The Horse is the primary and most common mode of transportation in the American West at the time of Red Dead Revolver, Red Dead Redemption and Red Dead Redemption II. Horses serve as mounts for the player in each game.
Red Dead Revolver
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Horses occasionally appear throughout Red Dead Revolver, often in background. Horseback riding features prominently in the mission "End of the Line", during which the player as Red Harlow must chase down a train commended by antagonist Javier Diego on a horseback; the player must jump back and forth between their mount and the moving train.
Red Dead Redemption
Horses are fast, adaptable, carry equipment and allow the rider to utilize weapons while riding. In-game horses come in a vast variety of breeds, appearances and colors; several of which have different pattern variations. Each breed has a different level of stamina, health, and speed.
Horses in Red Dead Redemption are very realistic in their movement and behavior, reacting to their environment and exhibiting self-preservation instincts. For example, a horse will generally refuse to jump off a cliff despite attempts by the player to guide it over. In addition, they will become panicked when riding too close to the edge of steep drops.
Horses may wander if they have not been tied and shy away from gunfire and animals, especially snakes, and will also get nervous and spooked by any potentially dangerous animals moving towards or that are near the player. Horses that have wandered away can be recalled to the player using the game's whistle function, which will prompt the horse to come to the player. If the horse does not trot to side, then it is likely that the horse has been killed or died. If the horse has died, continue on foot until finding another horse, or whistle after a time and a randomly selected horse will come up to you; if Marston has a horse deed, using the deed and whistling avoids the delay. (In multiplayer the same breed of horse will come).
The player can lasso enemies from horseback and either hogtie or drag them (which eventually results in death), gun down foes from horseback or even trample them with the mount. Horses, just like the characters, will each have unique personalities, temperaments and performance characteristics. Horses can be killed in combat, by animals, by the player, and from falls. If the player is stranded in the wilderness without a horse, they are presented with a situation to attain one.
All horses in the game have a certain level of stamina, represented by the blue bar to the left of the mini-map. Players must keep an eye on the stamina level - if it gets too low through constant spurring, the horse will slow, then become exhausted and buck the player off onto the ground. There are items that can be purchased from shops that will refill a horse's stamina (Apples and Horse Pills).
Horses can jump over obstacles such as fences, and will jump automatically if going fast enough.
Depending on where the player acquires a horse, there are varying levels of loyalty between them. Essentially, choosing to lasso a wild horse and break it in for riding, this horse may not be too kind on the idea and may buck the player off. However, after some time passes between the horse and Marston, the horse will learn to trust its rider, Apples are a good way to build trust. A loyal horse is much less likely to buck or rear, and whistling for it when it is stolen will cause it to buck the thief off and return to the player. Of course, the way players treat the horse will also play a role in their loyalty. Spurring a horse nearly to death, the horse may opt to buck off. The same goes for a horse that is forced to run for very long periods of time without any rest; a horse that is being ridden too hard will neigh in protest, which is a hint to ease off. Basically, don't allow horses to become jaded and they will have much more positive feelings towards you. The origins of horses also play a part in how much health the horse starts off with, i.e. a horse that was taken from a farm will have more health than a horse taken from a roaming gang.
The player's "trusty steed," established as Marston's own horse either by hitching it or by using a horse deed, has a brown saddle with small saddlebags and a blanket roll across the back. All other saddles in the game are black and lack the accessories. When a wild horse is broken, it will be shown without a bridle or saddle. However, once hitched, the horse will have Marston's brown saddle after the game is saved. All stolen or loaned horses will have a black saddle until hitched.
Horses also provide the physical power for stagecoaches, wagons and carts. Between one to four horses pull the weight of vehicles of various weights, and at various speeds; these horses seem to be randomly assigned, and the horses present do not seem to affect the speed of the vehicle; regardless, it is impossible to change the horses hitched to a vehicle manually. The player can drive these horses by occupying the driver's seat of the trailers. Horses can break free if the vehicle is damaged.
