In reality, some girls like ponies. In TV Land, all
girls like ponies. Especially
the Spoiled Brats
. This especially applies to girls who are young enough to be in the Princess Phase
Ponies tend to be the stock Christmas wish that has no chance of ever coming true. References to formerly owned ponies can also mark a character as a Fallen Princess
Of course, the trope is parodied when it's a boy who likes ponies
, and is an easy opportunity for creators to slip in My Little Phony
This trope is mostly confined to North America and Western Europe, and relatively recent times. Back before the automobile, and in many parts of the world down to the present day (especially the Middle East, home of the world's best horses), there's nothing particularly feminine about liking horses. Nor even about liking ponies; Genghis Khan
rode a pony. And even in North America and Western Europe, this is an Evolving Trope
, which has been undergoing some highly unexpected developments since about 2010
Compare Pony Tale
(a specific kind of book where the pony love is central to the plot), Girls Love Stuffed Animals
, Pink Means Feminine
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- A line in Frozen Moonlight reads "Misao had the gleeful shock of a child who'd suddenly gotten everything they'd ever wanted for Christmas, plus a pony."
- In the Discworld fanfic The Ace of Swords, zoo director Johanna Smith-Rhodes drops everything to capture the unicorn she covets for the zoo. In her overwhelming desire to get a unicorn, she forgets everything her Assassin training taught her, including making sure there's an escape route if it all goes pear-shaped. She is rescued, ingloriously, by the City Watch and her more level-headed colleague Miss Alice Band.
- Cruel Intentions 2 uses a racy version of this trope where proper horse-riding technique is used as a metaphor for sex.
- In Serenity, Mal dresses as a woman to get into the temple where Inara is being held. His first words to her are:
Mal: Dear Buddha, please bring me a pony, and a plastic rocket—
- Jessie's previous owner Emily in Toy Story 2. At least until she grows older...
- Discussed in George of the Jungle—the girls are all watching George frolicking with the horses, when one of the male guests at the party (who, of course, cannot see the King of the Jungle) comments "What is it with chicks and horses, huh?"
- From Tim Burton's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory: Veruca obtains her golden ticket, smiles and says: "Daddy, I want another pony."
- From Batman Returns:
The Penguin: Hey...why should I trust some cat-broad anyway? Maybe you're just some screwed-up sorority chick, who's getting back at her daddy for not buying her that pony when she turned sweet sixteen!
- Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story: There's a close equivalent where Peter finds out through Kate's home decorating that she's obsessed about unicorns.
- In The Ultimate Gift Jason was told by a dying girl that her wish is to ride a horse. He takes her horseback riding and comes to find out it is her mother who is the one who likes horses so the trope is still being used but this one girl might be one of the few in fiction to ever says that she doesn't like horses.
- In Taken Bryan Mills wants to build a closer relationship with his teenage daughter Kim. She lives with her mother, Lenore, and her wealthy stepfather, Stuart. During Kim's 17th Birthday, he buys her an expensive karaoke machine because she wants to become a singer, only to be upstaged by Stuart, who surprises her with a horse which makes her so happy she forgets all about the karaoke machine.
- Discussed in Lost in Translation. Charlotte mentions all girls go through a horse phase and a photography phase.
- Piers Anthony beats this trope to death, resurrects it, and then beats it to death again, and keeps on beating it in just about all his writing. ...maybe because he actually is the father of a horse-crazy girl.
- Possibly the reason why American Girl Felicity Merriman exists. That and princess-y clothes, but she was far more historically accurate back in the day and still had the horse thing going on.
- In Soul Music, there's a bit about how a certain type of girl who will refuse to clean her bedroom, even at gunpoint, will fight for the privilege of mucking out a stable. Susan, however, is very much an exception, until she meets Binky.
- Adora Belle Dearheart (aka Spike) averts this, mentioning that she had a pony when she was younger but didn't like it very much. But she used to watch it run around or whatever you're supposed to do with the things.
- In Hogfather, Death, posing as the Santa Expy, promises to deliver a pony to a little girl, complete with jodhpurs. Cue said girl's mother trying to explain they live in an apartment.
