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IP2012 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) This event is running for three days- one week! Don't miss your opportunity to give it your all!

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

6) 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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  • 1 month later...

This post submitted for judging*


There were certain things that were very much true and couldn't truly be argued against, for instance the sky was blue, the grass was green (Or brown depending on the time of year) and Tiny was...tiny and not very muscular; This fact did not stop the olive green unicorn from stepping forward to accept the other pony's challenge raising his front hoof to catch the blue pony's attention. "I'll go first!" He offered in a tone that was brimmed with enthusiasm to do this event.

Tiny was very small in stature, hence his name, he was a frail unicorn with a thin body and very clean and neat hooves, but there was something about tugging on a rope as hard as he could until the combined strength of the others pulled you in and you got covered in the dark brown mud that made his heart pound with excitement! Since he was a rather short stallion he stood up on his back hooves so he could see above the crowd.

"Please? I'd love to give it a go!" His mother always said "Never be afraid to try anything once!" And this event certainly counted as something did it not!? Besides you only live once and why not do things that are exciting?

His father was going to kill him when he came home later caked in mud and got it all over the carpet....

Oh well doesn't matter had fun right?

He walked over though the three looked a little skeptical "Kid you sure you are up for this?" One of them asked tilting their head, they were afraid they'd break the frail little unicorn! But Tiny just nodded feverishly and went over to grab onto the rope with his mouth-.... and suddenly the thought of how many ponies had had that in their mouths crossed his face and he turned a little..green-er than he normally was!

Shaking his head quickly he forced himself to not think on it and dug his hooves in;The group looked at each other and were a tiny bit nervous as they started to pull since Tiny seemed like he'd snap at the knees if they pulled too hard so they started a little easy on him.

Tiny's hooves ground into the dirt and he held fast, and the group realized that the unicorn wasn't as fragile as they had first thought, giving each other a well meant smirk they started to put REAL effort into it! Dragging Tiny closer and closer to the edge but the small pony just held on tight and pulled back, managing to get a few steps back! He was doing it! He was holding his own!

And then they gave it a good hard firm YANK and he went =SPLORT= Right into the mud face first, He blinked sitting up and started to laugh "HAH! THAT was FUN!"

One of the Three snickered and offered the unicorn a hoof up "You did GOOD Kid, sorry for taking it so slack on you before we just didn't wanna hurt you but you got guts" The Pony winked at Tiny who flushed a light pink "Heh thanks.."

Once out of the mud he shook himself off and rubbed his shoulder which was sort of sore but the Unicorn was beaming with pride as he headed to the wash off station! They had thought that he wouldn't be able to last long but he'd lasted a good minute or two! He was so proud of himself for taking that first step.

Heh maybe his parents were wrong..Maybe Tiny wasn't so tiny after all...Right now he felt about Six feet tall.

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*This post submitted for judging*


Twilight Shine raised her hoof nervously in response the the pegasus' question. "U-Um.... I-I'd like to go next, please...." She said quietly and nervously. The pegasus looked at her in disbelief. "Um... Are you sure, kid?" she said. "Y-Yes please..." Twilight responded with hesitation as she walked down to her spot.

Twilight's nervousness was building more and more every second. She was just a foal after all, trying to compete in a tug of war against three older ponies. She tried to look confident for the sake of her parents, who were watching from the sidelines, but couldn't bring herself to look at all as confident as she thought she looked on the outside. She waved and smiled nervously to her parents as she took her spot in the Tug-of-War.

She looked at the three other ponies as they laughed at her. "This foal is supposed to be our competition? This'll be easy." One of them said as they all picked up the rope. Twilight got somewhat mad, and she planted her hooves firmly in the ground and bit down on the rope to pick it up. She lifted the rope up, and waited for the signal from the pegasus.

As soon as the signal was shot off, Twilight began to pull with every single ounce of power her foal body carried, and her strain showed quite visibly. She felt her hooves being dragged across the dirt before long, so she turned around quickly and ran as fast as the rope would let her in the other direction, and she started running in place. This feat lasted for about 3 seconds before Twilight's hooves slipped and she was dragged face first through the dust into the mud. She slowly came back up and trudged out, her head hanging low, mud seeping through the cuts she got from being dragged, and mud dripping off her mane and tail. Her parents went to try to console her, but she went straight past them, back to her house to wash the dirt and grime off.

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*This post submitted for judging*

Gilda hated Ponyville. She hated it with a passion. She couldn't for the life of her think of a place she would rather not be. The reason was a simple one; this boring little pony town was home to certain very disappointing rainbow-tressed mare and her ever annoying cast of staggeringly lame pony friends. As Gilda wanted absolutely nothing to do with any of them, she wanted absolutely nothing to do with this town. Only something really big could get her to fly her feathers out here. Right now, that something was Iron Pony.

Gilda hated Ponyville, but one thing she loved was showing off. It was the reason she had found herself into the Running of the Leaves competition the previous year and it was the reason she was here now to compete in Iron Pony. What more could she ask for then a chance to prove to all these dweeb ponies that she was, in every way imaginable, just flat better than them? The opportunity was too good to pass up, even if she had finished seventh in the Running of the Leaves, and even if this blasted thing was taking place in Ponyville. It was her chance to bring these infuriating little ponies back down to size.