Domesticated vs. Wild
Wild horses react differently than domesticated horses, often gathering in small herds in the wilderness and running away from the player when approached. Some missions require the taming or breaking of a wild horse in order to domesticate them. The hunting statistics maintained in the game make a distinction between domesticated and wild horses, with the latter being required for the Unnatural Selection achievement/trophy while killing the former is counted as a crime.
Horses, or rather the ability to spawn a particular breed of horse, can be purchased from ranchers/stores, in the form of deeds. One star horse deeds cost $100 ($50 with high honor, or low honor at Thieves' Landing.), two star horse deeds cost $500 ($250 with high or low honor), and three star horse deeds for $1,500 ($750 with high or low honor). To use a horse deed, open the Satchel, select the deed, then whistle, and the horse will run to the player.
Note that although horse deeds are listed in the "Consumables" section of the satchel, a horse deed is never consumed and may be used over and over again. You aren't buying a horse so much as an unlimited supply of them.
Using the horse deed causes the game to autosave, even if the horse is still alive. This is an easy way to save without having to search for a place to camp. If the player is riding a horse already, using the deed will cause the old horse to run away as soon as the player dismounts it; if they have a loyal horse nearby they are not riding, it will run away when the deed is used.
Horses can also be stolen from hitching posts or by killing or forcibly dismounting the rider. The horse can then be ridden by the player. To make a stolen horse the player's "trusty steed," it must be tied to a hitching post.
An easy way to obtain a horse is to find a horse being ridden by an NPC, then simply push the horse (make sure your gun is put away) until the rider falls off. You can then mount the horse without any trouble. However, make sure that the rider is not a lawman, because then you will get a bounty. Another easy way is to find a hitched horse, and again, push the horse, and the horse will be unhitched. Again, you can mount the horse without any trouble. Sometimes, NPC's will get bucked off, or horses will be left standing after gunfights. The horses from these situations can be taken. Cart horses can also sometimes be found alive and taken after the cart is destroyed.
Wild horses can be captured and tamed. As with stolen horses, they must subsequently be hitched before becoming the player's trusty steed.
The easiest way to get a horse in many towns is to find the horse corral, if there is one, and take a horse. In places like MacFarland's Ranch, there are horse with bridles but not saddles, like wild horses the player has just broken. These can be taken without a bounty. Other places include Thieves Landing, Warthington Ranch, and several others.
- Main article: Horse Taming
The player is able to capture and tame wild horses for later use. Some settlements also offer the player the opportunity to tame horses as an activity.
Although the horses are strong in Red Dead Redemption, there are certain animals that you need to be aware of. Bears and Cougars can kill your horse if they get too close, as to try to knock you off and get to you. The majority of horses (with few exceptions) will die in a single hit from cougars and bears, so if you are in the Great Plains or Tall Trees, watch out for them.
- Main article: Horse Breeds
The different breeds of horses in the game are categorized by stars. One star horses are the worst, and are jaded, or sick. Two star horses are the most common to encounter in the world. One and two star horse deeds can be bought at any time. Each area has a 3-star horse breed: the American Standardbred in West Elizabeth, the Kentucky Saddler in New Austin, and the Hungarian Half-bred in Mexico. Each of these three horses must be broken before their deeds can be purchased.
- Infested Ardennais
- Lusitano Nag
- Jaded Tersk
- Cleveland Bay
- Dutch Warmblood
- Highland Chestnut
- Welsh Mountain
- Quarter Horse
- Painted Quarter Horse
- Tobiano Pinto
- Standardbred Pinto
- Painted Standardbred
- American Standardbred
- Kentucky Saddler
- Hungarian Half-bred
- Dark Horse (Requires low Honor)
- War Horse (DLC) (Cut content in multiplayer)
- Undead Horse (Undead Nightmare)
- War (Undead Nightmare)
- Famine (Undead Nightmare)
- Pestilence (Undead Nightmare)
- Death (Undead Nightmare)
- Unicorn (Undead Nightmare)
- Dead Horse (Cut content) (Can be seen dead in singleplayer)
In multiplayer, horses are unlocked by the player by reaching certain multiplayer ranks. Five horses can be unlocked:
- Lusitano Nag (Level 4)
- Turkmen (Level 8)
- Cleveland Bay (Level 22*)
- Hungarian Half-bred (Level 33*)
- American Standardbred (Level 40*)
- * After reaching Legend, the three noted breeds are unlocked at lower ranks. See the Multiplayer page for details.
