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Zelda Breath of the Wild guide: Everything you need to know about horses (like how to kill and revive them)

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It was the horse’s fault!

Breath of the Wild continues a longstanding Legend of Zelda tradition: putting Link on horseback. Much of Link’s equestrian pursuits are new and different, too, and in this guide, we’ll teach you what you need to know. That includes everything from taming to saving, customizing, where to look for some of the game’s best steeds — and maybe accidentally killing one with fire (a little).

How to tame horses

Horses are skittish, so you need to approach them slowly and silently.

For many horses, it’s enough to press the left thumbstick, crouch and sneak up behind them. For special steeds like the Giant Horse and the white stallion (more on her below), you may need to drink an elixir or eat a meal that temporarily increases your stealth. If you’re having trouble catching a horse, remember that quieter and slower is better.

Once you’re on, you’ll spend your next several minutes convincing the wild horse to love you. Every time the horse starts going somewhere you don’t want it to go, press L to pat it on the neck and soothe it. If your horse accepts the comfort, you’ll see a bunch of hearts (presumably a Hylian love dust hidden underneath horses’ manes).

You can also feed your horse apples, which helps with taming and is also adorable.

What you should look for in a horse

Stamina, stamina, stamina

Horses have four characteristics:

  • Strength, which you can think of as horsepower (so sorry) for horseback battles
  • Speed, which determines how fast it goes (crazy, right?)
  • Stamina, which determines how many times you can press A to make your horse go faster (more is better)
  • Temperament, which tells you whether it’s docile or will always have a mind of its own (which isn’t really a problem, honestly)

Of the four, stamina is the most useful, if only because it’s the most applicable.

Here’s the thing: Horses are a faster method of travel than hoofing it (#sorrynotsorry) on foot. That is undeniably true, and yet when you’re not directly in control of your movement, riding a horse feels (admittedly, weirdly) kind of like you’re going slow.

Something about being on horseback makes us want to mash on A and go faster all the time. The more you can whip your reins and make the horse go faster, the faster you can get anywhere. And it gives you something to do while you’re along for the ride. Stamina is what governs the spurs at the bottom of the screen when you’re riding a horse. The higher the stamina rating, the more horsepower (yep) you’ll have.

Now, all of that said, there’s one more thing you can totally look for: pretty colors and patterns. There’s nothing wrong with seeking out pretty horses. Feel free to approach the coolest-looking horse in the pack. Just keep in mind that, practically speaking, the three characteristics above have more of a tangible benefit than spots on a butt.

How to save a horse

If you find a horse that you like, mount it and ride to a stable — ride being the operative word there. If you warp, you’ll leave your horse behind.

Approach the stable’s front counter, hold ZL to target the owner and talk. For 20 rupees (cheap!), you can save and name your horse — and you’ll get reins and a bridle, too.

How to kill a horse

Rudy, we hardly knew ye

Yes, sadly, it can happen. Yes, sadly, we learned the hard way. This, sadly, was a special horse. Now, sadly, she is gone.

Reviving your horse

If your horse dies, don’t worry. In southern Hyrule, there’s a special fairy fountain that specializes in resurrecting horses — including the horse we lost above. Just visit the horse god Malanya.

Riding your horse: roads

This may pop up in a loading screen from time to time, but it’s worth reiterating here: Your horses know and follow roads. Get on, ride onto a road, and you don’t have to press a button until you want to leave the road. Your horse will follow it as far as it leads.

Let your horse do the driving while you look around and identify shiny things to investigate. Hop off and prosper.

Moving your horse: the sidestep

Handy as your horse may be, it just won’t want to move in some places. This is where the sidestep becomes your best friend. Hold ZL, and the camera locks behind you and your steed, allowing you to move side-to-side (and even backward and forward). It sure looks goofy, but if you ever get stuck, this will be helpful.

How to customize your horse

You can customize your horse at some (but not all) stables. On the side of the stable, you’ll find a character tending to a few horses of their own. Approach on horseback, hold ZL to focus on them, and press A to initiate horse customization.

Check out the gallery above to see some of your customization options for your horse’s bridle, mane and saddle.

What are the best horses?

What makes a good horse? High stats, mostly.

At the beginning of Breath of the Wild, the best you’ll likely be able to find is a horse with relatively high stamina — four spurs is the best we’ve found. As you make your way across Hyrule, though, you’ll find more wild horses grazing in Hylian fields. Make it a point to stop, mount and test them. A good horse is a great asset.

There are a couple of special horses you can get, too. We cover the Giant Horse in its own guide. There’s also a side quest dedicated to finding a great horse, too. Let’s get into that now.

The Royal White Stallion side quest

When you arrive at Outskirt Stable, you’ll meet a man called Toffa. Speak to him, and he’ll tell you the story of the white stallion — and give you the Royal White Stallion side quest.

From Outskirt Stable, take the road north, turning left at the first intersection. Cross Manhala Bridge and follow the road right, around and up a hill. Dismount and look around. The wild white stallion is in this area. (Browse the gallery above for maps that show you the way.)

If you haven't upgraded your stamina, you won’t be able to catch the white stallion. Also, even though all horses are skittish in Breath of the Wild, this one is terrified of everyone. She’ll bolt at the first sign of company. To sneak up on her, we ate and drank stamina-boosting food and elixirs.

You’ll need stamina upgrades to calm the white stallion, too. You know that thing you do when you get on a while horse, where you mash on L to calm them down? That takes an extra long time with the white stallion, and if you don’t have stamina upgrades (we had four when we finally tamed her), she’ll buck you right off.

When you’ve caught her, return to Outskirt Stable, register and name your horse, and speak to Toffa again. Not only will you have a horse with high stamina, but you’ll also receive the royal bridle and the royal saddle, both of which you can see above in the customization section’s gallery.