Horses played very important roles in the history of civilization. They are also some of the most fragile, disastrously constructed animals ever to exist. They're notoriously difficult to animate, and also so ubiquitous in many settings and genres that people had no choice but to include them. Video games are no exception.
Some people use video games as a way to vicariously experience something they otherwise wouldn't have the opportunity for. Have you ever wanted to go horseback riding? Look no further than some of these games!
10 The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
Listen, no one thinks that Skyrim has the best horse physics. If you can even call the way your trusty steed interacts with the world physics, so far removed are they from real-world logic. No, instead we just think it's a blast to ride your horse with its apparently magnetic feet literally up the side of a mountain.
Is this just horses evolved in Tamriel? What natural predators did they have that required them to scale sheer cliffs at a moment's notice? So many questions we'll never know the answer to.
9 Barbie Horse Adventures: Mystery Ride
No, we aren't kidding. Okay, so Barbie Horse Adventures doesn't hold up to games of today's standards, but at the time of it's release in 2004, the horseback riding was shockingly realistic. This was the first entry into the Barbie Horse Adventures series that used 3D graphics and it made interacting with and riding your horse pal that much more compelling.
You're tasked with helping Barbie track down a stolen horse before it's meant to appear in a championship show. Keep in mind this is a game for children, so the puzzles and mystery probably aren't suitably engrossing for all gamers, but it's more than satisfactory for its target audience.
8 Battlefield 1
The horses in Battlefield 1 aren't the eminently breakable, skittish creatures we have in the real world. They might share a form with our familiar horse, but Battlefield's horses are something else entirely. Some unstoppable demon, perhaps, bound to your service through the tenuous chains of video game code.
They are nigh unkillable, able to take round after round of gunfire and survive close-quarters grenade explosions. They charge fearlessly and furiously through the world map, often running down players that have just picked off their rider as though in revenge. Battlefield's horses are by no means the most realistic in games, but they're a whole lot of fun to ride.
7 Red Dead Redemption
There's been much said about the sprawling world and emotionally resonant story of Red Dead Redemption 2, but before that game took its first trembling trot, the original Red Dead Redemption was redefining what a game set in the Wild West looks like. More than perhaps any other genre, horses are iconic staples of Western stories.
Rockstar couldn't have made Red Dead without horses and so they delivered. Not only can you own and ride a horse of your very own, but you can also lasso and break wild horses or even steal horses from ranchers minding their own business. You're an outlaw after all, so what's a little horse theft on top of everything else?
6 The Last of Us
The Last of Us doesn't opt for the broader, mechanically interesting route of allowing players to catch and tame their own horses. Instead, it gives the Joel and Ellie duo one horse, which Ellie names Callus, and makes you care about him. Callus is given to the pair by Tommy so Joel and Ellie can make their way to the University of Eastern Colorado, still searching for the Fireflies.
Then, when Joel is injured, he becomes Ellie's constant companion in her desperate attempts to keep her and Joel alive through the winter. He's a loyal companion to the very end—an end which comes at the hands of the Cannibals in Silver Lake.
5 The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
Geralt's horse in The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is named Roach. That might seem a bit rude, but it's a reference to a kind of fish rather than the pest. In fact, in the original Polish, the name is even given a diminutive ending, more closely translating as "Roachie." So clearly this is another horse you're meant to get attached to through the course of the game.
And Geralt is even able to get his horse certain equipment upgrades, like saddles and blinders. It is a little weird, however, that it's possible to get a completely different horse (a black thoroughbred stallion) and Geralt...just names the new horse Roach also.
4 The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
There's so much to do and see in Breath of the Wild, and so many ways to move from place to place (like Link's much-praised "climb anything" mechanic) that horses almost take a back seat. But they are incredibly satisfying to tame and ride.
They're pleasantly chunky in the game's art style and it's nice to visit a stable and see all the equine friends you've collected. The horses sometimes even come in fun colors, like blue! And if that isn't enough, if you're lucky you might stumble across a Giant Horse and, well, what more can we say about that?
3 Assassin's Creed Odyssey
Near the beginning of the game, you'll visit the stables at Markos' vineyard and are instructed to pick one of three horses. This seems like an important decision, but despite the descriptions unique to each horse, they function more or less identically in the game. It mostly comes down to choosing your favorite color, and even that you can change.
But regardless of your pointless choices, this horse is going to be your best friend. The Ancient Greek world is massive and aside from your ship, Phobos is going to be your primary means of transportation.
2 Shadow of the Colossus
Agro is your only companion in the arduous, lonely hunt for the colossi. Controlling her isn't always an easy proposition. When riding Agro, what you're really doing is controlling Wander, who's in turn controlling the horse's reins. So it lacks a degree of control you get from most video game horses, which respond like an extension of the main character's body.
But you trade in perfect control for a certain natural fluidity of movement that makes Agro feel more alive, more like a friend than a furry motorcycle. Even the way the camera works when riding her makes everything cinematic and memorable.
1 Red Dead Redemption 2
If you're a die-hard equestrian, there probably aren't many better games for you that Red Dead Redemption 2. It does a lot of the same things right as it's predecessor, but Rockstar's western sequel is committed to realism in just about every aspect of the game. This, of course, extends to its many horses. So much attention was clearly paid to the horses' anatomy, their movement, even the rhythm of their hoofbeats in order to make Arthur's companions come to life.
Plus, you can interact with them beyond just riding to the next waypoint. The new horse bonding system allows you to feed, clean, and show affection to your horse. Building this bond of trust broadens a given horse's move set, making them more useful partners. You've never wanted to make friends with a horse more.