And now for somewhere completely different. We open with the ponies riding a train (pulled by ponies, no less) out into the Wild West as Applejack fondly reads a bedtime story.... to a tree. Rarity is not amused by this, or the fact that "Bloomberg" gets an entire cabin all to himself. And why are our little ponies on a train with a tree in the Wild West you ask? To deliver said tree to a new settlement founded by Applejack's relatives as a gift!
After the the title credits play we cut back to the train at night time. While Spike & Rarity try to go to sleep, the rest of the cast have a thoughtful discussion on whether or not Fluttershy is a tree. Spike decides he can't take it and bunks with Bloomberg in the other cabin, apologizing in advance for any snoring he may do. Morning comes and well would you look at that! A herd of buffalo! They have amazing feather accessories! And they're getting close to the train! Really close!
Close enough, in fact, they start side-ramming the train (and the ponies pulling it). When that doesn't stop the train, a small female buffalo hops on top of the train and heads to the back cabin where Bloomberg and Spike (who's sleeping through all of this) are. Rainbow Dash attempts to stop the buffalo girl. She fails. Buffalo girl detaches the cabin with Bloomberg and Spike (who's now awake and screaming for help) and the buffalo get away. Rainbow decides to go after the accursed dragon-nappers while suffering from a headache.
The train reaches its destination and Applejack, Twilight, Rarity, and Fluttershy are instantly greeted by AJ's cousin Braeburn who's all too happy to show them the sights and wonders of APPLELOOSA! After getting a full tour of the town, much to their dismay, Twilight and Co. explain to Braeburn that Spike & Bloomberg have been kidnapped by buffalo, Rainbow Dash went off after them, and Pinkie Pie disappeared off-screen. Braeburn explains that the local buffalo have been causing them trouble for quite some time and want the town's prized apple orchard gone.
Meanwhile Rainbow Dash is using stealth espionage action to locate Spike and get back at the buffalo girl. No one tricks Rainbow Dash and gets away with it! She runs into Pinkie Pie out of nowhere. They start to argue, and then buffalo show up out of nowhere. And Spike! He's all right.
As it turns out, Spike has become bros with the buffalo. He introduces them to Little Strongheart, the buffalo girl that kicked Rainbow Dash's tail earlier, and Chief Thunderhooves, the tribe's leader. They explain to Dash and Pinkie that the Appleloosa ponies have planted their orchard all over their sacred stampeding grounds without their permission. Rainbow Dash agrees and declares they have some apple-picking Appleloosians to talk to.
The next morning, the Appleloosa gang are all set to hike deep into buffalo territory to rescue their friends. They take 10 steps out of town to find Pinkie, Dash, and Spike right there. Group Hug and nuzzles are exchanged, and Rainbow reveals they've brought their new friend Little Strongheart to explain why the Appleloosans should move their apple orchard. Applejack tells them that Braeburn would like to explain why the trees should stay (because the grove is on the only farmable land in the area). Rainbow and Applejack start arguing for them. How will they resolve this conflict? Fear not, for Pinkie Pie the pretty party pony has the perfect plan.
This plan is to dress up in an adorable showgirl outfit and sing a song about sharing and caring to everypony (and everybuffalo). It…doesn't go over well.
Chief Thunderhooves declares that on the next day at noon, if the apple trees aren't gone, they'll stampede them and the whole town into the ground, and the town's sheriff tells him they'll be ready for a fight. Preparations for the battle are made, despite our heroines trying to persuade both sides otherwise. Noon comes and Thunderhooves begins to reconsider his decision. Perhaps there is another way than fighting a war…
Apple pies are thrown, buildings collapse, and Chief Thunderhooves is struck down by an apple pie to the face. The fighting stops briefly and there is mourning…until a piece of the pie lands in Thunderhooves's mouth, instantly springing him to his hooves and says he has a better idea than fighting.
The buffalo allow the apple orchard to stay in exchange for a path to be cut through it and a share of those delicious apple pies. Bloomberg is finally planted in his new home and everyone is happy. Twilight Sparkle's letter to Princess Celestia states that with compromise and understanding, even the greatest of enemies can become friends. You've got to share, you've got to care...
- Accidental Kidnapping: The Buffalo tribe did this with Spike, unaware that he was in the same train car as Bloomberg.
- An Aesop: The worst of enemies can become the best of friends through compromise and understanding.
- Badass Adorable:
- The citizens of Appleloosa are a textbook version of this. Cute cowboy and cowgirl hats? Check. Building a town and growing a huge apple orchard in just a year, in the middle of the desert? Check. Standing firm, defending their town from a huge Buffalo tribe several times bigger and stronger than them, gaining the upper hand and defeating them with apple pies as weapons? Check!!
- "Carrot Top" takes the cake in the battle. She jumps out of the second story of a building, lands on a buffalo's back and rides him rodeo style all while having a big grin on her face!
- Little Strongheart, who is smaller than any of the ponies (and much smaller than any of the other buffalo) but does the bulk of the work in stealing the apple tree, and shows up Rainbow Dash in the process.
- Big "SHUT UP!":Rarity: Would you all be quiet NOOOOW!
- Clueless Aesop: In-Universe. Pinkie Pie's song about sharing is so annoying, it makes things worse.
- Companion Cube: Bloomberg the apple tree.
- Cosmetic Horror: The other ponies are startled by an angry Rarity coming out of the dark in a mud mask and Cucumber Facial to try and shut them up.
- Death Glare: Rarity delivers a rather comical one◊ at the beginning.
- Determined Homesteader: The citizens of Appleloosa aren't going to let heat, a lack of farm land, and hostile buffaloes stop them.
- Disneyfication: Of the treatment of American Indians in the west.
- Dreadful Musician: Pinkie Pie, according to everyone else.
- Early-Installment Weirdness: The horse-drawn train is never used again after this episode. In "MMMystery on the Friendship Express", the train is explicitly shown to have a steam engine. This train has a steam locomotive as well, but a smaller one than the standard Equestria trains. Perhaps the engine-ponies acted as "helpers", allowing the small locomotive to pull the train up steep hills.
- Edible Ammunition: Weaponized apple pies. Bakeries are transformed into munitions factories. Also notably, the fact that the ammunition is edible at all is what's used to stop the battle and return to normal when one lands in Thunderhooves' face.
- Epic Fail: Pinkie Pie uses the power of her songs to deliver a message of caring and sharing to ponies and buffaloes. A reprise of her song ends up escalating the ''war'' between them before it was about to be quelled.
- Eyedscreen: Chief Thunderhooves gets this a couple of times.
- Face Death with Dignity: When the Sheriff runs out of pies with the Chief charging toward him, he places his hat over his chest and waits for the inevitable.
- Face Plant: Rainbow Dash slams face-first into a railroad sign during her first encounter with Little Strongheart.
- Fantastic Aesop: It's easy for your enemies to make peace with you if you fight them with Edible Ammunition.
- Fantastic Racism: To portray settlers Vs. natives, we have buffalo vs ponies.
- Fantasy Conflict Counterpart: The episode deals with a scenario much like early America's Indian Wars, settlers taking over the natives ancestral land for their own purposes, without native consent, which in turn cranks off the natives. Due to the heavily idealistic nature of the show, things get resolved before they escalate too far. More specifically, it could been seen as a fantasy analogue of the conflict over the Black Hills, extremely religiously significant to the Lakota people (much like the buffalo tribe's stampeding path) but also containing a lot of gold and minerals (and therefore of economic significance, much like the apple orchard is to the Appleloosans)
- Furry Confusion: "We have all of the finest comforts. Like horse-drawn carriages..." "Okay, you pull now." "Aw, we just switched!"
- Furry Reminder:
- There's a saloon in Appleloosa called "The Salt Block" where ponies serve salt to customers. This may seem bizarre but if you're familiar with real horses then you would know that salt is an important source of nutrition for horses (usually served in a form of solid blocks of salt). It also helps them keep cool especially in hot areas (like the desert environment where Appleloosa is) through the minerals the salt they consume provides.
- "AAAAAApple-loosa! Hreeheeheehee!"
- The Glomp: Fluttershy may be timid, but she isn't above pouncing on a friend she's very happy and relieved at seeing.
- Herbivores Are Friendly: Pinkie Pie invokes this in her musical number.
- Hey, That's My Line!: Pinkie's reaction at the end of the episode during Twilight's closing narration.
- Hope Spot: The buffalo and Appleloosa stand ready for war, but Little Strongheart stops Chief Thunderhooves and it seems as if the war will be called off and everything will be all right...then Pinkie launches into her song from before, which angers Chief Thunderhooves and the war begins.
- Hurricane of Puns: The tour of Appleloosa. Horse-drawn carriages (with the ponies switching off who was drawing it...), followed by horse-drawn horse-drawn carriages (ponies drawing the above), followed by wild west dances, then mild west dances...
- Immediate Self-Contradiction: Applejack asserts that Bloomberg is not a baby... and then proceeds to comfort it after Rarity's annoyed speech.
- Injun Country: With buffalos as the natives, the desert is this for them.
- Just Train Wrong: The tree (and later Spike) use the train's caboose as a sleeping car. The caboose is meant to be for the train's crew, both for providing shelter and to check the train for any issues.
- Keet: Applejack's cousin, Braeburn. It's quite telling when the first glimpse of him we get is a grin that takes up the majority of his face.
- Lock-and-Load Montage: When the buffaloes and townsponies start preparing for battle.
- Motor Mouth: It takes a good while for Applejack to say anything over Braeburn's extremely enthusiastic introduction to Appleloosa.
- My God, What Have I Done?:
- Applejack seems really horrified during the townsponies' Lock-and-Load Montage; if she and Rainbow Dash hadn't been so busy arguing over who was right, maybe Braeburn and Little Strongheart could have sorted things out diplomatically. At the least, she brought Pinkie Pie along, who technically started the war.
