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Iron Pony 2019: The Tug-of-War

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The shouting, cheering, and laughing of a crowd of ponies catches your attention- there is a big splash and the crowd erupts in laughing and cheering again. As you approach you see that the throng of ponies are huddled around a pit filled with mud, a large thick rope spanning over the top of the pit from one side to the other. Emerging from the pit is a once light sky-blue pelted pegasus, who was now obscured mostly by a coat of muddy brown. She laughed with the others as she shook her coat and mane out before addressing the crowd. "And thats how its done! Just hang on for as long as you can before these three-" she gestured with a hoof across the pit at her three competitors "- pull you in! The pony who puts up the best struggle and lasts the longest wins! Who's next?!"



Event Description:


Tug of War is an endurance contest against three other ponies! The goal is to pull your side of the rope against your competitors to prevent them from pulling you into the pit for as long as possible. Conveniently, the pit has been filled with mud so nopony will be injured when they are pulled in- the mud will be there to break your fall! So dig in those hooves, pull and tug and resist as long as you can before the three ponies on the other side eventually pull you in! Everypony eventually ends up in the mud, but how long can you resist before you take the final plunge? Endurance is important, but an Agile pony might also find be able to delay the inevitable with some quick thinking and clever hoof-work! Show us what you've got!



Event Rules:


1 )There is no flying, no magic, and no use of outside equipment; everypony must compete using their natural ability to pull, tug, and stand their ground!

2) Only one post (round) per competitor (OC)!

3) You may participate in this event with more than one OC. However, only one post will be considered for judging, please indicate which OC/post you want to be judged in the competition at the top right of your post by adding the following: *This post submitted for judging*

4) All global forum rules apply- keep it clean and safe for all ages!

5) You are welcome to RP the 3 NPC's you are tug-of warring against; the judge will not be RPing these NPC's! Your reply should focus on your struggle against the inevitable, muddy end that your pony will meet, but feel free to spice it up by including the NPC's in your post!



Event Judging:


This event will be judged by three simple criteria: Completion, Creativity, and Quality. There is no actual timing factored into the judging, the winner will be decided solely based on the overall quality of their RP based on the above criteria and following guidelines. The listed criteria will be used by the judge to determine the winner, no scores will be given or made public, and the winner will be announced upon the completion of the event! There will be a first, second, and third place. Specific information on each criteria follows:

1) Completion will be based on appropriate post length (not to short or inappropriately long), and responds to all event criteria. Completion checks to see that the competitor has met all of the requirements of the event.

2) Creativity encompasses every writer's unique approach to solving the event, how entertaining, and how original the post is. Is there character development in struggle, however small? Do we learn something about the character through their actions, thoughts, and attitude? Is it humorous, or does it make us sympathize with the character? Is it enjoyable and well thought out?

3) Quality focuses on the physical quality of the post- are there spelling errors, or grammatical errors that throw a wrench in the reading process? Does the post flow well when read? Does the post look good, or is it riddled with colors that don't match and pictures that don't fit in? This criteria focuses on basic readability and penmanship.



Getting Started:


All you need to do to get started is to respond to this thread with your post of your OC accepting the sky-blue pegasi's question of who wants to go next! Good luck everypony, show us what you've got!

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Submitted for Judging

Feng Banner.png


Front and center among the prospective contestants was the winged visitor from the east,  Fēng Yīnhǎitāo.  He'd taken a quick break to rest and work off the after-effects of competing in the cupcake-eating contest, though the short break wasn't quite enough to undo the full effects of 17 rich baked treats.  But, who's to say?  Perhaps the extra weight would come in handy!  The lithe longma was certainly going to need every ounce of inertia that he could muster for this event!


"I'm up after you!"  He called out to the pegasus who just came out from the pit, as he trotted up to where he was to take up the rope.  He tuned out the announcement of his name, not caring whether or not the pronunciation was butchered.  After all, the one event so far he'd placed first in was the one where the announcer had been the most wrong, and that patina of superstition that all sports everywhere accrued was having its effect upon him.  Feng wasn't a pony to rely on luck, but neither was he one to ignore it.  He'd seen from his life, and from the lives of others, how it could raise up or throw down a pony's fortunes...


