Horses are extremely important in Red Dead Redemption 2. Not only will you likely spend just as much, if not more, time on your horse than compared to on-foot, but they are living, breathing creatures in the game world that must be taken care of carefully.
No matter how much time you spend with a horse, bonding with it, and upgrading everything, if it dies then it’s gone forever if you can’t revive it. I’ll never forget when I lost Bullseye on a mission that went bad.
How To Bond With Your Horse Quickly
If you’re not too far away, you can press up on your d-pad to whistle and call for your horse.
The more you ride your horse and spend time with it, the higher your bond level will go. The higher your bond level is, the higher your horse’s health and stamina will be. Plus, you’ll unlock new abilities with your horse as the bond level increases.
Once you’ve got a horse that’s saddled up, there are six main ways to keep your horse happy and increase your bond with it:
- Feed your horse: Feeding your horse hay, carrots, and other items is a sure-fire way to heal it in the heat of battle (hold L1/LB then cycle to horse items) but when you’re on the ground you can hold L2/LT and select “feed” for some casual eating, which is great for bonding too.
- Brush your horse: While standing next to your horse, hold L2/LT and select “brush” to clean it off. Keeping your horse clean is important for not only bonding, but a dirty horse suffers from lower stamina as well.
- Pat your horse: Finally, when on the ground you can hold L2/LT and select “pat” to give your good little horsie a loving pat on the side of the head to soothe it and build your bond.
- Ride your horse: Spending time on your horse, galloping around and traveling slowly increases your bond over time.
- Ease your horse: While out riding your horse may get upset, start bucking, or grunting with anxiety. Press L3/LS to soothe it and ease it with some kind “it’s okay there boyyyy” from Arthur’s soothing deep voice.
- Protect your horse: Similarly, steer clear of dangerous areas and predators to decrease the chances of your horse getting spooked.
Basically my routine is I go up to my horse or call it to me then I feed it, brush it, and pat it before riding. If you just do this every time, it’ll be at a much higher bond level in no time.
How To Get New Horses
There are two main ways to get new horse in Red Dead Redemption 2.
The most obvious way is to buy them from stables that you can find in towns or peppered along roads. Typically these horses are not cheap and generally we wouldn’t recommend buying a horse unless you’re in desperate need of one or one of the horses up for sale has amazing stats.
The other way to get a horse is to just steal it. You’ll find horses all over town, on roads, in the wild, and with bandits that can be taken as your own. There is a bit of work to be done in terms of easing it and getting it to bond with you, but you can totally do it. Or, after killing someone, you could always hop on their horse and ride it into town to stable it as a backup or sell it.
How To Retrieve Your Horse
If you get separated from your horse you either have to whistle for it and hope you’re close enough or go to the nearest stable and retrieve it. Using some video game magic, it will teleport to the stable you’re at for free.
How To Customize Your Horse
Finally, there’s also horse customization in Red Dead Redemption 2. It’s extremely thorough and feels reminiscent of the vehicle customization options you’re probably familiar with from the Grand Theft Auto series.
To customize your horse all you have to do is find one of the many stables and go inside just like you would if you wanted to buy a hose.
Customization options on horses are broken down into two types: cosmetic and functional. For example, things like the length and color of your horse’s mane and tail are purely cosmetic customization options. But change out the stirrups can actually increase speed and stamina and upgrading to larger saddlebags will expand the inventory.
That’s it for the basics of RDR2‘s horses. Be sure to check out our other Red Dead Redemption 2 guides here on GameSkinny!