With so many ways to travel, you may be wondering if a horse is just a cool way to experience the beautiful scenery. Is the humble horse redundant in a game where you can RIDE YOUR FREAKING SHIELD or PARAGLIDE THROUGH THE AIR? Let’s talk manes and mares…
When the developers said they were interested in breaking the conventions of the Zelda series, they weren’t kidding! Beyond the obvious differences from previous installments, there are all kinds of new elements – environmental features like the weather and temperature which affect Link, new abilities like climbing and shield surfing, and the hunting of wild animals. There are also everyday aspects of “living in the wild” such as foraging for fruits and roots, and cooking! (One feature notably missing here is Link needing to relieve himself – silently, obviously. It does make one wonder what Link’s farts would sound like – would they be silent yet expressive like everything else Link does? These are the questions that keep me up at night…). Anyway, the topic of this post is wild horse taming and riding. As just one very small part of the tapestry that is Breath of the Wild, you might expect this aspect of the game to be half-baked. Thankfully, horse taming, riding and the customisation of your horses is a diverting enterprise in its own right.
During my time with Breath of the Wild, I’ve learned there are two main ways to explore Hyrule: take the paths marked on the map where NPCs wander, or go off the path and make use of Link’s climbing and paragliding abilities to explore. Both are important in terms of discovering new landmarks and just general exploring. When you’re taking paths, horses are a great mode of travel. They move at speed and stick to the paths automatically. When encountering enemies, they can add an extra dimension – you can literally run them over, or use your bow and arrow to great effect. Link gets to be a cowboy in this role-playing sim.
Along paths, you come across various stables. These provide a place to rest, cook and board your horses. They are also important sources of rumours and information, and a welcome break from the mostly unpopulated plains and mountains. At some stables, you can customise your horses gear, hair colour and hair style as long as your horse likes you enough. Pro-tip: feed your horse a few apples, she’ll love you in no time!
A horse’s coat is the way to determine her stats – stamina, speed, strength. Spotted horses and those with mixed colours are easier to catch and tame, but they are weaker and slower. The horses that are one colour are much more difficult to catch and have better stats. When I say they’re difficult to catch though…wow, they’re very nervy mares, and when they’re in a herd, they can set each other off quite easily. Pro-tip: paraglide onto your desired pony! It’s much quicker and more effective than sneaking up on them.
Here are two of my fave horses – please note the French braid on Barbie and the flowers in Princess’ hair:
(There is a pure-pink mare I’m looking for, but she is proving to be elusive – if I do catch her I’ll name her Candy…)
So now to reveal the secret ulterior motive behind this post: game-begging. I need Zelda’s Equestrian Training in my life, Nintendo. I need to experience a serious love story between Princess Zelda and a farmboy called Link. Something like this, maybe…?