- One Ross O Carroll Kelly novel claims that girls who grew up owning a horse end up mentally messed up, as their first love never showed any affection (horses not being the kindest of pets).
- At least some of the adaptations of Black Beauty, which may have even started the whole trend.
- George R. R. Martin has somebody theorize in his A Song of Ice and Fire that women like horses because they rub them the right way. Although there are a few women who dislike horses, namely Sansa.
- Laisa of the Vorkosigan Saga. While a shrewd merchant/scholar, she is immediately taken with the idea of riding a horse when she visits Barrayar. This is justified though; her home planet, Komarr, is two notches up from being a lifeless rock, and so her wanting to ride a horse outside is kind of like someone from Arizona wanting to ski.
- Subverted by Cordelia Vorkosigan. When confronted with horseback as the only option for escape from assassins, she's not happy about it. Her home planet, like Laisa's, isn't known for its animals, and she's never been on one before. Afterward, she still doesn't care for horses, possibly because they remind her of her possibly-homicidal father-in-law.
- In 'Mountains of Mourning' you have this "God, thought Miles jealously, if I had half the sex-appeal of that bloody horse I'd have more girlfriends than my cousin Ivan. " Ivan being well known for his bed hopping.
- In 'Komar' Ekaterin admits to having gone through this phase.
- At the beginning of And Another Thing, four of the main characters experience a Lotus-Eater Machine in which each of them are saved from the cliffhanger of Mostly Harmless in different ways. Fourteen year old Random Dent thinks they were rescued by unicorns.
- Oh-so-many paperback book series aimed at young girls, including The Saddle Club, Pony Pals and Thoroughbred books.
- Shel Silverstein's poem "Little Abigail and the Beautiful Pony" is about a girl who withers away and dies when her foolish parents refuse to buy her a pony; the poem ends with the suggestion that the young reader use it to get stuff from his/her parents.
- Averted in the Secret Country books by Pamela Dean. Of the three female main characters, Ruth and Ellen are competent riders, but not terribly interested in horses. Laura, however, hates horses with a passion and tends to fall off of them as soon as she's put in the saddle. This is inconvenient for her, since the person she pretends to be for two books plays this trope straight.
- Subverted in The God of Animals by sisters Alice and Nona, who, having grown up in depressing circumstances on a struggling horse farm, have no illusions about horses, particularly in regards to the show circuit. Played more or less straight with Sheila, though she's viewed as a silly Spoiled Brat by the protagonist.
- Taken Up to Eleven in Winni Allfours. The girl of the title loves ponies, but her parents won't buy her one. In a whimsical twist, Winni eats all her vegetables to turn into a pony herself!
- In the third Codex Alera book, double-agent Rook has her daughter held hostage as leverage, and said daughter is very intent on getting away and going somewhere with ponies.
- Parodied in Our Dumb World, where the map of Zimbabwe points out a little girl soldier who wants to blow up an pony for her birthday.
- In Harry Potter Parvati Patil and Lavender Brown go into fits of delight whenever they get shown horse-like magical creatures such as Hippogriffs, centaurs and unicorns. With regards to the unicorns, Alpha Bitch Pansy Parkinson is described as having to "work hard to conceal how much she liked them."
- Jessi and Mallory in The Baby-Sitters Club books.
- A Brother's Price features a broad inversion of most gender roles. The two most prominent young men in the book, Jerin and Cullen, both adore horses, Cullen moreso than Jerin. Cullen's sisters don't let him near them because he had some "great-great-grandfart that got kicked in the head and died". His cousin sometimes takes him to the stables to pet them over a low wall, but won't let him get closer. He's deeply envious of Jerin, whose family raises horses and lets him ride the older, gentler mares.
- Both invoked and averted in The Pinhoe Egg when Julia and Janet fall passionately in love with the idea of owning a horse, but one is terrified of the actual animal and the other dislikes riding.
- A male example is Zandakar - a prince - and his pony Didijik being extremely close in Karen Miller's Empress. Hekat, his mother and effective queen of Et-Raklion, uses Didijik's death in a fall to accuse the warlord's right-hand-man Hanochek of dereliction of duty and has him expelled from the city and sold into slavery. She punishes her son as well, making him wear leggings made from the pony's hide.
