By Amanda O'Connor

This puzzle was fully produced before we noticed this puzzle from 2016. We tip our hats to Derek Kisman.

This puzzle’s theme is based on My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. In the MLP world, all problems are solved through friendship, and ponies all have cutie marks on their hindquarters that depict their life talents. Cutie marks are branded (in a really friendly way, of course) on ponies’ flanks once they figure out their purpose/mission in life, and can be anything from a trophy to an apple to a dollar sign to a butterfly to a sun, etc. The puzzle is set up as a fashion show, in which specific ponies from the MLP world are showing off new fashion styles. Solvers are supposed to figure out a) that the puzzle is about My Little Pony and b) which specific ponies are doing the modeling, all based on text clues cluing horses/ponies in general and then cluing the specific ponies who are modeling the fashions, either by name, appearance, or speech patterns. Once solvers know which ponies are which, they can ascertain each pony’s cutie mark; since the name of each cutie mark is open to some interpretation (e.g., “butterflies” vs “three butterflies” vs “pink butterflies”), the length of the name of the cutie mark is given in the description of each pony’s runway catwalk. Once the cutie marks are determined, clues indicating win, place, or show appear in each pony’s description and tell the solver to take the first, second, or third letter in the cutie mark’s name. When placed in the order they appear in the fashion show, the letters spell out HORSEBACK RIDE.

Order of Appearance Pony Pony Clued By Cutie Mark Win/Place/Show Extracted Letter
1 Shining Armour Sentinel, reference to wife SHIELD Place, 2 H
2 DJ Pon-3 Musical genius, sunglasses, headphones NOTES Place, 2 O
3 Lyra Heartstrings Being a background pony, tug on your heartstrings LYRE/HARP Show, 3 R
4 Twilight Sparkle Glittering literary friend, reference to big brother STAR Win, 1 S
5 Granny Smith White hair, reference to granddaughter PIE Show, 3 E
6 Pinkie Pie Bouncing, excited speech, magenta BALLOONS Win, 1 B
7 Applejack Western drawl, cereal, reference to grandmother APPLES Win, 1 A
8 Daring Do Adventurer, safari, travels COMPASS Win, 1 C
9 Mr. Cake Reference to employee, sweet, bowtie CAKE Show, 3 K
10 Fancy Pants Celebrity, monocle, trendsetter, entourage CROWNS Place, 2 R
11 Rainbow Dash High-flyer, sporting, prismatic, clearing clouds LIGHTNING Place, 2 I
12 Rarity Uncommon, boutique owner and designer (throughout puzzle) DIAMONDS Win, 1 D
13 Princess Cadence Royal Highness, reference to husband and baby HEART Place, 2 E