The event first on her list was the tug-of war. In her eyes, this one was stupid easy. In terms of strength, it was no contest; a griffon could take a pony any day of the week. Adding a couple more ponies didn't make it any different either. In a contest of strength, the griffon was always going to shine. There was no question about it. As she stepped toward the mud pit, watching the previous pony participant get pulled face first into it in an oh so satisfying way, she couldn't help but give a harsh, deriding laugh.

"Step aside, dweebs. Let this griffon show you how this is really done," she said with a cocksure smirk. She approached the pit and met eyes with the three ponies on the other side. "Hope the three of you didn't expect to stay out of that mud today, because when I'm done here, you're gonna be buried in the stuff."

"Heh, ain't you sure of yourself?" a sturdy looking earth pony stallion on the other side started. "Even if you are a griffon, you can't seriously be expecting to pull us in. This is an endurance game. The whole point is to last the longest, not actually win the tug of war."

"So when I do win it, I guess that will make me extra special, huh?" Gilda said with a chuckle. "That's sure gonna look bad for you guys when its announced that this year's Iron Pony is actually an Iron Griffon."

"You sure talk big, but I hope you realize that's all it is: talk! You aren't going to intimidate us," another of the ponies, a fiery pegasus mare challenged.

"And you don't look so tough in the first place," the third pony, a buff unicorn stallion added with a small huff of superiority.

"Well, I guess we'll see if you're all singin' the same tune when you're all covered in mud and my feathers are still clean," Gilda snapped back readily as she finally gripped the rope tightly with one of her talons.

"All right, you're on, Miss Griffon!" the pegasus started as she grabbed a hold of the rope with her mouth. The earth pony and the unicorn both nodded and followed suit.

Soon, the tug of war had begun. The force created by the three ponies almost caught Gilda off guard. They were ponies, but they definitely had some strength. A lesser griffon, or in fact most ponies, probably would have been tugged in almost immediately by the initial sharp tug on the rope. Gilda was far from a common griffon though; she was a fierce competitor who didn't like to lose at anything. She was determined to do this and she was determined to do it right.

Besides, she did have a sort of natural advantage being a griffon. Ponies couldn't pull rope with their hooves; they had to use their mouths to hold the rope. A griffon, on the other hand, had two gripping talons with which to handle a rope. This leant itself to both a smoother, sturdier grip and enabled her to use the well-worked muscles in her forelegs for the task. With both talons tight on the rope, she pulled back against the strong force on the other side. She managed to stop herself from moving toward the mud, but they weren't budging.

Gilda pulled harder. After all she had said, she couldn't let this end with her face first in the mud. She summoned all the strength the had and pulled back harder and harder. She smiled as she saw the rope start to move slightly in her direction, before the three on the other end redoubled their efforts and had it moving back the other way. Gilda growled in frustration. Her wings flew open to increase her resistance. She couldn't use them to fly here without breaking the rules and being disqualified, but, as she saw it, any little thing was going to help in this game.

The fierce griffon pulled and pulled, ever determined not to greet the mud. Seconds ticked past as she successfully held her own, but even with the effort she was exerting, the simple fact remained that the actual progress she was making was tantamount to zero. It was not a quick revelation for Gilda, or an all together pleasant one, but all the same it did arrive. The stupid ponies were right. This was too much for one griffon. Moving the three on the other side of the rope was not feasible; all she could hope to do was endure longer than any of her competitors.

Unfortunately, it was about as she was realizing this that the griffon's strength began to slip. Her forelegs were growing painfully strained and she was struggling to keep her back legs planted firmly on the ground. Flapping her wings slowly for a little added push did very little to help her. She was through. Another fierce tug from the three ponies she faced came, and Gilda simply had not the strength to resist it. Her form was pulled roughly forward, face first into the mud below.

"So much for keeping the mud out of your feathers. Ha!" the unicorn started. "Maybe this will teach you about having such an attitude?"

Gilda felt a deep shame as she picked her mud covered self upward. She was about to mouth off to the smart-mouthed dweeb, when she opted to play it cool instead. Wiping the mud off of her face and beak, she gave a laugh. "Oh, I don't know. Like your friend said, it's about the fight we put up, not pulling you guys in. I still might have won this."

Gilda wasn't sure about this claim, but there was a chance. She would just have to wait and see exactly how she matched up against the rest. Considering she was in such a lame pony town as Ponyville however, she rather did like her chances.

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..............................................................................................................................................................................................*This post submitted for judging*

The Skybright twins were really excited about their first Iron Pony competition, not the least was that they could even compete against each other in some events, so they were both quick to wave their hooves in the air when the challenge went out to the crowd.

Star, or "Hoss" to everypony, puffed his chest out and strutted ahead of his sister in line.

Being a stallion, he was naturally a bit bigger than his sister and was sure he would do well at the tug of war compared to his sister, Shanna.