- It's implied in Equoid that there's a sinister reason for girls' love of ponies... Shub-Niggurath, (which is a bizarre equine creature, at least in part of its life-cycle) uses them to spread (as its female young resemble My Little Ponies) and... other things
- Inverted in the Junie B. Jones books. Junie B. is scared to death of ponies because her babysitter let her watch a reality show on TV called When Ponies Attack.
Live Action TV
- Summer from The O.C.. Also, Marissa's little sister Caitlin, before she got Soap Opera Rapid Aging Syndrome. And non-little-girl Seth, of course.
- Elliot Reid from Scrubs. Prior to one episode her "best moment" of working in medicine was being able to ride a horse to work.
- JD's liking unicorns (and unicorns) should be noted as detrimental to his image in Dr Cox's eyes.
- Season 9 has Lucy (JD's Suspiciously Similar Substitute with a bit of Elliot thrown in) who is completely obsessed with horses. she even has a funeral for one of her stuffed horses after it gets destroyed.
- In one episode of The L Word, the titular lesbians have a party, and one of them speculates that straight girls wanted ponies, while lesbians wanted monkeys, and they ask around the table. The bisexual ones say ponies, and one says "Racecar".
- Veronica Mars must have used the pony joke at least five times.
- Rachel on Friends mentions having a pony once.
- Cordelia on Angel has a bracelet made of hair from the tail of her former pony, Keanu. (They actually manage to turn that into a plot point.)
- As a vampire, Harmony's passion for unicorn figurines has not diminished.
- The Seinfeld episode "The Pony Remark". Jerry talks about how anyone who had a pony when they were a kid is a Spoiled Brat and he hates them, only to accidentally offend a Polish immigrant who had come from a country where having a pony was very common.
- Amanda from The Latest Buzz even goes so far as attempting to hide her pony in the office when she thinks her father is going to take it away.
- Daisy in Spaced, while arguing with Marsha about mothers (Series 1 Episode 6). According to the DVD commentary, Daisy had originally wanted a Tacchini jacket, but that was felt to be too obscure:
Marsha: All she wanted to do was show you somebody cared about you.
Daisy: If she'd wanted to do that, then she could have bought me that pony!
- In Robin Hood After a fight with Marian, Guy of Gisborne tries to appease her by...bringing her a pony! And it works. Of course in the Middle Ages getting a horse was rather like getting a car; a pretty palfrey was the equivalent of a classic convertible.
- Similarly, on The Mentalist, when Patrick Jane misses Teresa Lisbon's birthday (or at least turns up without a present,) she gets upset. Rather annoyed, he says, "What? Upset you didn't get your pony?" At the end of the episode, her absent present comes. It is, of course, a pony.
- In the later seasons of Full House, Michelle rides horses at a barn, and one of the other girls there races her and causes her to fall off the horse and get amnesia. In an earlier season, DJ and Kimmy try to buy a horse with hilarious results, and Becky mentions a love of horseback riding a few times.
- Hilariously averted in Leverage: Parker is absolutely terrified of horses, stemming from a traumatic childhood incident in which a man in a horse suit beat up a clown during a birthday party.
- Ruthie rides a horse on Sunday in an episode of 7th Heaven.
- On Castle:
- Castle offers to buy Beckett a pony to make up for having poked into her mother's murder when she asked him not to. She's distinctly unimpressed.
- Beckett herself explains that every girl goes through a phase of wanting a Moped "when we realize we're never going to get a pony".
- On the Santa Claus Conquers the Martians episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000, Gypsy stated she want a pony for Christmas.
- In The Golden Girls S6:E11 (Stand by Your Man), Dorothy explains just how badly she wanted a pony when she was six:
Rose: I really wish you'd try to get along with Bingo. I mean, maybe you don't know the fun you can have with a pet. Have you ever actually had one?
Dorothy: Well, of course I had a pet. Remember, Ma? I was six years old and I wanted a pony?
Sophia: Not the pony thing again.