Once unlocked, the horse can be set as the player's chosen mount in the Outfitter. This is equivalent to hitching a horse in single player. Horses that have not been unlocked can be stolen from other players or NPCs, but can not be made the player's "trusty steed" as in single player (whistling will always bring the mount chosen in the Outfitter).
Horses are basically the same as they were in Red Dead Redemption; however, when the player's horse is killed and the player whistles for another too soon an Undead Horse will appear. The Undead Horse cannot be killed without explosions, headshots, Fire Bottles or Holy Water.
Undead Horses have unlimited stamina but will not obey Marston until he is undead. When Marston becomes undead, all uninfected horses will do the same as undead horses did pre-Marston's infection and will not obey him. They are also one of the very few undead animals that do not attack living creatures.
Undead Horses can be found and obtained the same way their living counterparts were in Red Dead Redemption.
Red Dead Redemption II
While horses continue to be gamified in Red Dead Redemption II, their impact on the game and players has been expanded. The more players ride, groom, and feed their horse, the stronger their bond becomes. This is critical for the horse becoming more comfortable in precarious situations like shootouts and coming across predators. If the bond is weak, the horse may throw players off its back and flee from the threat, taking supplies and weapons with it. If a horse dies, the whole process needs to be started over again with another horse.
- Main article: Horse Breeds
- Black Chestnut Thoroughbred (Special Edition exclusive)
- Dappled Black Thoroughbred (Special Edition exclusive)
- War Horse (Pre-order bonus)
- A horse can be put over a dead animal that has yet to be skinned to skip the cutscene, instead of watching the animation. If the horse is positioned correctly over the animal while skinning, the animation won't play and the animal's properties will appear. This also works with looting from a dead person, but not with herbs or chests.
- It is possible to carefully drop from a ledge of a certain height (e.g. the roof of a building) and land mounted on the saddle of the horse, a stunt performed in many westerns. Despite many rumors and skeptics calling this a myth, it is confirmed do-able. The player can either jump or fall off a ledge naturally and land on their horse. This can easily be done by jumping over the balcony of the Armadillo saloon directly above a hitched horse. (only works in singleplayer)
- It's possible to use the sidetrack near railroads to travel faster the same way as using roads, though if the player comes too close to tracks its considered as "offroad" and the speed of the horse will drop rapidly.
- It is possible to make the horse's stamina last indefinitely while riding top speed by pressing the sprint button once every 3 gallops. Additionally, the pressing of the sprint button 2 times every 4 gallops decreases stamina very slowly.
- In the time period of this game, many modern colors had not been established and recognized. A bay was called red. A chestnut was called light brown. A buckskin was called either a dun or dark palomino. Grays were called white or off-white. (A gray has white coat and black skin, a white has pink skin).
- Sometimes, mainly in Mexico, a tame horse will just randomly appear in the wild
- Sometimes in horse herds, there may be horses with saddles, carts and even NPC's on them; while the former two could simply be excused as horses which have had their owners killed, the latter shows this to be a spawning bug. The player can lasso them normally. But when the player mounts up on them everything will disappear. It's impossible to ride the cart and the player will just walk through it as if it wasn't there. The NPCs don't talk nor respond to the player. Shooting at them will have no effect other than spooking the horse, though killing the horse will just make the NPC stand up and walk away.
- When standing under a ledge, for example under a large cliff, if the player whistles for the horse, it is possible for the horse to proceed to the player, and fall off the cliff dying instantly on impact, depending on the height of the cliff. The player must then find another horse, or use a horse deed, because the horse will be permanently lost for the player.
