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Ponyville Mysteries: Riddle of the Rusty Horseshoe
Riddle of the Rusty Horseshoe cover
Published October 3, 2017
Author Penumbra Quill
ISBN 978-0-316-55739-9
Previous My Little Pony: The Movie: The Junior Novel
Next My Little Pony: Equestria Girls: A Friendship to Remember
See also
AllusionsLittle, Brown and CompanyHachette Book Group

My Little Pony: Ponyville Mysteries: Riddle of the Rusty Horseshoe by "Penumbra Quill" (collective pen name of Michael Vogel and Nicole Dubuc) is the thirtieth book in a series of chapter books published by Little, Brown and Company and the third entry in the "Ponyville Mysteries" series.

In this book, the Cutie Mark Crusaders must face their deepest fears when the Olden Pony manifests in the real world.

Summary

Table of contents
Chapter titlePages
Prologue
Chapter One
Chapter Two
Chapter Three
Chapter Four
Chapter Five
Chapter Six
Chapter Seven
Chapter Eight
Chapter Nine
Chapter Ten
Chapter Eleven
Chapter Twelve
Chapter Thirteen
Chapter Fourteen
Chapter Fifteen
Chapter Sixteen
Epilogue

Lilymoon's first sleepover

The story begins with "The Pony" from the previous books moving through the bogle's nest in the Everfree Forest and getting as close as they can to the Livewood before alerting its patrol of timberwolves. As "The Pony" feels the magic pouring out of the Livewood, they think of a way to keep the Cutie Mark Crusaders from getting closer to the Livewood's secrets.

At Lilymoon's house, she and the Crusaders play games at Lilymoon's first slumber party. Lilymoon doesn't understand some of the games being played, so Apple Bloom suggests a different activity, and Lilymoon decides on telling ghost stories. Scootaloo notices Apple Bloom's overeagerness to have fun with Lilymoon and feels she is paying more attention to Lilymoon lately than her or Sweetie Belle. Just as Lilymoon starts to tell her story, Scootaloo interrupts, knowing that Sweetie Belle was still sensitive to scary stuff after their recent encounter with a timberwolf.

Scootaloo decides to tell the tale of the Olden Pony—a story that Sweetie Belle already knows—but Apple Bloom protests, saying Lilymoon wants to go first. The two fillies get into a heated argument, and Apple Bloom blurts out that the story of the Olden Pony gave Scootaloo nightmares the first time she heard it. Upset that Apple Bloom would reveal such a secret to Lilymoon, Scootaloo angrily leaves the room to get a snack in the kitchen.

Return of the Olden Pony

On her way to the kitchen, Scootaloo hears something whisper to her, and she dashes out the back door in terror and into Lilymoon's family greenhouse, knocking over a large potted plant in the process. The thing that whispered to Scootaloo is revealed to be Lilymoon's older sister Ambermoon. Scootaloo still doesn't trust Ambermoon after the werepony incident in the previous book was traced back to her.

After cleaning up the potted plant mess, Scootaloo asks why Ambermoon is following her around in the dark, and after some initial grumpiness, Ambermoon says she overheard her arguing with Apple Bloom and wanted to make sure she was okay. While getting a snack in the kitchen, Scootaloo hears another voice whispering to her and slowly getting louder. She races into the house foyer and sees the Olden Pony herself standing at the top of the stairs. As she moans about her rusty horseshoe, Scootaloo is overcome with fear and gallops out the front door toward home.

The next morning, Scootaloo is greeted by her aunts Holiday and Lofty. When asked why she returned home so suddenly from Lilymoon's sleepover, Scootaloo says she wasn't feeling well. Apple Bloom, Sweetie Belle, Lilymoon, and Ambermoon arrive to check up on her, and when Scootaloo claims to have seen the Olden Pony, her friends are skeptical. Dismayed that they don't believe her, Scootaloo declines their invitation to Sugarcube Corner and sets out to prove what she saw was real.

A haunting in Equestria

Later that day, Scootaloo goes to talk to Rainbow Dash for more information about the Olden Pony. Ambermoon follows her, feeling compelled to help out because of how much happier Lilymoon has been since befriending the Crusaders. When Scootaloo and Ambermoon find Rainbow Dash, she is busy getting ready to go to Canterlot for the Wonderbolts' Royal Flyfest. Scootaloo asks her about the Olden Pony, and Rainbow says there isn't anything more to the story than what she already knows. Rainbow notices that Scootaloo isn't with Apple Bloom and Sweetie Belle, and Scootaloo says things have been weird between them lately. In an effort to fix this, Rainbow invites all of them to the Royal Flyfest as her special guests.

The next day, Rainbow Dash, the Crusaders, Lilymoon, and Ambermoon take the Friendship Express train to Canterlot. There is still some tension between Scootaloo and Apple Bloom about what happened at the sleepover, but they focus on looking forward to seeing the Wonderbolts perform. All of a sudden, Scootaloo hears the Olden Pony's raspy voice again. This time, Ambermoon also hears her, but she still can't see her. Completely unaware of the Olden Pony's presence, Sweetie Belle tells her friends to put their recent disagreements aside and have fun at the show, and the others agree.

During the Royal Flyfest, the Wonderbolts begin their performance, and Scootaloo decides to wait until after the show to tell her friends about what happened on the train. However, the Olden Pony reappears in the stands, and this time, Apple Bloom, Sweetie Belle, Lilymoon, and Ambermoon can all clearly see her. When the Olden Pony moans about her rusty horseshoe again, Scootaloo takes an old horseshoe out of her saddlebag and throws it at her. But she completely ignores it and continues to stalk Scootaloo and her friends, even able to physically touch them.

The Crusaders and Moon sisters head to the announcer's booth and tell him to stop the show for everyone's safety. But before they can tell the announcer about the Olden Pony, she appears behind him and pulls a lever to turn off all the stadium lights, causing ponies to scream in a confused panic.

Encounter on the train

On the train ride back to Ponyville, Rainbow Dash harshly scolds the Crusaders and their friends for ruining the Wonderbolts show. They try to convince her it was the Olden Pony's fault, but Rainbow refuses to believe them and says they're going to have a talk with their families later. After Rainbow leaves the train car, Apple Bloom apologizes to Scootaloo for not believing her about the Olden Pony and about what she said at the sleepover. Scootaloo also admits to being jealous that Apple Bloom has been spending so much time with Lilymoon lately. Apple Bloom assures her that they're always going to be best friends, and they reconcile.

However, as the train pulls into the Ponyville station, the ponies see the Olden Pony standing on the platform. Like before, they are the only ones who can see or hear her. After the train passengers get off, Scootaloo locks the Olden Pony out, and the ponies try to figure out why she's appeared and how to get rid of her. Scootaloo mentions that she first saw the Olden Pony at Lilymoon's house, and Lilymoon suggests going back there to retrace her steps. As the Olden Pony looks for a way inside the train, the ponies split up: Lilymoon and Ambermoon serve as decoys to distract the Olden Pony while the Cutie Mark Crusaders head to Lilymoon's house.

Flowers of fear

A short while later, the Crusaders and Moon sisters regroup at Lilymoon's house after giving the Olden Pony the slip. Scootaloo retraces her steps from when she saw the Olden Pony in the foyer to being in the kitchen with Ambermoon to when she was in the Moon family greenhouse. When she mentions knocking over a potted plant, Ambermoon identifies the plant as a fear fern, a magical plant that gives physical form to the biggest fear of whoever touches it and only they can see it.

As Apple Bloom wonders why she and the others can also see the Olden Pony, Lilymoon's aunt Eclipse enters with an explanation. She explains that Lilymoon's father Blue Moon has been breeding a powerful and contagious form of fear fern that spreads from pony to pony through its spores. Scootaloo realizes that she infected everypony she touched after coming into contact with the fear fern. Eclipse has a cure for the fear fern's effects, but there is only enough for five ponies, and dozens of ponies have been infected by now. In addition, if enough ponies believe in the same fear, it will eventually become a permanent part of their world.

Friendship is stronger than fear

The Crusaders and their friends race toward the Castle of Friendship to consult Twilight Sparkle, but Rainbow Dash intercepts them, raving about the Olden Pony terrorizing the town. Applejack and Fluttershy soon arrive, having not been infected by fear fern spores, and wonder what's going on. When the ponies try to tell them about the Olden Pony, Applejack thinks it's a prank and Fluttershy thinks they're delirious from fever. However, as soon as they touch the fillies, they get infected, and the Olden Pony becomes visible to them.

As the Olden Pony terrorizes ponies all over town, Ambermoon recalls her aunt Eclipse's words about her getting more powerful the more ponies fear her, and Scootaloo comes up with an idea. The Mane Six, Crusaders, and Moon sisters gather in the castle throne room, and the Crusaders explain the situation. Twilight expresses concern that Ponyville's recent troubles only started after Lilymoon and her family moved in. Scootaloo shares her idea with the others: welcoming the Olden Pony as their friend instead of pushing her away in fear. Some of the ponies are skeptical that such a plan would work, but Sweetie Belle reminds them that they promised to listen to them more after the werepony incident.

