The Ponies Before the Cart

by Erised the ink-moth

First published

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.

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 Applejack, Rarity and Rainbow Dash, there are still a few lingering feelings to get out.

A short aftermath story that just barely fills the required word count. Enjoy.


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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.


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Three fillies stood proudly before their prize-winning creations, each wearing big happy grins. Standing just behind them were the three older mares the trio looked up to most in their lives. The moment of triumph and pride was forever captured and displayed on the wall of their clubhouse, right next to a crayon map of Ponyville and a partially covered Wonderbolts poster.

"Well Crusaders," Applebloom said, stepping off the ladder and spitting out the extra nails, "I think we can say the Applewood Derby was a complete success."

"Absolutely!" Scootaloo agreed confidently.

"Mmm hmm." Sweetie nodded.

Their smiles didn't last a full second before melting into deadpan frowns.

"So should I say it, or do one of you wanna?" Applebloom asked. Seeing no response from her friends, she let out a sigh. "I think we've been putting a little too much faith in our older sisters lately."

Scoot and Sweetie murmured something vaguely in agreement, poorly hiding how awkward it felt to admit it.

"It sure feels like we've all been here before, doesn't it?" Scootaloo said, chafing one foreleg against the other. "I mean Dash and the others have really come through for us before... Like when I was going to quit the opening ceremony for the Equestria Games, all because I couldn't fly."

"I know. We were there when Rainbow Dash gave you that amazing pep talk." Sweetie chimed in. "It reminded me of when Rarity actually got covered in mud to compete in the Sisterhooves Social with me. But you're right... it does seem like they have a tendency to..."

"Ignore what we want and focus on doing things their way?" Scootaloo offered, to which Sweetie Belle had to agree. "So then what do we do? We've always relied on our sisters for advice. Their the grown-up ponies for Celestia's sake! We're supposed to listen to them, or something."

Sweetie tapped her chin in thought. "I guess we could just do things without them from now on. But that doesn't sound like fun. I want to do things with Rarity. I just don't want to feel like my ideas don't matter."

"Exactly!" Applebloom exclaimed. "That's what we need to do. We just need to find some way to show our sisters that our ideas matter. We might still be fillies, but we're not dumb, we just think differently than what ponies are used to. Remember back when Zecora first started comin' into town, and everypony was scared outta their socks?"

"Yeah! You were the only one brave enough to go up to her and ask what she wanted, and look how well it turned out!" Scootaloo said.

"Right?" Applebloom said, though her grin quickly slumped back to a frown. "Although ah had the same problem with everypony treatin' me like a little filly back then too. I guess not that much has changed."

"So how do we fix that?" Sweetie asked, and the three huddled under their thinking lamp.

Suddenly, Applebloom popped her hoof up and turned it on. "I got it! During our lessons with Twilight, I saw a recipie for an age potion. It'll be tricky, but I think-"

"No." Both her friends cut her off before she could even get into the details.

"No offence Applebloom, but we haven't had much luck with potions." Sweetie reminded her, giving them all shivers at the thought of the Hearts and Hooves Day incident.

"Plus, I don't think turning ourselves into mares would actually make our sisters take us more seriously." Scootaloo reasoned, "If anything they'll think we were even more childish for trying it."

"Good point." Applebloom conceded, and the three of them slumped together into a puzzled pony pile.

"Maybe we should start being honest with them." Sweetie Belle suggested after a while, drawing confused sounds from her friends. "What I mean is, the whole problem today could have been avoided if we had just told our sisters what we wanted, and not beat around the bush with suggestions, but actually tell them. Those were our carts after all."

"Do ya think they would have listened if we had?" Applebloom asked. "Applejack can be surprisingly stubborn when she thinks shes right... which is all the time."

"Maybe. But we've seen what happens when we don't even try. Remember that time with the school newspaper?"

Her friends nodded, thinking back on how Diamond Tiara blackmailed them with embarrassing photos so they'd continue their gossip column. They were so worried what everyone would think if they saw those silly pictures, that they didn't realize what would happen if they kept exposing other ponies secrets.

Sure everypony forgave them when they publicly admitted their mistake, but it all could have been avoided with a simple 'Diamond Tiara's forcing us to do it! We don't want to make ponies hate us. Please help!' They were surprised Cheerilee let Diamond off so easily.

"And that time with Babs?"

Again Scoot and Applebloom nodded, knowing if they'd just told Applejack that Babs was bullying them, they would have found out why. But they were too intimidated, and didn't want to be 'snitches'. So instead they took matters into their own hooves, and nearly destroyed their friendship with Applebloom's cousin. It was only by luck that they were able to stop her from taking that spill into the mud during the parade. They'd saved Babs, but once again they became the town's laughing stock, and all due to their own reluctance to tell the truth.

"So why not just be honest from now on. If we need help with something, or if we have our concerns, why not just say so?" Sweetie asked.

"But... what if it's something really bad?" Scootaloo asked with a worried frown.

"Or what if we do, and our sisters don't take us seriously again?" Applebloom joined in.

Sweetie fixed them both with a determined stare. "Come on girls. I know Rarity, Applejack and Rainbow Dash haven't always done what we wanted, but they're still our older sisters, and they love us. It doesn't matter how bad or awkward something is; they'll be there for us no matter what. Maybe they'll misinterpret what we say, or even jump to conclusions, but if we don't even ask, there's no way they'll know we need them.

"Can we at least give them that chance from now on?" Sweetie asked, offering a hoof to each of her friends.

"Definitely." Scootaloo said, grabbing Sweetie's right hoof in hers. "And if they misinter- missing-... if they don't understand what we mean, we'll be sure to clear things up."

Applebloom joined the circle. "And even though we'll always have faith in them, we have to remember that they can make mistakes too, because they're just ponies... they're our big sisters."