He especially hoped to impress his special somepony, Jubilee Flyer who he was sure would be watching. Which events would she join in on?

The Bay colored Pegasus trotted up to the line after the notorious Gilda Griffon had been pulled in and dragged herself out of the muck with surprising calm.

One of the three across the pit called out to him "At least the mud will be less noticeable on you with that hide color."

Hoss snorted "We'll see, you three have to wear out sometime..."

With that, he picked up the rope in his teeth and dug in his hooves.

The first yank nearly pulled him in.

While pound for pound, long distance flyers like himself were as strong or stronger that the average plow pony, they were far, far lighter.

Hoss frantically scrambled and pushed back with all four legs, striving with all his will to keep his wings clapped tight to his back.

The edge came closer and closer, maybe if he.... Suddenly he took a step forward to put them off balance, then jumped backward to tug them forward a step.

While he took the three pullers by surprise, they were not going to be defeated that easily. They waited and watched as they steadily pulled him forward again.

Hoss frantically tried the same trick again and they yanked hard right when he jumped again.

The stallion yelped when he was jerked out of mid air and over the edge, falling right into the mud.

Above him, the unicorn in the trio barked a laugh and pointed with his hoof "Good try, tricky pony. There is washtubs that way. Set up for this event."

Hoss pulled himself out of the mud, his wings dragging behind him as he wiped the gunk out of his eyes with a hoof "Um, thanks!"

As Hoss dragged himself to a tub, he hoped his sister would do well too...

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Shanna watched as well when Gilda was dunked. She clopped the ground in applause as the griffon actually reacted with style to the fall into the mud. She figured a little positive reinforcement would help her sportsmanship "Great work, Gilda!"

Her brother was soon locked in battle with the rope and soon dragged in. At least he lasted longer than she thought he would.

She trotted up and took her place at the starting line. The burly puller laughed "Whats this? Are we seeing double? Oh wait, the other one is covered in mud so they dont' match anymore. Lets make them a matching set again!"

Shanna snorted "I might surprise you! Lets go!"

With that, the Bay Pegasus mare grabbed the rope and started pulling.

The tug back was sudden and nearly threw her off her hooves.

Frantically she scrambled and pushed with her hooves, but she was not quite as strong as Hoss and soon went over the edge with a splat.

The unicorn of the trio chuckled "Well that was a good effort, Miss. Wash tubs are over there..."

Shanna quickly found her brother with the other contestants and joined him in a tub beside his. "I didnt' do so well..."

Hoss chuckled and reached over to scruffle her matted mane "You did well enough, sis."

She smiled "Then that will do. Thanks Hoss."

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*This post submitted for judging*

Harrington Sleuth was very much interested in this event of the Iron Pony competition. Since he left Baltimare and traveled Equestria, he had hauled a caravan with him wherever he went, which contained all of his belongings. Even if his cutie mark, a magnifying glass with a hoof-print in focus, didn't exactly signify he was a natural athlete, he deduced he was strong enough to stand a chance in the Tug-of-War. He was already close enough to jump right in, so why not take the chance and take a shot at Equestrian history?

"I'll go next, Miss Dash!" Harrington bellowed as he flew up a short way before descending into the contestant half of the pit. The trio on the other side of the mud looked at him, checked out his cutie mark and snickered among themselves. They turned around to "greet" the new challenger.

"Looks like some detective type," the earth pony said. "Don't worry. In a few seconds, you'll get a better perspective to examine the mud for evidence."

"I'm not here to play mind games. Just for sporting--"

"Here's the mystery of the day," the pegasus started, "what's a detective doing in an athletic competition? Investigating how bad he can get his flank kicked?"

"Now, see here!"

"I see here," the unicorn said. "I see fresh new meat to pave into the mud quicker than any spell I could cast."

Harrington snorted and huffed as he was given his end of the rope to tug with. Even if he would go down, he would go down bucking. He clutched the end between his teeth and faced the team of ponies to start off. Once they got the signal, all four ponies started yanking at the rope, trying to pull away from the mud pit between them. Harrington dug his hooves into the ground and started trying to trod backwards with the rope, which seemed to almost put the rope at a standstill. Almost. The trio on the other end inched the P.I. Pegasus closer to the end of his run.

With how each pony in the ring measured the opposition, all four started kicking it into high gear. Harrington used all the strength he had to slow his movement toward the pit, coming ever so closer to the mud. The three at the other end started trying sudden bursts of speed and power to throw the contestant off his balance, and it worked as Harrington's front right leg slipped. Working with three hooves, he accelerated toward the pit and tried jumping up a little just to get the fourth hoof back under him. Once he did, he turned around, rope in mouth, and bucked forward as hard as he could, alternating between springing off his front hooves and his back hooves.

As erratic as his bucks were to keep the diverse trio guessing, eventually, they simply anticipated when his most vulnerable moment would be. As soon as he rose up on two hooves to toss his weight away from the mud, the team opposite him thrust themselves the other way, flopping Harrington onto his back. Now in a completely prone position, the other three took off with their side of the rope and dragged him the remaining distance, yanking up at the last moment to put a little air under him before he back-flopped in the middle of the pit.