- When near a railroad track, it is possible for the player to whistle for their horse and have it run over by an oncoming train. This will cause the horse to explode in an unrealistic manner, causing the player to permanently lose their horse. A new horse must be found, or a horse deed can solve this problem.
- Sometimes if the player feeds their horse multiple servings of Horse Pills, it may buck the player off then run away. Whistling for it will not cause it to return. Instead, it will trot away from the player and will later die.
- Sometimes, while at MacFarlane's Ranch, a glitch may occur in which a horse will fly and then disappear.
- Sometimes, if the player hitches a horse while in front of it, the player will rapidly move back and forth inside the horse. This can easily be fixed just by aiming and moving.
- Occasionally, some horses may turn invisible.
- - If a player starts a multiplayer free roam session in Blackwater and whistles for their horse, there is significant chance that their currently saved single player horse will respond instead of their multiplayer unlocked horse. For example, a level 30 player could whistle for their Cleveland Bay, but instead the Kentucky Saddler they last used in single player will come. This glitch even extends to the War Horse. The bug seems to occur predominantly in Private Free Roam rather than Public, but once summoned the horse can sometimes transfer if the player changes between the two modes.
- - Occasionally, the Kentucky Saddler gained from Bonnie MacFarlane will change color and appear to be a different horse (Painted Standardbred is common). However, the "new" horse retains the muscle tone and performance of the Saddler so can be ignored. This most commonly occurs when presented with a horse on a mission (such as in Must a Saviour Die?) even if the player whistles for his own horse. (Unknown whether this occurs with other horses but suspected).
- The horses in Red Dead Redemption utilize the Euphoria engine to create realistic procedural animation, an engine also utilized by GTA IV and Star Wars: The Force Unleashed.
- Leave a horse on the railroad while a train is coming and the horse will be violently killed. (it will blow up in an unrealistic manner similar to that of the Dastardly achievement/trophy.)
- If your horse is nearby while you're riding shotgun on a wagon, it may follow the wagon from behind until you reach your destination.
- You can shoot your horse in the head while riding. This will of course kill it, but can result in some amusing ragdoll physics of the character as they fall off.
- If you bring your horse up to sprinting speed and enter dead eye, it can survive infinite shots to the head.
- The one-star horses are the ones with their ribs showing and no muscles can be seen. The two-star horses have slightly more muscle, and the three-star horses will have well-developed muscles and will look very healthy.
- Horses will, on very rare occasions, die instantly due to geometry bugs; the horse will simply drop down dead for no obvious reason.
- Marston will sometimes stroke the horse or adjust his saddle whilst standing still.
- John takes a great liking to horses, preferring them over the Automobile as a means of transport.
- John and Jack Marston both have an aversion to killing horses. After shooting a horse, John says "I can only blame my childhood for so long," and Jack says while skinning a horse, "Is this what I've become, a horse-killer?"
- NPCs may sometimes call their horses a name, such as "Abraham," "Annabelle," "Justice," or " Bessy."
- Shooting a horse's eye will not kill it, but rather the bullet will go through the eye of the horse.
- Several random encounters involve horses, including NPCs stealing the player's horse ("In Need of a Ride") or other NPC's horses ("Grand Theft Stallion").
- Many of the noises that the horses make are common film stock sound effects.
- NPC's can sometimes be heard shouting at their horse "Woah, Annabelle, woah!" or "Giddyup Annabelle."
- The player killing their own horse will result in an honor decrease unless they are wearing the bandanna.
- Although every horse saddle in the game comes with a holster for repeaters, they do not function as anything other then aesthetic decoration, and there is not a single occasion where anyone actually uses them.
- The only horses that can survive more than one attack from a cougar or bear (in the original game) are the Warhorse and Hungarian Half-Bred.
- The Three-star horses may occasionally appear outside of their confirmed area, such as a half-bred in West Elizabeth.
The taming and riding or killing of horses are included in the completion of the following five available achievements/trophies:
Kill every animal species in the game in any game mode.
Complete 20 story missions without switching to a new horse at a hitching post.