But now was not the time for pontification.  Now was the time for taking the hemp between one's teeth and firmly grasping it!  The three ponies on the other side of the pit, a couple of strapping stallions joined by a well-muscled mare, were already in place, drawing the rope tight.  With that, the announcer's voice rang out:
"Starting the war in three!  Two!  One! Tug away!"


Almost immediately Feng had to brace his legs against the ground to avoid being pulled off his hooves entirely!  The Watcher had honed his body to the peak of its strength, but there wasn't a whole heck of a lot of weight that he could throw around, and the cupcakes didn't seem to be making much difference.  This wasn't even necessarily an event where agility could make up for a lack of pulling power... but maybe cleverness could.  


There was a bit of a stereotype about how long sun and ponies from the eastern continents fought, utilizing not sudden pulls, but sudden surrenders.  Not an unjustified one, as Feng's martial arts training had included this technique among its arsenal.  And it was one that he suspected the trio on the other side would not expect.  Using one precious foot of ground, he kept a steady pull on his end has he was dragged towards the pit, using the time to read the pattern of their tugs.  Once he felt he had the rhythm down, he leaned into one of their sharp tugs; the unexpected move cost him another foot of ground, but it also caused the lead stallion to fall over into the mare behind him, leaving them all in a pile.


That gave Feng all the time he needed, scrambling backwards while their grip on the rope was loose, recovering ground and extending his time.  But the trio rallied, regaining their grip and tugging again.  This time, Feng tried the same feint, being dragged all the way to the edge before slipping back as an unexpected tumble caused the rope to slip again, letting the longma scramble back once again.


Now, however, there was a look in the lead stallion's eye that told him the trick would not work a third time.  Instead of gripping it in his mouth, the earth pony was up on his hind hooves, gripping it in his forelegs.  Once the rope was taught again, he called back to his compatriots.  "This time, steady pulls, on my count!  One!"  Heave.  "Two!" Heave. "One!" Heave. "Two!" Heave.


The predictability of their pulls was no longer something Feng could exploit; whether he held firm, or gave way, each pull was done by ponies who were prepared, and determined not to be unhooved by clever tricks.  The more philosophical side of the Watcher felt this was an illustration of some ancient parable he'd read, once, about the futility of pitching intelligence against fate, how all one's clever schemes could not thwart the will of the heavens.  Perhaps luck was merely one component of that, he thought, shortly before being pitched into the mud.  At least his brain had thoughts to chew on while he cleaned off this time...


"And that's game!  Next?"

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*This Post submitted for judging*


Thunderhoof stood watching the ponies get covered in mud. He loved seeing them struggle against the rope.

He'd thought about entering, but the idea of competing just didn't seem as fun when he couldn't just think about Stage joining in. That poor stallion had heard mud was involved and ran for the hills. He must still be traumatized from the last competition he entered. He'd taken so many baths, Hoof thought he'd wash his coat right off his body. He laughed silently to himself at the thought. In any case, Thunderhoof just liked watching, more than anything. He was content just seeing the others have fun.

"Hoof! There you are!" a familiar voice called "We brought snacks!" Flaire was approaching, accompanied by Lilly Quille, the Itailian artist of their group. The beautiful unicorn was carrying a bunch of candy apples in her magic. and Flaire was coming up empty hooved. Hoof laughed soundlessly. she always has been better at those ring toss games.


"I  may have gone a little overboard playing the Apple Ring Toss game." she blushed slightly

"I gotta admit, it kinda hurt my ego a little to loose so many times then see her win so easily." Flaire said "But she agreed to share, so.... all's well that ends well, eh?"

Hoof drew in the ground with his hoof a little, using his only means of communication.

"Well of course you get some, silly."

Just then, another pony face planted in the mud.

"That looks like fun. Hoof, why don't you give it a go. See how long the three will last before you pull them into the mud."

Both Flaire and Lilly laughed, while hoof smiled. Flaire was only half kidding. He honestly felt Hoof was strong enough to yank them off their hooves, but he'd be too nice to do that. He'd probably just stand there holding the rope until they gave up.

Thunderhoof drew on the ground again giving an evil smirk. Then pointed at Flaire.

Lilly laughed out loud "This, I gotta see!" she said. "Do it, Flaire!"

Hoof stomped in agreement.

"Alright, alright!" Flaire gave in "Fine, I'll do it. But only if I get to do it my way."