Now coated in mud, Harrington rolled so he was oriented the proper way and stood up, swaying through and plopping right back in the mud once before he returned to solid dirt. He plodded away from the pit to get washed off and make way for the next challenger.

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Hallowed Night stuck her tongue out and flailed around in excitement as she entered the huge, airy stadium. The crowd’s cheers shook her through to her core as a surge of adrenaline coursed like liquid metal through her veins; if simply standing in the stadium was this exhilarating, Hallow decided she just had to compete in whatever was being attempted in the middle of the large dirt circle.

Triumphant songs rang through Hallow’s head as she galloped at full speed onto the field, just as a particularly viscous wad of mud came flying in her direction. She dodged nimbly and slid to a stop just in time to watch a mud-splattered pony slink out of the pit that had broken the competitor’s fall. It suddenly dawned on her, as she saw the mud-caked rope being pulled out of the pit that this must the tug-of-war competition.

“Oh oh oh, me! Meee, Hallow! I’m next!” A huge grin spread over her features as she began to jump up and down on the edge of the crater. She was standing across from her contenders, three Earth pony stallions, who all raised their eyebrows at her neon-splotched coat and strange outfit.

“Umm… Are you sure, little lady? You might get your…uhh…thing dirty.” One of the stallions motioned to Hallow’s cape and snickered. Hallow just kept her smile on her face, as if her sharp, shinning teeth alone could win the competition for her.

“Of course I’m sure! I wouldn’t have volunteered otherwise, duh, silly.” A giggle escaped her lips and she raised a hoof to her mouth, using the sharp tip to pop her fake teeth out. She stowed them in a pocket on the underside of her cape and patted the outside of the fabric. “Can’t hold a rope with those things, huh boys?” She looked up at the blue pegasus, determination written all over her face. “Lay it on me, sister!” The crowd cheered as she clamped down on the rope and adopted a wide stance, the better keep herself balanced and dig into the dirt ground.

The three stallions stared, dumbstruck, at the mare as they took the rope into their mouths. It wasn’t everyday you saw a splattered neon orange and white pony with a Nightmare Night-esque cape and fake teeth…especially not at an Iron Pony competition. The pegasus acting as referee raised her hoof into the air; Hallow readied herself to pull with all her might at the blue pony shouted.


A grim look of resolve flickered onto Hallow’s face as she yanked back with all her might, determined to last as long as she possibly could against the three stallions. Suddenly, a sharp pain slapped her across the face and caused her to topple around. Her hoof hit a slippery patch of ground and…splat! The bitter taste of mud filled her mouth as the mud-pit rushed up to meet eyes. Sitting up as quickly as she could, she rubbed mud away from her light grey eyes and cast them up to the referee, who was laughing uncontrollably.

“Hey! What gives?!” Hallow touched her face and winced; there was a large welt on the front of her snout.

You…hahaha! You must’ve stunned those guys into submission with your teeth! They weren’t ready when you pulled, and the rope came back and whacked you! Oh Celestia, that was magic…” The pegasus collapsed into another fit of giggles and drifted down to earth, clutching her stomach as she rolled around in hysterics. Hallow looked around at the crowd; they were all laughing too, and she grinned slowly once again, suddenly thrilled that she had made so many ponies happy. The competition didn’t really seem to matter anymore as she looked back into those smiling faces and waved. Her eyes flicked over to the three stallions as she retrieved her teeth and popped them back into place.

“See ya around, boys!” She cackled to herself and trotted off the field; while most ponies would be going to clean off, Hallow vowed she would keep the mud for at least the rest of the day, as a memento to the wonderful feeling of accomplishment welling up in her chest.

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It had been a whole year. A whole year since Applejack lost the Iron Pony Competition to her best friend Rainbow Dash. A whole year since her hopes of claiming a friendly game of athletic events she was sure to be better in were smashed by what she called unfair play between ponies. But this year was different. There was no cheating allowed, everypony knew what the rules were, and no one was going to slip a fast one past the honest orange apple pony. And she had been training and hoping for her chance to compete again to cover the embarrassment of being defeated in such a manner. Today, Applejack was to wipe those memories away with her pose and determination. Today, she wanted to prove to her friends what she can do. Today, she was to be the Iron Pony.

"I'm ready to give it a go. But I'm warning you, it's going to be a while before you can take me down!" Applejack said confidently to the blue pegasus who was running the event. "Just tell me when and I show you how clean I can stay." It wasn't that Applejack minded getting dirty in competition, Applejack couldn't wait to get dirty in the mud. She was just sure that by the time she finally got pulled in, maybe to the fantasy of more than three ponies having to pull, she would have won the event.


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** this post submitted for judging **

Watching the competition with great interest was a red maned lanky mare in a cowboy hat. This was Haymaker, oldest sibling of the Hay Family and a mare who loved accepting challenges. This rough-and-tumble farm pony wanted to give this event a try. After all, Haymaker was quite strong and very stubborn, especially with her siblings. Her only brother Hayseed and her 'kid' sister Haywire could only watch when their older sister approached the arena after hearing the call asking for the next contestant.