Dorothy: She promised me a pony. She swore I'd get a pony. She brings me a little paper bird on a stick from the circus. You know, the kind that you have to twirl around your head to get them to tweet?
Rose: And that was your pet?
Sophia: They're very clean.
Dorothy: Then she tells me if I'm a good girl, a really good girl, God will turn the paper bird into a real one. Which I believe, because why would a mother lie? So every day I'm being very good, and praying, and looking for any sign of life. And becoming very attached to that ridiculous paper bird. So you can imagine my heartbreak when one morning I find it dead.
Rose: How does a paper bird die?
Dorothy: Good question. Someone used it to restart the pilot light.
- In the Everwood pilot Andy bribes Delia into moving to Colorado by telling her she can get her own pony.
- In 2 Broke Girls, both Caroline and Max adore Caroline's horse Chestnut.
- Young Olive from Pushing Daisies wanted one after her first riding lesson. When her parents refuse she tries to go to Arabia, by taking the shortest possible route. About ten feet down she finds a T. Rex skeleton that an Arabian Shaw trades her a horse for the skeleton.
- Game of Thrones
Arya: When am I going to get my own horse?
Sandor: The little lady wants a pony.
Arya: The little lady wants away from your stench.
- From Merlin, adorkable Princess Elena tells Arthur that horse-riding is the only thing she's really good at.
- Jenny from Hey Dad..! was obsessed with getting a pony.
- Tom Petty, "Free Falling".
"She's a good girl; she's crazy about Elvis, loves horses, and her boyfriend too..."
- Jonathan Coulton, "Skullcrusher Mountain"
"I made this half-pony half-monkey monster to please you
But I get the feeling that you don't like it
What's with all the screaming?
You like monkeys, you like ponies
Maybe you don't like monsters so much
Maybe I used too many monkeys
Isn't it enough to know that I ruined a pony making a gift for you?"
- Louis C.K., no stranger to deconstructing "adorable animal" cliches, recounts a story of him showing his daughter a large gathering of Italian wild ponies. She was elated right up until one of them reached down and bit her on the leg. CK and his kid looked it up later and discovered that, in fact, "ponies are assholes; they bite all the time!"
- Bella Sara is a trading card game that banks on this trope.
- My Little Pony is made of this trope.
- Lisa Frank. Bonus points for Tastes Like Diabetes.
- There have been a number of Barbie toys over the years involving ponies and horses.
- Maria Luna of Backyard Sports almost perfectly fits this trope. She has a huge collection of pony dolls and wants a real one. This is subverted, however, when she goes to the circus; she hates the ponies there.
- Robot Unicorn Attack is this trope turned Up to Eleven. Although honestly, who wouldn't want a robot rainbow unicorn?
- The box cover art for pretty much every horse-caring/raising/racing game will be aimed towards girls.
- In DeathSpank , while performing fetch quests for Orphan Annie, DeathSpank tells her "If the next words out of your mouth are I Want a Pony" to which Annie answers "Really?!". Quest Update: Buy a pony for Annie.
- "Ghostcrawler promised me a pony!" is a World of Warcraft meme, referenced in-game by the 2010 addition of the Celestial Steed.
- The main Big Bad in Portal 2 tries to lure you into a Bottomless Pit by enticing you with the fact there's a Pony Farm.
- Sissy's Magical Ponycorn Adventure features, as the title might lead you to believe, ponycorns, which are sort of like Unicorns, but smaller. Pony-sized, you might say.
- Referenced in Mass Effect 3 when Liara's father buys her a commando unit. When Liara questions why a commando unit her father tells her that she's too old for a damn pony. (Liara is barely 100 years old, which still is very young for Asari)
- In MySims Kingdom, "a new pony or two" is the standard gift for placating Princess Butter, though special cases — like not being made Wandolier — call for something more rare, like a unicorn.
- Referenced in a rather dark manner in BlazBlue: Continuum Shift EXTEND during the true ending of Slight Hope. After being told that asking Tsubaki about Noel caused his plans to implode, Makoto demands Hazama explain himself. He retorts that she might as well ask for a pony if she's going to wish for unlikely things. The reason it's dark is that [A] Hazama is not known for being politically correct and [B] his tone of voice and facial expression at the time are meant to tell the viewer that his patience with her has finally expired.