Hoof drew in the ground again

"He's right, Flaire. You can't change colors. I'm sure they'll count that as magic."

"But it doesn't give me an edge. It's just a bit of fun." he sighed dejectedly "Oh, you're probably right. Fine. No Colorshifting." he pouted

Hoof slapped his back in a "you've got this!" gesture, which kinda hurt with his big hoof.

"You'll do fine. Besides, it's just for fun, anyway, right?"

"Yeah, yeah. You know, you guys are gonna have to make this up to me. I expect to have my spa day paid for, tonight."

Hoof waved, dismissingly


Once the next pony had finished his go, which seemed to take an impressively long time, Flaire made his way up to challenge the three others. He smiled weakly at them and waved.

"Could you, maybe, go easy on me? I'm not vey strong." Flaire begged

The one in front answered "Sorry, sir. For it to be fair, we have to give you the same challenge we give Everypony else." He and the others picked up the rope "Just pick up the rope whenever you're ready" He offered


Flaire hesitated for a minute, thinking about backing out. But he decided why not, and picked up the rope in his teeth.


The announcer's voice echoed as he called out "Alright! Let's get ready to start in three, two one, tug!"

Flaire strained against the rope as the stallions pulled, giving him a challenge while not outright pulling him in immediately. It was then he realised what the challenge actually was. This wasn't about strength. It was about endurance. He didn't have to out pull three stallions, he just had to hold on as long as he could. He almost dropped the rope with his palpable sigh of relief. He stumbled a little, but regained his balance and pulled again, pulling with force as well as he could maintain. He knew the key to endurance was steadiness, so he tried to keep his pulling as steady as he could, trying not to jerk at all.As he pulled, he thought about changing colors to startle the others and get a good laugh. He'd probably be disqualified, but he didn't really expect to win, anyway. No, he thought, that would be bad sportsponyship. I'll just have to tough it out.

He could feel his grip weakening, and snapped himself back to the task at hoof, yanking ever so slightly on the rope. Which gave him an idea.

He started to relax his grip little by little letting them think they were besting him. They continued pulling the same, and he started slipping, but this was part of his plan. He got real close to the edge, and just before falling in, he pulled together all the strength he could muster and yanked on the rope like his life depended on it, trying to catch the others off guard.


Unfortunately for Flaire, they were a little more practiced at this than he. They easily compensated for the sudden change and yanked back, sending Flaire sprawling into the mud.




He quickly stood back up and began laughing his head off.

"Well, that backfired, didn't it?" He laughed "You guys are pretty good at that." He gave them his signature genuine friendly smile "Thank you for the challenge, sirs." He bowed to them, and made his way back to his friends.

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*post submitted for judging*


Welp, why not join one of the competitions before heading back to Sweet Apple Acres?


Big Mac had been watching the event from his place at the candy apple toss and decided he might be right good at it! The stallion trotted up to the registration table and was pleased to discover he wasn't too late to join in! Now it was almost his turn and he needed to get himself stretched.


He watched the battles that went before him as he warmed himself up. That winged guy, Feng was it? He put on the quite the show. Staying out of the mud for longer than Mac would have thought possible, using a very cleaver technique. Then there was a grey stallion. This guy had tried a technique as well though it didn't seem quite as effective. Big Mac shrugged, they'd both given it their best shot in a contest that was certainly a test of strength and determination.


"Big Mac?" He heard the announcer call. "You out there Big Mac?"


"Yep!" He'd been watching so intently he didn't realize they had an opening for him to go next.


"You good to go next?"


Mac nodded to the sky blue pegasus. "Yep!"


He trotted out towards his end of the rope, mentally going over what he had to do. He'd seen some techniques already but he had his own way of taking care of business. The red stallion reached down and gripped the rope with his teeth. He tossed part of the end over his withers and then gripped it firmly in his muzzle. 


"Three, Two, one, pull!" The announcer called as cheers rang out from the crowd that had gathered to watch the spectacle.  


The ponies of the other side of the mud pit wasted no time with the order and Mac felt the rope go taunt with a quick jerk!


Tug, tug, tug...


They hefted away in rapid succession and Mac felt the strain instantly in his neck and jaws.  That wasn't good, those were not his strongest muscles. The stallion leaned back, intent on taking the strain where he was strongest. He had Apple family buckin' legs and that was where he'd get the strength he needed to hopefully outlast the other competitors. He dug his hind legs into the dirt, grinding them into place for purchase. From here he was able to rock with the pulls from the other side, at least for a little while. There were three well muscled ponies over there though and he knew he couldn't hold out too much longer.