"That would be me, now step aside and I'll show y'all how it's done!" the confident Earth pony proclaimed before she bowed her head low to grab the end of the rope in her teeth. As her three competitors on the other side of the mud pit hesitated, the crafty red maned mare took full advantage of the time, tying HER end of the rope to the base of her tail and then turning to wrap the rest of it once around her flank, grasping it tightly in her mouth before the order to start was given.

"What in the hay is she doin'?" Hayseed asked his little sister.

"Whatever she's doin', I don't think it's gonna help," replied Haywire as the Tug-Of-War began. Haymaker soon felt the full force of the stength of her three competitors. All four of her hooves dug into the ground as the determined red maned mare tried in vain to maintain her position. She realized if she was going to have any chance at all to win, she had to pull hard and fast. Using every ounce of might she could muster, Haymaker began to pull backward in one sudden and instant jerking motion.

"Read about this tatic before," the red maned mare thought to herself as she gritted her teeth even harder on the rope in her mouth during her 'jerk' maneuver. For a few seconds, the tatic caught her three competitors off guard, causing all three to move several inches towards the mud pit.

"WE CAN PLAY THAT GAME TOO, LADY!" one of her competitors shouted out as the three pony pullers prepared to perform their very own 'big pull' from their side of the rope.

"OH NO!" Hayseed shouted from the audience.

"I CAN'T LOOK!" Haywire neighed, ducking her head below the bleachers as the three pony competitors yanked their end of the rope hard. Haymaker swallowed nervously seconds before she felt the overwhelming tugging force instantly tensioning her end of the rope. With one swift motion, the red maned mare spun around as the rope wrapped around her flank jerked forward. The end of her rope tied securely to the base of her tail, the super hard pulling motion caused Haymaker to scream in pain as she was momentarily propelled upward by her rear before splashing down, belly flop style, into the mudpit. As Hayseed and Haywire laughed hysterically, a wave of mud from the pit flew towards them, drenching both of them where they stood. The sight of an opponent being shot upward tail end first into the pit brought forth a roar of laughter from the crowd.

As Haymaker slowly climbed out of the pit, she was furious enough to punch the first laughing pony she saw. However, when she caught sight of her brother and younger sister all covered in mud like she was, her anger quickly subsided and she broke into uncontrolable laughter herself! Seeing their sister's reaction, Hayseed and Haywire began to laugh too! The three laughed all the way home, but poor Haymaker would not be able to sit down comfortably again for another week.

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Brighteyes was feeling great. He loved the Iron Pony competitions and the Tug-of-War was one of this favorite events. Last year he'd gotten here late and had been forced to stand in the back, but this time was going to be different. He'd gotten here early and was right next to the action. Everything was going perfectly. The announcer shouted something, and Brighteyes put down his cider to throw his hooves in the air and shout "YEAH!"

"Great, so we have our next contestant!" The announcer said.

"Huh?" What had the announcer just said? Next contestant? Brighteyes was suddenly aware that the crowd had stepped back from him and were all clapping. Why were they clapping? You didn't clap for some random pony who'd gotten a bit excited and shouted in joy. You only clapped when someone won a match or when... "Oh feathers."

Five minutes later Brighteyes found himself standing in the field, rope in his mouth, staring across an empty field as the judge went to find some big ponies for him to pull against. He quickly came back with a huge pegasus that he'd found in the crowd. Brighteyes was suddenly very acutely aware of his own physical stature. He'd always been pretty proud of how fit he was, especially when you consider that he didn't ever get any exercise, but he was really only around average. His opponent was almost twice his size, with a set of barbells as his cutiemark. Barbells. Brighteyes turned his head to look at his lightbulb cutiemark and shuddered. He was dead. D-E-A-D dead. He only had one option.

"Umm, hey, I was just wondering..." Brighteyes said to his opponent, trying to surrender before he embarrassed himself.

"Wondering what, runt? If you can run home to mommy?" The brute said, sneering.

"Well actually..."

"Boo hoo hoo! I'm a baby earth pony. I need my mommy to save me. I don't wanna get dirty. Whaa whaa whaa!" The pegasus mocked.

"Grrr." Brighteyes growled. He really needed to surrender now. If he didn't and that muscle bound jerk said something else there was no way he was going to be able to bring himself to quit. "Actually yes. I don't really like participating in competitive athletic activities, so if you'd apologize for the insults I'd be happy to bow out."

"Haw haw haw! I knew you were just a wimpy as you looked. I don't need you to quit to beat you. I could beat you with both wings tied behind my back!"

"Oh yeah?" Brighteyes yelled angrily. He was really mad now. Who did this fool think he was? Bigger doesn't necessarily mean better, and even if he'd been the Tug-of-War world champ it wouldn't give him license to talk smack like that. Forget quitting. It was time to teach this bully a lesson. "Fine! If you want to be like that then you better prepare to lose! I'm gonna have you in the mud in ten seconds flat!"

