Horses are an essential part of your day-to-day life in Red Dead Redemption 2, acting not only as your primary means of getting around, but also as a kind of extension of yourself, with your mount carrying its own statistics, conditions and tack that need to be maintained and optimised as you go.
What you might be wondering though is how to get the best horse in Red Dead Redemption 2, and so we explain that, as well as lots of other handy horsy things like how to calm and break a horse, increase horse bonding level, find new horses and anything else you’ll need to know about Red Dead Redemption 2’s equestrian systems and mechanics.
On this page:
There are a couple of candidates for the best horse in Red Dead Redemption 2, depending on what exactly you’re after.
That’s because horses’ stats are spread across several categories – Health, Stamina, Speed, and Acceleration, all pretty self-explanatory – and none of them have perfect stats across the board. There’s also the quality of the horse’s handling to bear in mind too, which ranges in responsiveness, from low to high, between Heavy, Standard, Race, or Elite.
The best horses in Red Dead Redemption 2
The horses that we’ve found to have the highest stats across the board then – coupled with the best handling – are the two Arabian breed horses that are only available from specific stables, in Saint Denis or one of the Epilogue locations, after reaching Chapter 4 or Epilogue 1 respectively. There are also certain Missouri Fox Trotter or Turkoman breeds that are pretty great alternatives too, but again they’re not available until at least Chapter 4, and all of these will cost you a pretty penny to buy when you finally unlock them.
So, with none of these horses available in the wild or for free, and none of them are available until Chapter 4 onwards, what’s the best horse you can catch yourself, from any point in the game after the world opens up in Chapter 2?
The best horse you can get at the start of Red Dead Redemption 2
The best free horse in Red Dead Redemption 2 is the Arabian horse with a white coloured coat. It’s ever so slightly lower in health and stamina than the two Arabians mentioned above, but it’s still a superb option, and is available at just one location in the game: in the wild, up in the north-western part of the map.
Gamer Network’s Arekkz discribes just how exactly you can get it in the video above, but for posterity here’s what you need to do:
How to get the best free, early game horse in Red Dead Redemption 2
There are several ways you can get new horses in Red Dead Redemption 2: buying them, stealing them, or catching and breaking a wild one.
Buying and stealing are fairly self-explanatory. You can buy horses at stables (introduced to you as part of the Exit Pursued By a Bruised Ego mission early in Chapter 2) which are in all of the game’s major towns and easily found on your map.
You can steal horses that aren’t tied up, as long as they don’t already belong to one of Dutch’s gang members, or ‘find’ them from previous owners – usually from a random encounter with a stranger.
How to calm, break, and saddle your main horse
The third way is to catch a wild horse, which involves several stages.
First you need to approach it calmly. Walk at the slowest pace possible towards the horse, and hold L2 as you go, which focuses you on it.
Whilst doing this, you need to calm it to stop it spooking and running away. To do so, keep one eye on the white bar in the bottom right of the screen. This will sit at full, and then suddenly start to drop periodically. As soon as it starts to drop you need to press Square / X as prompted, to calm it and keep it from running.
Once you get right up to the horse, you’ll be in range for the Triangle / Y button prompt to Mount the horse, hopping up onto its back. This then starts another minigame of sorts, where you need to ‘break’ it.
To break a wild horse, you need to first push the Left Analog stick down (as in pull it towards you, not press/click it in for L3), as soon as you hop on.
Then, you need to quickly push it in the opposite direction to whatever direction the horse is trying to go. So if the horse turns left, you need to turn right. If it tries to go forwards you need to pull the stick back, and so on. After a short while, you’ll get a notification in the top left saying you’ve broken the horse, making it your own.
To make it your main horse however, you then need to saddle it. Simply hold a saddle in your hand from your inventory and then approach the chosen horse, and hold Up on the D-pad to put it on. Note that you can only ever have one saddle, as well, which means one main horse, even if you can technically own more.
Your old one, that you took the saddle off, should automatically spawn at a nearby stable after a little while, but if you’re worried about losing it you can bring it back to a stable manually by whistling for it, lassoing it and leading it, or getting close and pressing L2 to focus on it and then commanding it to Follow with the button prompt. Pop it in a stable for safekeeping.
Horse bonding is the other side of managing your ponies in Red Dead Redemption 2, signifying the relationship you have with your mount and dictating how your horse behaves and performs when you’re riding.
Red Dead Redemption 2 breaks this complex relationship between man and beast down into four tiers of Horse Bonding Level.
How to increase Horse Bonding Level
There are several key ways you can increase your Horse Bonding Level:
Horse Bonding Level rewards
As you increase in level, you’ll gain the following benefits.
There are also some additional manoeuvres you can pull off as you rise through the four Horse Bonding Levels.
Need more help?
If you’re looking for things to collect, there’s Dinosaur Bone locations, Dreamcatcher locations, Killer Clue Piece locations, as well as Jack Hall Gang Treasure Map locations and the Poisonous Trail Treasure Map locations.
Fancy something a little more involved? We can explain how to get perfect pelts, hides and skins as well as all Legendary Animal locations and Legendary Fish locations.
And if you’re after upgrades, there’s how to get Gold Bars fast, the best horse, the best Red Dead Redemption 2 weapons, satchel upgrades and camp upgrades.
Finally, a list of Red Dead Redemption 2 cheat codes and an idea of the Red Dead Online beta date. Not long now!
Finally, there are a handful of other useful things to bear in mind as a horse-owning cowboy: