Earth ponies were the original ponies to be featured in the My Little Pony toy line. According to Lauren Faust, Earth ponies have a special connection to nature, animals, and plants. Though they lack the ability to consciously cast spells like unicorns or to fly and walk on clouds like Pegasi, their connection to nature makes them "just as necessary" as and "perhaps more important" than the other ponies.
In the chapter book Twilight Sparkle and the Crystal Heart Spell, it is written that Twilight Sparkle, from the moment she becomes an Alicorn in the episode Magical Mystery Cure, "was now able to harness the magical powers of the Unicorns, the flight abilities of the Pegasi, and the strength of a good, true heart of an Earth Pony."
Both Earth ponies from the main cast are connected to farming: Pinkie tells the Cutie Mark Crusaders she used to be a rock farmer along with the rest of her immediate family in The Cutie Mark Chronicles, and Applejack lives and works on a farm. The Apple family maintains apple orchards in Ponyville and Appleloosa, and many Earth ponies work to plow and sow the fields in Winter Wrap Up. Earth ponies also do most of the manual labor, such as scoring ice and clearing snow. In other episodes, Earth ponies are shown pulling rickshaws, carriages, and even trains, suggesting natural physical ability. In more extreme cases, Earth pony characters are shown accomplishing remarkable physical feats such as pulling entire houses across the landscape or easily breaking through barricades, both of which are shown in Hearts and Hooves Day. Their talent for animal care is less prominently featured, though Applejack drives cattle in Applebuck Season, and keeps pigs in her barn. Fluttershy, a Pegasus pony, is a notable exception, as she has her own special bond to the Earth, and she spends most of her time taking care of animals. Fluttershy was originally conceived by Lauren Faust as an Earth pony, which could explain this exception.However, not all Earth ponies are farmers. Earth ponies work in a variety of professions, including many prestigious or influential ones: Pinkie and the Cakes are pastry chefs, Hoity Toity is a fashion mogul, Photo Finish is a celebrity and photographer, Sapphire Shores is a pop singer, Filthy Rich is a successful businessman, Octavia Melody is a cellist who has played for at least two formal parties, Cheerilee is a school teacher, Nurse Redheart is a nurse, and the spa ponies work at a classy spa.
Earth ponies posses a diverse range of talents and capabilities, as previously mentioned. One recurring trait, however, is their physical prowess. Physically very powerful, some Earth ponies are capable of performing incredible feats of strength with little or no visible strain and enjoying long-lasting stamina as well. Rainbow Dash, a noted Pegasus athlete, has been shown to be able to keep up with Applejack when racing on the ground but incapable of overtaking Ms. Peachbottom at all even when flying at low altitude. Other notable examples of Earth pony strength include:
- Applejack stopping a runaway carriage full of ponies in The Mysterious Mare Do Well
- Big McIntosh pulling a house and several bulls in Hearts and Hooves Day
- Maud Pie hurling a large boulder over a great distance and breaking apart another large boulder with her bare hooves in the titular episode
Applejack and Pinkie Pie have both been seen using their tails as if they were prehensile fifth limbs. This ability, also demonstrated by Fluttershy, allows them to engage in fine manipulation such as controlling a lasso or operating a camera. Pinkie has demonstrated other tail-based special abilities, but these appear to be unique to her alone.
In addition, several Earth ponies have been seen displaying an excellent sense of balance, stacking and coordinating several objects on top of one another without difficulty.
Near the end of the My Little Pony: Make Your Mark special, the Earth ponies gain the magical ability to create and grow plants by placing their hooves on the ground. Their hooves glow a bright green when they invoke this magic.
The two-part season three premiere introduces Crystal Ponies, who live in the Crystal Empire. Many of them resemble Earth ponies but have gradient manes and tails; at the end of the premiere, they become slightly translucent.
Earth ponies are seen all over Equestria. According to Twilight Sparkle in Winter Wrap Up, they are the founders of Ponyville. This is reaffirmed in Family Appreciation Day, when Granny Smith shares the story with Apple Bloom's class of how she and her family established the first agricultural settlement on land that what would ultimately become Ponyville. Earth ponies make up a majority of the residents of Ponyville, along with Appleloosa, where settler Earth ponies live, and in Manehattan, where high society Earth ponies, such as Applejack's Aunt and Uncle Orange, reside. However, because of Earth ponies' as well as unicorns' lack of the ability to fly or walk on clouds, Cloudsdale does not regularly host them on most occasions besides one exception in Sonic Rainboom when Twilight employs a spell to grant them with such abilities.
- Lauren Faust discussing Earth ponies. DeviantArt (2011-03-03). Retrieved on 2011 September 1.