Chapter 1:

How Different Games Implement Horses as Playable Elements

How Different Games Implement Horses as Playable Elements

Video games can feature horses but don’t explore ways to interact with them. They often focus on crafting grand adventures or deep stories while others lean more on the gameplay mechanics such as combat, puzzles, and strategy. Nevertheless, there are still a handful of games where horses are some of the most important elements.

Those games, however, don’t explore all aspects of caring for a horse. They handpick a few elements and make them the focus of a certain part of the game. Here are a few examples of how horses and the responsibilities of caring for one are handled by modern video games:

ZED RUN - Assets, breeding, trading, and racing

If you are a fan of Japan Racing Association events JRA racing at then you may have only enjoyed them as a spectator or a sports bettor. Horse racing is rarely featured in video games either because players are more fond of cars or because games with horses are more about exploration. ZED RUN, a blockchain-based game, emulates that sport while also giving players the role of the horse owner.

Every player in ZED RUN can buy horses on OpenSea or directly from owners through direct transactions. A ZED Horse can cost 0.1 Ethereum (ETH) at a minimum and the value can keep rising per bid. The owner can store these assets on their stable at ZED RUN’s website and schedule them for races on the blockchain.

They may also have these assets breed to generate a unique foal that will inherit traits from both parents and have them race or be traded. ZED RUN only focuses on the business side of horse ownership and the fast-paced side of horse racing. They don’t have to worry about grooming, feeding, or nursing like on real farms.

Mount & Blade: Bannerlord - For upgrading units and for trading

Mount & Blade: Bannerlord features horses as both mounts and assets for traders. Their breed also has a large impact on the roles they play in an army and their availability in the land of Calradia. Sumpter horses and mules are great for increasing cargo limits but keeping too many of them can slow down your party’s travel speed. You may instead buy hot-blooded horses or war mounts for soldiers to ride, therefore speeding up their march.

Other than helping with mobility, horses can also be assigned to units to upgrade footsoldiers into cavalry or mounted archers. These changes are permanent but a similar element can be done for your character and companions through equipment that can be toggled.

Besides using horses for caravan trading and warfare, there is no element of horse care in Bannerlord. Food is only consumed by soldiers according to the game’s mechanics as horses graze on wild grasses. On a similar note, horses are also implied to breed with the help of the party’s assigned scout but it’s not expressed as a major game mechanic.

Red Dead Redemption 2 - Pet, traveling companion, and trading

Red Dead Redemption 2 is one of the most successful titles at pleasing horse lovers. It allows players to feed, groom, and talk to their steed through Arthur Morgan. There are also many scenes and interactions where horses are depicted as close companions to the human characters.

While most games would assign horses’ nutrition as any wild grass, Red Dead Redemption 2 made it the players’ responsibility to purchase specific food. Options vary between oat cookies, hay, and vegetables like carrots or radishes. Grooming is as simple as repeatedly brushing the horse but you can also do this by taking them to deep rivers or paying a stable aid to clean them.

Stables also have various services such as trimming horse mane or tail braiding. You can also buy or make new saddles to find which ones are more comfortable for your current companion. Players may also change horses by buying and selling or taming wild ones. Breed affects their potential, the Thoroughbred and Arabian are the best but other breeds are just as fun to befriend.

Star Stable Online - Traveling companion, pet, and racing

Last on this list is the game that is most dedicated to the art of being an equestrian. Star Stable Online takes you to the land of Jorvik, an expansive region where every facility is designed for travelers on horseback. There are towns in separate locations full of facilities for horses like stables, feeding stations, and equestrian obstacle courses.

All shops in this world have items for both your avatar and your horse with variety expanded by new expansions on Star Stable Online. Many of them are holiday-themed costumes. Grooming and feeding your horse is necessary like in Red Dead Redemption 2 as their needs degrade as time passes. This happens in real-time so you will sometimes see your partner as dirty and hungry the next time you log in.

Star Stable Online already has a lot of features dedicated to horse ownership and riding but you can unlock more by becoming a paid member. The above features are all available for free-to-play accounts but paying for the subscription service will open new options. You can buy and raise more special breeds of horses as some of them are magical.

Just like ZED RUN, Star Stable Online features horse races but you are the jockey and you have to be a skilled rider to win the race. You need to master galloping and ways to conserve stamina or you could participate in steeplechase races if you unlock jumping. Unlike in JRA racing, there are no sports betting in this game as it is designed for adventure lovers.


Different games cater to various ways of appreciating horses or horse riding. Some focus on racing while others put more attention on caring for them as pets. In most cases, they serve as amazing travel companions for the hero to explore unknown lands. There are still special cases like ZED RUN which focus on ownership and racing, too. Just explore all video game titles that you can and see which of them show appreciation to horses in the same way as you would.