Mac sat back on his haunches as best he could with so much strain going forward. They were going to pull him forward but he was a lot to pull. Little by little he was dragged closer and closer to the mud bit. The stallion grunted with resistance, holding out as long as he could. He fixed his gaze on the ponies across from him, eyeing them with defiance. The lead pony raised a brow for a just a moment at the challenge. That bought him a couple extra seconds but then they retaliated with a tremendous tug!




Into the muddy muck went the farm horse. He landed face first and rolled over with a chuckle of good nature, breathing hard. 


"You had enough buddy?" One of the tugging ponies called over to him with a smile. "You put up quite a fight!"


Big Mac nodded as he waded out of the mud. "Yep!"

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Boulder Dash had already stepped forward for his turn in the tug of war.  Reaching down with his hoof, he offered a helping lift to Big Macintosh out of the muck.  "Come on ole friend, let's git ya outta thar for Granny Smith throws a fit huh?" he asked yanking Big Macintosh out of the mud pit.  Patting his shoulder and even hugging the Earth Pony he had seen as a younger brother, he watched Big Macintosh walk off before turning to three ponies that had yanked him onto the muck with a fiendish grin.  


"Boys.....got nothin against ya'll.  But when ya mud pie a pony what likes my lil brother...we is gonna have a big problem" he said as he took the rope in his mouth and and dug his hooves into the dirt.  The three ponies on the end of the rope gulped nervously and took their ends as Boulder Dash held his tightly.  The Ref pony sensing some tension nodded to Boulder Dash and said, "Next Contestant,  Boulder Dash!  Ready?  One, Two, Three Tug of War!"


Boulder Dash took the hint and dug his hooves in tight as the three on the other end pulled.  For them it was like trying to pull concrete as they grunted, heaved, and hoed trying to pull Boulder Dash's large form into the muck.  Boulder Dash held strong and yanked the other end of the rope, straining his powerful neck muscles and his strong jawline, but still found it difficult to pull three ponies at once.


As he held strong it looked like a stalemate was occurring until Boulder Dash felt his neck start to strain and the dirt give way under his hooves.  He dug deeper trying to breath in to get his stance straight but this caused the ground under his hooves to start to crumble the three ponies on the other end began to pull harder.


Ultimately he gave way and went flying into the air with a loud SPLORT.  Pulling his head out of the mud for the 2nd time that day, Boulder Dash held his head high as one of the other ponies called out, "Do you eat concrete or something?"


Boulder Dash laughed out loud and walked off to get clean up.

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Submitted for Judging
After a rather poor performance gobbling up cupcakes, and an even worse trip around an obstacle course, Smolder had faith. She had done this before, except with a group of her fellow dragons and those who lost, ended up in a big pile of 'Red Flavored Fluffy Puff Translucent Dessert Related Substance'. She teamed up with her brother Garble and his friend Fume. The three battled against an older dragon named Drogon. While the threesome soon found themselves with a faceful of whatever dessert related substance was, it was a true learning experience. She also learned not to stand so close to Fume. Guy has terrible breath!
She marched over to her spot and took notice of the three rather tough fellows she would soon be facing up against. Considering she had heard Big Mac once pulled a freaking HOUSE, they really had to be strong. But she was stronger! She was a dragon! Fierce! Brave! She had wrestled and defeated larger dragons than she. She could smash boulders into dust with a slash of her tail or thrust of her fist. She was fierce! She was a dragon! They would soon hear her roar!
The orange scaled dragon stood firm as she griped the rope. Lessons she had learned from her defeat, combined with an assortment of suggestions and ideas about how to win floated around in her skull. She could win this!
The announcer's voice called out, "3-2-1......BEGIN!"
With the rope in her mighty hands, the young dragon dug her feet into the ground and shifted back just a little. She did not weigh nearly as much as the impressive farm pony, but she would make things a little more difficult for the threesome. She let out a growl as held on tight to the rope. With her feet planted into the ground, she slowly backed up. She could tire these guys out! She thought of herself like a solid wall. One that could not be tugged over. One that would not break!
But the three she battled knew what they were doing. They were a perfect team and made up the right tug-of-war combination. They had strength, experience and they could 'read the rope' better than any creature. Smolder could struggle and pump as much confident messages into her brain, but it was inevitable. She was going to fall. And that she did.
This would be the second time she would get her scales muddy this afternoon, and thus it would be the second time she had to take a quick shower! At least she kept her mouth closed this time.
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"Hmmmm...." a baritone mutter could be heard as a certain latecomer approached the competition area. "...I suppose this can be as good way as any to judge fruitfulness of my training...." Swift Squall  - for it was him - mumbled to himself.