- Everyone, pony and buffalo alike, starts acting this way when a stray pie downs Chief Thunderhooves.
- Mythology Gag: The town name Appleloosa is a reference to the earliest My Little Pony toys, which had Appaloosa spots on their flanks where subsequent versions would have what are now called Cutie Marks.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero:
- If Applejack and Rainbow Dash hadn't been so adamant in defending either side of the conflict and just let them talk, maybe the conflict wouldn't have gotten out of hand.
- Things aren't dangerous until Pinkie Pie does one of her song and dance routines, which is so bad In-Universe that Chief Thunderhooves angrily decides that the buffaloes will have to fight the ponies for their land back.
- Oh, Crap!:
- Little Strongheart quickly recognizes a rather edgy Rainbow Dash when Spike introduces his friends.
- Everyone when Chief Thunderhooves is shot down... by an apple pie.
- Only Sane Man: Braeburn and Little Strongheart seem perfectly willing to have a reasonable discussion, but everyone around them keeps being adamantly belligerent.
- Overly Long Gag: "My father stampeded upon these grounds... and his father before him... and his father before him... and his father before him... and his father before him... and his father before him..." As Chief Thunderhooves says it, we cut to the other buffalo falling asleep, and finally Little Strongheart hoofs him in the jaw, whereupon he gets to the point.
- Pie in the Face: Used by the settlers as if they were weapons. It works.
- Riding into the Sunset: The ending of the episode, complete with an Iris Out which Pinkie Pie briefly interrupts.
- Sapient Steed: Horse-drawn carriages, so it's to be expected. The stallion pulling it stops to tell the stallion inside the carriage that it's his turn to pull.
- Sarcasm-Blind: Pinkie Pie, who completely derails Rainbow Dash's original point:Rainbow Dash: When we get to Appleoosa, you think we'll have to carry that heavy tree all the way from the train to the orchard?
Pinkie Pie: What tree? You mean Bloomberg?
Rainbow Dash: (sarcastically) No. Fluttershy.
Pinkie Pie: Fluttershy's not a tree, silly.
Twilight Sparkle: What's going on?
Pinkie Pie: Rainbow Dash thinks Fluttershy's a tree.
Rainbow Dash: I do not think she's a tree, I was just...
Twilight Sparkle: Did you say she was a tree?
Rainbow Dash: No... well, yes... but... not exactly ...
Twilight Sparkle: You know she's not a tree, right?
Pinkie Pie: She's not a tree, Dashie.
Fluttershy: ...I'd like to be a tree.
- Saving the World With Art: Pinkie Pie tries to invoke this to stop the ponies of Appleloosa and the native buffalo fighting. After her show, the sheriff and the buffalo chief agree... that her performance was the worst thing they ever heard.
- Schizo Tech: Downplayed. Trains in Equestria are shown to have gas-lit cars.
- Scooby-Dooby Doors: Sleeper car berths, anyway. Happens when the mane cast (sans Applejack) is bouncing around the train.
- The Seven Western Plots: The episode is a G-rated interpretation of the taming-the-frontier story. The settlers of Appleloosa have built a town in the desert and established an apple orchard for food, and the episode itself focuses on a conflict between them and the native buffaloes (who serve as generic Plains Tribes stand-ins) over land rights.
- Shout-Out: Early in the episode, Fluttershy calls Spike Huffy the Magic Dragon.
- Showgirl Skirt: Definitely invoked with Pinkie Pie's costume for her musical number.
- Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism: Closer to the center than you might think given the series reputation. Most of both sides are unwilling to compromise or even talk to the other and the situation escalates into full-on violence that neither side wants and both sides regret. Only after a number of "causalities" is an agreement worked out that can make both sides happy.
- Stunned Silence: Follows Pinkie Pie's song, rightfully enough. Only Spike's earnest clapping (and the forlorn cry of a hawk) disturbs it.
- Talking to Plants: Applejack not only talks to Bloomberg, but reads him a bedtime story.
- That Reminds Me of a Song: Pinkie's performance makes the situation worse, twice. The first, the buffalo chief and the sheriff say that that was the worst performance they have ever seen, and the chief decides the next day they will stampede. When they do, the chief has second thoughts, and looks like he's not going to go through with it, until Pinkie starts singing again, which causes him to go through with it.
- This Means Warpaint: The buffalo decorate themselves with red, white, orange and turquoise paint before the final battle.
- Train Job: The buffalo make a heist for Bloomberg.
- Traintop Battle: Little Strongheart vs. Rainbow Dash.
- What Measure Is a Mook?: During the final battle, nameless buffaloes were getting pies in the face left and right and nopony bats an eyelash, but when Chief Thunderhooves gets hit, it triggers a mass My God, What Have I Done? for everypony, even though the pie was a Non-Lethal K.O..