"Haw! Didn't you read the rules? You're just tryin' to stay out of the mud as long as you can. You ain't gonna get me dirty!"

Squaring his shoulders, Brighteyes gripped the rope more tightly in his mouth and tried thinking up a plan of action. The ref had selected two other ponies and were leading them over towards the brute. Both of them were large as well, but not quite as big as the monster up front. Suddenly, Brighteyes felt a tingle in his cutiemark. Yes. Yes. That would work. Grinning, he sat down on his flanks and planted his forelegs deeply into the mud in front of him. The pegasus laughed, while his two new teammates looked puzzled. The ref raised an eyebrow, but it wasn't against the rules, so he just shrugged and asked, "Are you ready?"

"Mphhh!" Brighteyes said, loosening his muscles in preparation for what was about to come.


The rope shot forward, dragging Brighteyes behind it as he shot towards the middle. The stance he'd take was building up a nice wall of mud in front of him, but it wasn't enough to keep him from moving. Good, just like he'd planned. The center was coming up fast, and he could see the look of victory in the pegasus's eye. Suddenly, Brighteyes yanked hard backwards, doing nothing but pulling himself forwards and onto his back. A groan came up from the crowd. It looked like it was all over and that Brighteyes would have the lowest time out of everybody. Maybe, but he was still going to be memorable. Planting his back hooves into the wall of mud that had been building in front of him, he extended his legs and pulled hard. To the crowd it looked like he was just lying on his back, but to the other side it felt like someone had just kicked them in the mouth. The two ponies in the back stumbled, but managed to maintain their balance and resume pulling. The pegasus, however, lost his grip on the rope and fell sprawling into the mud. The crowd cheered as the two remaining ponies dragged Brighteyes into the center in just under ten seconds.

Grinning, Brighteyes stood up and took of his mud covered glasses. He looked at the clock and saw that just as he'd expected, he currently had the lowest score of anyone up there. Still, he'd taught that bully a lesson and even though he knew he had no chance of winning, it had been fun. Maybe he'd take part in some of the other events...

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*This post submitted for judging*

Cheers erupted from an arena surrounded by ponies. Cheers? What on earth for? Ocean Eyes, a unicorn pony from the Gallopacus Islands had been in Ponyville for a vacation. Vacation meaning she had been accompanying Forest Ranger on his trip to the Everfree Forest to look at trees for his new house he was building. Supposedly there was a surplus of some kind of tree that the older unicorn wanted cut down. Apparently there would be something here for her to do. Something fun to do that is. That was what Forest told her, but she didn't know. She didn't pay much attention to his fancy tree talk either, all she knew is that Vacation time was here at last! The two had been walking around the village which was completely packed. Neither really knew why. But after hearing those cheers, Ocean eyes was curious. Incredibly curious.

"Forest? What's over there?" Ocean Eyes asked her brother. The unicorn didn't respond. He had been looking at a piece of paper and marking something down on it. The pony had spent most of the morning counting certain kind of trees. He was calculating something in that strange brain of his. Whatever it was, it bored Ocean. She wanted to do something. "Forest I'm going to go check that thing out, bye!" Ocean Eyes instantly started off toward the large crowd of ponies. Then all of a sudden, her tail was trapped by Celestia knows what. Ocean turned her head to see a green glow holding her tail. "Oh no fair!" She whinnied. Forest had used his magic to hold her back. The stallion was always good at using magic while she hardly knew much at all. She could make pretty little things with water and make a ribbon tie her dredlocks back... Sometimes the ribbon trick didn't even work.

"Deal with it." Forest replied to her sternly. His sister was acting like a little filly, again. Not that this wasn't unusual but he wished it would stop sometimes. "You need to just hold up for a moment. Let me finish these calculations and we can go check it out." The stallion told her. He really couldn't believe that he told her they could go check it out, but whatever made her happy. He liked to see her happy. It didn't take him long to finish (in his mind) but in Ocean Eye's mind, he took hours. "Ok let's go!" She yelled as she raced over.

The young mare ran over at top speed to the group of ponies. That was when she saw it. A Tug-of-war game! After watching two ponies she was confused. "How do you win! It's three versus one!? That's not fair." Forest had walked up behind her, he had another friendly pony explain the rules of the game to him as he watched. "Its a competition to see how long you can stay out of the mud. In the end you'll get muddy. It's a strength and endurance sort of thing." He explained while watching the competitors. "I don't think you should do it. I hear there is a diving competition though. Maybe you could try that?" He didn't want her getting all muddy. That would just be annoying to him.

Ocean Eyes pondered this for a moment. The diving sounded cool. But this sounded fun though too. Maybe Forest should do this. He was a stromg pony. He carried trees and built houses. He could hold his own for a bit! Even if it WAS against three ponies. "Fine I won't do it." She replied in a sad voice. The shorter unicorn then started to walk off. Little did Forest know that prank she was about to play. Forest was happy that his sister decided against it. He heard the call for the next competitor. No pony went up though. The he felt himself get rammed forward. Because of the force behind it, he was moves up quite a few steps. Applause followed the ran as well as a giggle. It was then that Forest realized what happened. Ocean Eyes had forced him to go next. Seeing that he really had no choice, Forest Ranger took his spot over by the other rope. The three ponies were laughing at his sister for forcing him into the contest.

