In the old West, a reliable horse could mean the difference between life and death. They served as a means of transportation, work, and companionship. In Red Dead Redemption 2, in both the Story and especially Online mode, this aspect of life is highly emphasized.

Having a good, reliable horse is of paramount importance in RDR2. Not only is the map absolutely massive and time-consuming to traverse, but it’s fraught with danger. The Murfree’s Brood Gang, poisonous snakes, bears, and alligators are just some of the dangers that await Arthur Morgan as he traverses the frontier.

As such, it’s important that you have a decent mount to get around on. On top of that, about 95% of the Story missions involve some sort of chase, whether you’re the chaser or the chasee. A fast horse can make the difference in getting away from the Lawmen hunting you down.

Bonding with a chosen horse will gradually increase its Bond level with you, at a maximum of 4 levels. As well as gaining the ability to perform tricks such as skidding and rearing, bonding with a horse will also help to improve its stamina, performance, and handling. Of course, you’ll also need to groom and feed your horse as well.

All horse breeds have a base stat pool that can be improved to a certain limit by bonding and caring for the horse. However, some horses will naturally have much higher stats than others. Each horse’s stat limit is different, usually coinciding with the rarity of the steed. A Tennesee Walker will never be as good as a White Arabian, so keep that in mind when choosing your breed.

There are a variety of different provisions and foods that your horse can be given to eat, such as Oat Cakes, Carrots, and Hay. Keeping your horse well fed will make sure that it can be used to its full capacity each day.

On top of bonding and horse care, a horse’s stats can also be improved in other ways. Buying better tack from the Stables can decrease a horse’s stamina and health drain rate. A number of unique saddles with improved stats can be crafted through the Trapper by selling him the pelts of animals.

The Alligator Ranch Cutter Saddle, for example, can be crafted after selling a Perfect quality Alligator hide to the Trapper.

It’s important to remember that you can only have one saddle and one primary horse at any given time. If you wish to change horses, either change the saddle to the horse you’d wish to be your primary, or saddle up the desired horse at the Stables. Only 3 horses may be stabled at any given moment, with a fourth primary horse, so choose wisely!

In addition to the plethora of unique saddle color combinations, a horse’s mane and tail may also be styled. A variety of different styles can also be chosen from, such as Dreadlocks and Braids, and there are 17 colors that the horse’s mane and tail can be dyed.

Remember, horses are one of your greatest commodities throughout the game, so be sure to treat them kindly!