Every cowboy needs a horse. In Red Dead Redemption 2, Arthur and his horse will practically be joined at the hip, so you’ll need to know the ins and outs of proper horse maintenance if you want to guarantee the health and well being of your trusty steed. From taming and breaking a horse, to feeding and bonding with one, there’s a lot that goes in to owning a horse in Red Dead Redemption 2. Follow the instructions in this guide, and you’ll practically be a horse whisperer in no time.

How to Tame & Break Horses

Before you can start equipping saddlery on your horse, you must first know how to tame the horse and break it if it is wild. This can be done with nearly any horse you come across in the game. The first step to taming a horse is approaching it calmly to gain its trust. While slowly walking up to a horse without holding anything in your hands, target the horse using the left trigger button then wait for the Calm prompt. While still holding LT/L2, select Pat, then Mount the horse when prompted to complete the process. 

Grooming and Feeding

Of course, horses need to be fed and groomed if they are to maintain their health. Once you are given a brush for your horse, go up to your horse (dismount if you were riding it) and select the Brush prompt in the interaction menu (LT/L2) to groom your horse and increase your bond.

Feeding your horse works similarly to brushing it in that you simply approach the horse and select the Feed option in the interaction menu. While it’s easy to hand your horse some apples every now and again, make sure not to overdo it. Your horse can gain and lose weight if fed too much or too little, and being on either end of the weight spectrum can negatively impact your horses health and performance. 

Reviving Horses

Speaking of overdoing it, keep in mind that your horse is capable of getting hurt, especially if you plan on doing any extreme maneuvers off of cliffs or if the horse falls from a high height. If your horse is badly hurt, you may need to administer a Horse Reviver potion, which can be purchased from the General Store in town. It’s always good to keep some of this concoction handy, so buy a couple extra bottles if you have the cash

Horse Bonding

Although you may have earned enough trust from a horse to mount it, that doesn’t mean the horse is completely docile or domesticated. You must form a bond with your horse to access its full potential. Strengthening your bond with your horse will improve its health, stamina, and performance. Sharing a strong bond with your horse allows you to call it from further away, and will also make it harder for thieves to try to steal your precious steed.

Various activities can help strengthen the bond between you and your horse in Red Dead Redemption 2. Think of all the things you could do that would make your horse happy and healthy. Feeding, brushing, and calming your horse will all contribute to making the two of you more connected. Don’t overwork your horse, either. Make sure to let it relax and recuperate after a long trip. While riding your horse regularly will naturally improve your bond, too much wear can also be bad for its health. 

Bonding also unlocks a series of special moves that you can perform while on horseback, such as rearing or drifting. Here’s what each Bonding level unlocks and how to use each maneuver:

  • Bonding 2: Rear while stationary (RB/R1 +X/Square) 
  • Bonding 3: Skid Turn or Skid Stop while moving (RB/R1 + A/X)
  • Bonding 4: Piaffe (Hold X/Square) or Drift (Piaffe + Left Analog Stick/L3 right or left)

Horse Stables

Throughout your journey in Red Dead Redemption 2, you’ll encounter many different types of horses, each with their own perks or benefits, and it can be difficult to settle for just one horse. Luckily, you can own multiple horses by keeping them at a stable. Stables also allow you to buy new horse saddlery and upgrades. This is also where you go to change your horses name and appearance to make them uniquely your own. Horses can also be sold to stables for a small lump of cash, but don’t expect this to replace your day job.

Horse Saddles

To ride your horse, you’ll need to equip it with a saddle. While you can technically have more than one horse, you only get one saddle, which means you will need to remove the saddle from whichever horse it’s equipped on if you want a to change to a different mount. Bring out the saddle and hold it in your hands, then press LT/L2 and up on the D-Pad to equip it to a horse. You can do the same to remove it. If your horse happens to die while it’s away from camp, return to camp and rest. The saddle will return to camp when you get up.

Calling Your Horse

To call your horse, simply press up on the D-Pad and it should come trotting to your location. Keep in mind that your horse can only travel so far at first, until you strengthen your bond to increase its travel distance when called. Make sure your horse is alive, healthy, and not confined to a stable before whistling for it. If you want to brush up on the horse controls in Red Dead Redemption 2, visit our Xbox One or PS4 control guide for details. 

Hitching a Ride

You’ll need to get into the habit of hitching your horse on posts or trees to ensure it stays put while you are away, otherwise you run the risk of your mount getting stolen. You aren’t the only outlaw in the game, after all. If you plan on leaving your horse anywhere for an extended bit of time, look for a nearby hitching post or tree to tie it up before leaving. To do this, approach a post or tree while riding or leading your horse, then select Hitch when prompted.

Keep these details in mind when you acquire your first horse in Red Dead Redemption 2, and you’ll find yourself with a fine equine collection in no time. Check out some of our other Red Dead Redemption 2 guides for more gameplay tips and tutorials.