"You ready tree boy?" One called out to him. Where they came up with the name tree boy, he didn't know but he was in fact ready. Forest turned his head to make sure he had a decent amount of rope behind him before picking it up in his jaws. Forest dug his hooves into the ground and prepared to meet the mud. The other three smirked at their next 'victim' and then grabbed hold of the rope. Forest leaned backward with all his strength and waited for the first tug.

The first tug was a hard synchronized pull from all three ponies. It probably would have sent any pony flying had they not been prepared. Even Forest moved quite a lot. As soon as he felt the line slack a little, he pulled back, hard. The three seemed slightly impressed with 'tree boy's' power. That's what you get for carrying trees and logs for a living though. He didn't let up with the pulling though. That would only give the others and advantage. Instead he kept moving backwards inch by inch. Every inch he moved back, he dug his hooves into the dirt as much as he could.

His muscles were screaming at him to let go, but Ocean Eyes was cheering for him and he did not want to let her down. It was sad that everything came down to protacting the mare and making her happy. Forest glanced over at her. She was bouncing up and down screaming something. He couldn't hear. All he heard was jibberish and pounding in his ears. While he was distracted, he had let the rope go slack. The other three seized their opportunity and tugged back hard.

Forest Ranger was pulled up quite a lot. However he wasn't in the mud just yet. Almost though. Thankfully he had backed up enough to allow him to be pulled a full body length. He had fallen very little space between him and the mud so he quickly used all his strength to move back. He managed to move back to where he was at the beginning, but his legs were growing tired. How ponies could do this for a long time was beyond him. He knew the end was coming, but he still had one trick to extend his time by a little.

The ponies gave another large tug and Forest loosened his grip on the rope almost completely and let it go toward the other three. This made them stumble a little bit. They didn't fall like Forest had originally thought. The trick did it's job though. Once he tightened his grip on the rope again, he could move backward a step and ready himself for a few more tugs before being completely thrown into the mud. The Unicorn started to give up because he was tired. Had be been going at this for a few minutes? A few second? Or maybe a few hours? He didn't know. But he did know his own limit.

One particularly hard tug drew Forest right up to the mud, but not in it. His front hooves were slipping off the dirt. The unicorn rose on his back hooves and gave a weaker pull in hopes that he could get his front hooves down again. Unfortunately it didn't work. The ponies gave one hard tug on their end and Forest Ranger was in the mud. For the record, mud tasted awful.

When Forest came out of the mud, he did his best to shake off. He could get rid of the mud with magic later. "Impressive Tree Boy!" The ponies called. "You lasted much longer than we thought." Forest felt pleased with that. "Well I carry trees for a living." He explained. The other ponies laughed. "Later Tree boy." They told him.

Forest smirked and walked over to Ocean eyes. She was very happy and excited. "That was awesome Forest! You did really well! I knew you could! That's why I made you go in and and and and-" Ocean Eyes started her excited ramblings. It was kind of funny. "Did you know that the Iron Pony is happening! You just competed in an Iron Pony event! Did you know that!?" She asked him before rambling on and on about something not so important. Forest used his magic and closed her mouth for a moment. "Of course I knew. Why do you think I brought you along. I figured you would enjoy this for your vacation." Forest responded.

This made Ocean Eyes smile. "Best Vacation. Ever!" She shouted. The two left the crowd of cheering ponies. Forest had no idea of his time, but judging by the amount of 'good jobs' and 'nice' and other compliments, he guessed it was pretty decent. The duo walked along in silence until Ocean Eyes broke it. "You're muddy. Maybe you should do the diving thing to wash the mud off." All Forest could do was laugh. Maybe he would stay muddy for a bit longer.

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The Tug of War was the only one of the three competitions that Rainbow Dash was well and truly worried about. Last year, the Iron Pony competition had been about winning! That meant using all your advantages - not just speed, strength, and agility, but also creativity, style, and clever tactics. This year, though, it was all ... regulated. So many restrictions and regulations, to put everypony on a 'level playing field' ... as if there really could be such a thing! Everypony had their strengths and weaknesses, they were just restricting some pony's strengths and not others. Still, Dash meant to win.

For the other two competitions, she could use her cleverness and knowledge for an advantage. Here, though ... this was nothing more than a feat of pure strength and grit. No wily strategy, no way to think outside the box, and if she had to be totally honest with herself, she knew she couldn't win on pure muscle. She'd just have to hope that her other two competitions had gotten her enough points to make up for this one!

She strode up to the rope, swallowed nervously and took a deep breath, then raised her hooves to the crowd. "Time for the Iron Pony to start playing dirty!" she cried out, playing the crowd. There was an appreciative chuckle from the audience. If she could play it off as a game, no one would care that she ended up in the mud! She tossed the rope in a loop around her torso, grabbed the end in her mouth, and ignored the three ponies on the far side. Three to one. Sheesh. She stamped into the ground, preparing herself, digging little furrows to give herself just that slightly better hoofhold, and then gave a nod to the judge before throwing herself forward.