Disappearing for three whole months,  leaving only the most bare-bones of instructions the noblepony embarked to places unknown, once again propelled by desire to surpass his chosen rival, Sigrun Askr.  What kind of hellish exercises he gone through was a mystery, but a tattered clothing, band aid on his cheek and disheveled looks could give those who knew him well some ideas.


"......I guess it would be unfair to attempt this while geared...." Squall mused while he to approached the rope. And so a pair of sheathed longswords hit the ground. Followed by six spellsabers, four daggers, dozen of chakrams, three dozen of throwing knives, two small thwoing axes, kusari-gama, collapsible spear....

The eyes of both rope pulling team on other side of mud pit and the referee has steadily gone wider and wider as the pile of weaponry grew to one that could supply the armed assault on Canterlot Castle.

After a while , sword-stallion managed to empty the armory in his pockets and proceeded to flung away his longcoat....which in itself landed with ground sinking 'THUD'.


"Alright then...I am up." the stallion said as he put the rope between his legs in specific way. It was a trick that Squall learned back in his pirate-hunting days, when he often wrestled with buntline on his lonesome - a grip with optimal amount of pulling power while making minimal strain. But this was not the main reason why he risked abrasions by allowing the rope to hug him so tightly.....

"Hwooooooo........" Swift audibly expelled air from his lungs as a ref pony managed to get himself together "Errr..R-Right. Next Contestant Swift Squall!"

"Haaaaaa......" the orange stallion took a breath depth, apparently unfocused on everything but his own breathing.


"Hoooooooooo........" exhale.


"Haaaaaaaa......" inhale.

Those with an eagle like sight could see that the end of the rope that Swift was holding started to vibrate, with the wave moving toward the trio on the other side.

"....1...!?" Now even referee could see what was happening and he gave the assisting unicorn mare a quick look. A confused shrug was all he got as an answer. Whatever the noblepony was doing, it wasn't magic.


At this point a sharp yank from the three ponies should ensue. Instead what happened was disorganized pull, that failed to do the job. Somehow, by imparting the rope with a rhythm through his breathing technique, Swift was able to disturb the rhythm of his opponents. Apparently however it took all of noblponyy attention. Through he dug his heels, and locked his joints, he didn't appeared to make any pulls himself. Even his eyes were closed!


What followed was truly bizarre spectacle, where three ponies pulled in disorganized matter against a stallion that provided "no resistance".

For Swift, the real struggle was emptying his head from unnecessary thoughts as he focused on his breathing.

Inhale, exhale, inhale, exhale, inhale, exhale.....

I wonder.....

Inhale, exhale, inhale, exhale.....

She must be mad at me......

Inhale, exhale ,inhale,exhale.....

I should at least write.....

The weird vibrations that the rope was going seemed to lessen. The Rope pullers clearly felt it too, as their tugs become more organized, more well-oiled....

The Squall realized that too, but the opposing team pulls interfered with his inhales, and his attempts to calm himself backfired as unicorn's thoughts Wandered towards the wedding....

Just like that Swifts breathing rhythm was broken.




Business-stallion was at last dragged into the mud with a final sharp yank. The noblepolny was submerged whole, lingering in the mud for few seconds before emerging. It was clear he wasn't all pleased with his performance.

"I messed up." Squall thought as he cleaned himself with the quick spell. It seemed  that he still had a while to go before he perfects the skills he learned during this three months....

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Ponies whooped and hollered as competitor after competitor met their muddy end though all, put on a heck of a show!

Current rankings (Updated until end of event):

1- Swift Squall
2- Feng
3- Boulder Dash (Good going fella, but you needed to reset and keep going until you were pulled in!)
4- Big Mac
5- Flaire
6- Smolder

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