y’all just hold it right there!” Applejack snapped. “Scootaloo looks up to you like yer the best big sister in the world, and fer a darn good reason! Yer an inspiration to that filly, and she knows you’re always there to support her, no matter how misguided ya might get. And a pony like me knows a thing or two about being misguided. So quit your belly-aching, mare up, and do better next time.”

“Indeed.” Rarity chimed in, “None of us can always be at our best, believe me. But what counts is that our intentions are pure, and that we come through in the end. And I for one intend to from now on.”

Rarity held her hoof out to her friends. “So then, to being better ponies.”

Applejack stuck her hoof in the circle too. “To bein’ better sisters.”

Rainbow Dash flashed a confident smirk and threw her hoof in too. “And to supporting our little sisters in whatever awesome thing they do.”

The three of them nodded stiffly, faces full of determination.

Their serious stares lasted all of a few seconds before each broke out in a grin, and the mares moshed into giggling three-way hug.

“You girls are the best.” Rainbow told them as she gave them both a final squeeze.

“Rainbow Dash!” Scootaloo’s voice called to them before the filly nearly crashed into them. “Come on, they’re taking pictures of everypony with their carts! Me and the girls wanted to share a group photo with our big sisters!”

Before she even got an answer, Scootaloo was already galloping back to where they’d set up the carts and the cameras.

Rainbow, Applejack and Rarity looked to each other and shared a smile before trotting off to follow.