When Rainbow Dash and Applejack compete against each other in the annual Running of the Leaves, competition turns sour and the ponies do whatever it takes to win.
|Fall Weather Friends|
|January 28, 2011|
|June 24, 2013|
|My Little Pony theme song (version 1)|
|My Little Pony theme song (version 1)|
|Kataomoi no Karaage|
|(List of theme music)|
Applejack and Rainbow Dash are two of the most athletic ponies in Ponyville, so they often like to see which one of them is better. After losing a friendly game of horseshoes, a defeated Rainbow Dash challenges Applejack to an "Iron Pony" competition: a series of events that would show, once and for all, which one of them is the best. Twilight Sparkle is asked to judge and keep score while Spike voluntarily provides commentary- mostly because he could. The rest of the girls show up to watch the contest and help out when they can.
While the event is "all in good fun", both girls give the competition all they've got. It's a close match-up, with Rainbow Dash's agility and Applejack's farm-grown brawn each winning them one contest after another. With the competition tied up, and now having drawn a large crowd, Rainbow Dash begins using her wings during the second half of the competition. Thanks to her wing power, she wins by a landslide but Applejack accuses her of cheating. Arguably, it wasn't a stated rule, but Applejack assumed Rainbow would show sportsmanship. So to settle the score, once and for all, Applejack challenges Rainbow Dash to a race; not just any race, but the annual "Running of the Leaves", a traditional event where the competitors shake the loose autumn leaves down from the trees through the vibrations caused by the running. (Wait, wasn't it winter two episodes ago?) Rainbow Dash accepts, but there is now one rule: she may not use her wings.
The following day, ponies from all over town arrive to compete in the race. Applejack takes additional measures to make sure Rainbow doesn't use her wings, using a rope to tightly secure them to her side. But then there's an additional surprise: Twilight has joined the race. This amuses the other girls because she is hardly athletic and had even admitted that she learned about running through reading. But she tells them that she's not in the race to win but to take in the scenery and help knock down the leaves.
The race begins, with Pinkie Pie and Spike providing commentary from the sky. While Spike tries to be professional, Pinkie Pie acts like her usual self and makes strange analogies. Meanwhile, Applejack and Rainbow Dash are neck-and-neck for the lead. At one point, Applejack trips over and falls behind. She immediately accuses Rainbow Dash of tripping her, but Twilight points out that she actually tripped over a rock. She gets her composure and makes a dash for the lead, leaving Rainbow in the dust. Later on, Rainbow trips over a stump and also jumps to accusations, but in this case she actually believes that, despite Twilight's similar observation, Applejack has begun to play dirty; so, in return, she plans to cheat as well.
Rainbow catches up with Applejack, then smacks her with a bent tree branch to knock her out of the lead. Applejack catches on to what she's doing and starts returning the favor. For the rest of the race, the girls set traps to set each other back. At one point, Rainbow Dash flips a sign to send Applejack off course, who then hitches a ride on the Pinkie and Spike's balloon to catch up. With the two girls continuing to trick each other, rather than racing, a losing Twilight trots by to point out that the Running of the Leaves should involve actual running.
With that, the girls make a break for the finish line. But in the final stretch, they continue to hold each other back by knocking into each other and biting each others tails. (Ha, ha! Horseplay.) But then, Applejack accidentally bites off the rope that had tied Rainbow's wings. Rainbow Dash takes the chance and begins to fly to the finish line, but then Applejack jumps onto her before she can get very far; the girls, literally, fight each other towards and across the finish line. But to their shock, they learn that they had tied; adding insult to injury, they tied for last and they were even beaten by Twilight Sparkle, who used her conserved energy to make a dash for 5th place.
After the shock settles in, Rainbow Dash and Applejack admit that they only lost because they were too busy being poor sports and Princess Celestia, who was a guest at the event, arrives to acknowledge the lesson they've learned. The two apologize to the princess for having to watch them behave in the way they did, which she accepts, but assures them that getting "swept up in competition" could happen to anybody. (I refuse to say "anypony".) Twilight agrees, and reminds them that the friendship is always more important than the competition. Additionally, Celestia points out that, because of their antics, most of the leaves on the trees have not fallen. The girls assure her that they can knock down the leaves, and head off on another run; now focuses and without heated rivalry.