Later that evening, Scootaloo walks into the town square alone and calls the Olden Pony out. The Olden Pony appears, and the fear of dozens of ponies has made her completely solid. She demands her rusty horseshoe like before, and Scootaloo offers her friendship instead. In a coordinated effort with the rest of the town, ponies appear all around the Olden Pony and offer multiple horseshoes of different design, shape, and material. The Olden Pony is surprised that they aren't afraid of her and even more surprised when Scootaloo hugs her. Moved by their kindness, the Olden Pony vanishes into thin air.

Epilogue

The next day, ponies work together to clean up the mess caused by the Olden Pony's terror. At Sugarcube Corner, Rainbow Dash apologizes to Scootaloo for not believing her about the Olden Pony. To make up for it, she gives Scootaloo VIP tickets for her and her friends to attend the Cloudsdale Expo. Still concerned about the dangers that have been originating from Lilymoon's house, Twilight asks her and Ambermoon if she can talk with their family about the magic that they're practicing. Having gotten to know Ambermoon better, the Crusaders rethink their previous suspicions about her and wonder who's really behind all the weirdness they've faced lately.

Meanwhile, "The Pony" realizes the usefulness of fear ferns and decides to use it in their plans. They are annoyed that Princess Twilight is now involved, but they are confident that their plans will succeed.

Quotes

Lilymoon: I don't get it.
Scootaloo: What's to get? The floor is lava. Anything that's not the floor is safe. If you touch the floor, you're out.
Lilymoon: And this is really what other fillies do at sleepovers?
Scootaloo: Yeah. The good ones, anyway.
Lilymoon: I still don't get it.
Ambermoon: My room is right next to Lilymoon's. You four were keeping me up with all your carrying on.
Scootaloo: Oh. How much did you hear?
Ambermoon: Enough to know that this 'snack break' is just an excuse to get away from your friends for a while.
Scootaloo: It's no big deal.
Ambermoon: Of course not. You felt left out for the first time in your life. Did you expect me to give you a pep talk?
Scootaloo: So you just came out here to rub it in?
Ambermoon: No! I... was just making sure you were okay.
Holiday: Let me make Scootaloo some breakfast first, dear. Then you can give her the third degree.
Scootaloo: Last night you said you wanted to check on me. Now you want to help me. We don't even like each other! Why are you doing this?
Ambermoon: I can see how much Lilymoon likes hanging out with all of you. She seems... happier since she met you. It made me think... it might be nice to have a friend. So I'm trying to be friendly.
The Olden Pony: Where is it? WHERE IS MY RUSTY HORSESHOE?
Ambermoon: What was that?
Scootaloo: You heard it, too?
Ambermoon: Everypony on the train must have heard that!
Rainbow Dash: I don't even know where to begin. What were you thinking?
Scootaloo: We told you—
Rainbow Dash: Do not mention the Olden Pony.
Apple Bloom: Next time my best friend says that she sees a scary, old pony coming after her, I promise I'm going to believe her.
Sweetie Belle: That's good. Because as your other best friend, I want to tell you that there's a scary, old pony coming after us.
The Olden Pony: You can't run from me! I'll find you wherever you go!
Apple Bloom: When did you become such good friends with Ambermoon?
Scootaloo: I guess when she started being nice to me. She's actually kind of cool, once you spend time with her.
Eclipse: If enough ponies believe in the same fear... it becomes a permanent part of our world. The same way a strong friendship can create magic. In this case, a shared fright feeds strength to whatever is feared. Your Olden Pony just went from being a foal's ghost story to a real problem.
Filthy Rich: I'll give you as many bits as you want, just leave me alone!
The Olden Pony: I don't want bits. I want my rusty horseshoe!
Scootaloo: Spooky things aren't as scary when you understand them. And I think the Olden Pony just needs understanding and friendship. So I thought we could all welcome her as our new friend.
Rainbow Dash: That's it? That's your plan?
The Olden Pony: I... I... don't understand. You should be running from me!
Rainbow Dash: We don't run from our friends, silly!
The Olden Pony: You're... not afraid?
Scootaloo: Nope. We're just glad you're our friend.
The Olden Pony: Well. Thank you, dearie.