- In Darths & Droids, Sally "invents" Jar Jar Binks, giving him a pony face, then later describes the Gungan army as having dinosaur ponies.
- Millie from Ozy and Millie likes ponies. (On the other hand, so does the Dread Pirate Locke, so in that universe it might be a species thing instead of a gender thing. Or even a hereditary thing.) Word of God wonders just what exactly Millie would do with a pony. "Make it do her homework?"
- From the same creator, Phoebe of Phoebe And Her Unicorn watches the Pastel Unicorns TV show and owns the toys, despite having a real talking unicorn for a best friend.
- Amber from Shortpacked! collects My Little Pony figurines. Ethan got her started because he wanted to comfort her and give her something to do. The fact that this also turned her into a willing accomplice for his own toy collecting obsessions must have been purely coincidental, in no way at all. She was rather annoyed when a Brony showed up and claimed that nobody liked brushable My Little Ponies. She also nearly has a Squeesplosion when Robin brings a pony into the house as a gift for another person.
- One story arc of The Inexplicable Adventures of Bob! involves the characters encountering unicorns, and both Jean and Molly are totally smitten with the creatures. Molly, in particular, had requested a pony for her first birthday, and assumes she has gotten her wish when she meets the giant unicorn Unigar the Vast Unicorn.
- Joyce Brown from It's Walky!, to the point where her battle mech only responds to commands with the word "pony" in them.
- Also played with, in that by that time she has changed a lot and is actually annoyed that the mech's programmer made those assumptions about her.
- Homestuck, is a subversion in that Rose's mom presents a pony to her in (what Rose views as) a passive-aggressive attempt to smother her, and really doesn't want the pony (named MAPLEHOOF).
- In one chapter of Eerie Cuties, Nina is hit by a gender-reversal orb and becomes a boy. Later, when she is changed back, she says: "Hey! I like ponies again!"
- Played straight and parodied in this strip of Penny Arcade. All of the girls do love ponies, but then, so does Gabe.
- This Girls with Slingshots strip.
- Graham offers Celeste a Pony in Wizard School to let him go back to the real world - although he wants to feed it "processed pony chow, made from other ponies. Or whatever it is neglected ponies eat.".
- In Sinfest:
- In Skin Horse, Unity's reaction when she ends up in an allegedly wish-granting grove is, "I'mo get a pony made out of bacon!"
- My Little Pony is built off this trope, and Megan, the main human character, has a pony of her own (that can't talk). She also takes Firefly's appearance out of nowhere and being whisked off to a land of talking ponies quite well.
- My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, in spite of its Periphery Demographic (adults ranging from 18-25), is very much aimed at little girls, and the diverse personalities of the characters were made specifically to appeal to various little girls. As Lauren Faust says, "There's no wrong way to be a girl."
- Ironically, this trope has no in-universe presence in most adaptations of the toyline, since there are no humans. The girls are the ponies themselves. The first series was the only one with humans in it.
- That said, My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic seems to prove that a good number of men like ponies.
- Lisa Simpson from The Simpsons. On her Christmas list, she listed "pony" over and over again. She finally got one in Season 3, "Lisa's Pony".
- Not to mention the time she's at a country club, complaining about the snobs, when she sees someone riding a horse. The predictable happens.
- Margo Sherman from The Critic (mostly horses, though).
- Dee-Dee from Dexter's Laboratory is a pony fancier, as are her cloney best friends.
- And there was the episode where she asked Dexter to turn her into a pony because she liked the My Little Pony expy so much.
- Yin from Yin Yang Yo prefers Twonicorns but they're horses with two horns, who are erudite and speak in tough guy voices.
- Ginger of As Told by Ginger likes horses enough that her room is decorated with a horse motif.
- Amy from Futurama. When Kif creates a holographic pony for her as a romantic gift, she comments that it looks exactly like the pony her parents wouldn't let her have, because she already had too many.