She withstood the first jerk, and then it was just waiting it out... she strained to her limit, the rope tightening around her, keeping it from slipping between her teeth. She could just grit those teeth round the rope, lean forward, and let every ounce of her weight and muscle go into keeping her out of that mud a little longer. Sweat poured down her forehead, down her cheeks and neck, as she worked against the pull of those three ponies... but she felt the ground give beneath her hooves, felt herself getting dragged back. She couldn't even lift a hoof to try to step forward... all she could do was dig in, and make those three ponies work for every inch!

Once her first hoof slipped off the edge, it was all over. She tumbled back into the mud, coming up coated in the goo. She gasped, unwrapped herself from the rope, and stepped onto more solid ground as she gave her soaked and bedraggled mane a toss, then lifted her hooves up to the crowd and gave a cheer. YEAH! She'd done her best... now to find out if it was good enough...

No! It had to be good enough! She was Rainbow Dash, and she NEVER lost!

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*This post submitted for judging*

In contrast to the excitement of many competitors, whether it was enthusiasm or nervousness which animated them, Flying Brick waited for her turn with a straight-faced calm. She wondered if there was anything significant in the fact that most of those who were excited were amateurs. *And what, are you calling yourself a professional?* Well, she could technically say that, in that her physical prowness in sport earned the her bits.

Unfortunately, that probably wouldn't be much help here. Street acrobatics were more of an exhibition sport than a competitive one, and focused more on grace, speed, and agility than strength and endurance. That fact was pretty well represented in the brick-red earth pony's physique, that of a gymnast a little more bulky than average. All this added up to a rather unpromising preparation for a tug-of-war.

*Still, nopony else from Stalliongrad is here. Somepony has to represent.* She shrugged as she thought to herself. If she even wanted to be considered a real competitor here, she couldn't limit herself to her forte, and she was not going to shame her home city by backing down.

So, when the announcer called for the next competitor she raised her hoof and stepped forward. "My turn."

As she took her position, she sized up her opposition. It seemed to be a policy to choose one from each of the three pony kinds, probably to ensure both variety in the one side with a consistent challenge to the other. The three ponies on the other side were looking the mare over as well, and weren't apparently sure what to make of her. One, a pegasus stallion with silver coat and a steady gaze, addressed her. "Not a mare of many words?"

"No need to waste breath."

Her earth pony opponent, a younger stallion with a cockier attitude, riposted, "Yeah, you'll need to hold it for your mud dive!"

Flying Brick didn't mind the braggadocio, all part of the game. She flashed him a grin and rejoindered, "Oh, I'll take my mud bath when I'm good and ready, not before!"

Her final opponent, a unicorn mare who looked, ironically enough, the one most used to pulling a tug-of-war rope out of the three, didn't address her opponent directly, instead leaning over to the earth pony stallion and saying, loud enough for Flying Brick to hear "Go a little easier than usual on this one. Acrobats aren't much for the old rough-and-tumble."

The brick-red mare's grin drained into something like a stoic scowl. That kind dig was hardly sportspony-like! "Don't spare on my account; Stalliongrad builds strong!"

And with that remark, she took the rope in her mouth, and planted her hooves. The three across the mud grabbed their side and set to. Immediately, Flying Brick found herself having to readjust her footing and began to feel just how much out of her depth she was. An athlete who's training is unsuited to a sport is not better than an amateur, aside from developing strength and endurance. However, the strength to pull oneself over a wall, and the endurance needed to run a gauntlet through a construction zone served her well enough through the first few tugs.

The real problem was the terrain. *So much dirt, mud, I can't get a grip with my hooves! Not like good stone or brick.* The lack of traction may well have been the point, but with the pulling from the other side ate up a little more distance with each tug, her thoughts were hardly appreciative. She leaned her entire body back in an effort to slow the momentum, but a few more seconds brought her hooves to the edge of the mud.

All thought was subsumed to the moment, to the effort. She was operating on instincts now, but her instincts were not those of what the unicorn called the "rough-and-tumble," but were rooted in the acrobatic tradition of her own city. That, at any rate, was the explanation she gave afterward for what she did next. As the next, and to all appearances final, tug came, she suddenly sprang into the air over the pit!

The sudden give in the slack caused her three opponents to fall into a sitting position as the observed her skyward arc. Her name and talent were well matched; the flying leap had brought her nearly to the other side, her back hooves planting into the mud on her opponents' side. Giving a bow to her rather nonplussed opponents, and another to the crowd, along with a big grin, she then tipped herself backwards into the mud. "Like I said, when I'm ready!" She called out to her earth pony opponent, and to his credit he laughed good-naturedly enough.

Flying Brick didn't even bother to look over to the time board as she walked away. The ending moment was perfect, and to exit to the cheers of the crowd, that was enough for her.

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