- DW in Arthur is obsessed with ponies. When Arthur is trying to invent a new holiday, she immediately blurts out "Pony Day!" without missing a beat. In another episode, her choice for where to go on vacation is — or rather, in a bit of a plot twist, isn't — the theme park Ponyland.
- Francine's dream in one episode was to be an Olympic horseback rider even though at the beginning she had never been on a horse.
- In the episode "The Story on Page One" from Family Guy, Peter attempts to give Meg a pony that she has wanted since she was 6 years old. Except, "Oh. Oh God, that's right... ponies... ponies like food, don't they? Oh boy." No girls like dead ponies. Especially skeleton ones.
- Becky occasionally mentions liking ponies in WordGirl. In the episode where her birthday takes place, her parents rent out a pony so she can ride it around her yard. Becky and several other girls, including villains Leslie and Lady Redundant Woman, have been seen watching a My Little Pony expy.
- Riley from The Replacements. Her obsession with the movie The Majestic Horse takes on epic proportions.
- On The Boondocks little Jasmine is so desperate to get a pony (which she wants to name "Sammy Davis JR the Pony") that she buys one on credit from the local Corrupt Corporate Executive, Ed Wuncler. She promises to pay him back with proceeds from her lemonade stand. But she ends up so deeply in debt to him that she's forced to work day and night just to keep up with the payments, and it's never really clear if her pony even exists (all she ever sees is a photo.)
- While not touched upon directly in the show, Isabella from Phineas and Ferb has ridden her share of horses in the show: a real, feminine-looking one in "The Magnificent Few", a mechanical one in "Ain't No Kiddie Ride", and...Phineas as a centaur in "Isabella and the Temple of Sap" (Thankfully that was just a daydream though).
- Also, when Candace is having a weird dream and her brothers try to lure her off the straight and narrow with pastel unicorns. Dream-Phineas comments on how uncharacteristically girly that is and dream-Ferb reminds him that they ARE inside Candace's dream.
- Penny from The Mighty B! really wanted a pony for her birthday.
- God, the Devil and Bob: Bob mentions that he doesn't think he's ready to deal with his daughter dating. God suggests a pony. "What's a pony gonna do?" "I dunno, I thought girls liked ponies."
- Tina from Bob's Burgers likes horses almost as much as she likes zombies.
- Subverted in Ugly Americans when male demon Twayne is instructed to think of his favorite thing to counter stage fright, he whispers "ponies, ponies, ponies" to himself.
- Played with in The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy, when the cast goes to a backwards shadow dimension. Mandy meets an ultra-girly, feminine version of herself who of course loves ponies. Mandy psychologically BREAKS her, and turns her into an indistinguishably similar clone of herself. The pair then proceed to destroy all of the stuffed animals in the room with a chainsaw and a flamethrower.
- Another episode had Grim try to get money to renew a canceled series obviously parodying My Little Pony called "My Troubled Pony" by turning the violent Schlubs in Billy's backyard (who are themselves parodies of The Smurfs) into gold.
- Subverted with Mandy in yet another episode where they go to Costmo (the Bland-Name Product version of Costco) and buys a gigantic box filled with porcelain unicorns, prompting Grim to wonder out loud why unicorns are such a big deal to little girls. Becomes a Brick Joke at the end where the unicorns are used as baseballs for Mindy to smash with her baseball bat.
- Played with and (double?) subverted in the first Christmas Episode of SpongeBob SquarePants. Mr. Krabs wishes for a pony... with saddlebags full of money.
- An episode of Camp Lazlo had the Beanscout trio trick their Distaff Counterparts, the Squirrel Scouts, into taking their spitting llama (which they thought was a unicorn) by sticking an ice-cream cone on its head. In addition, the Scouts themselves felt lousy that they didn't have any horses.
- Parodied in Dave the Barbarian with Twinkle the Marvel Horse. After Princess Candy grows out of this stage she stops visiting and he doesn't cope very well with being abandoned...
Twinkle the Marvel Horse: I've been...so lonely...in here. Such terrible thoughts one has. Alone. In the dark.
Candy: Uh, like I said, I'm really sorry I haven't visited you in a while.