Horse bonding, grooming, and reviving - Red Dead Redemption 2

Learn about breaking, taming, bonding, feeding, reviving, and calling your horse in Red Dead Redemption 2.

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Players are going to spend a lot of time with their horses in Red Dead Redemption 2. Whether it’s out on the land exploring, or going from mission to mission, Arthur Morgan’s horse acts like a hub, and you don’t realize how valuable that hub is until it’s not nearby. Keeping your horse healthy, happy, and by your side is an essential part of Red Dead Redemption 2, and this guide will take you through all aspects of owning a horse and getting the most out of it.


Taming and breaking horses

Arthur Morgan can ride almost any horse he sees in the game, except for a few that belong to members of the Van der Linde gang. However, before a horse can be ridden, it must be broken and trained, especially if it’s wild. Approach a wild horse slowly and with nothing in your hands. Target the horse with L2/LT, then choose the option to Calm it. If it’s nervous, stop walking and wait for the option to Calm it to return. Slowly approach the horse and then Pat it when the option pops up, continuing to hold L2/LT to keep the interaction interface active. When the option to Mount the horse comes up, do so. Just be aware that a newly broken horse still has a wild side, so don’t go getting into a gunfight with it just yet.


Bonding with your horse

Once a horse is broken and it has allowed you to mount it, the next step is slowly building a bond between the two of you. Bonding with your horse means a more reliable performance from it. The benefits of bonding with your horse include:

  • You can call your horse from farther distances as you increase your bond with it.
  • Horses that you share a strong bond with will be harder to steal.
  • Bonding with a horse will increase its stamina and health, a massive advantage to Arthur.
  • Expect that your horse will be able to navigate rougher terrain and deeper water.

Increasing the bond between you and your horse is no easy or fast task. It happens naturally as you spend time together, but can be slightly expedited if you treat your horse right. Ways to increase your bond with your horse include:

  • Brushing your horse when it’s dirty (after Exit Pursued by a Bruised Ego).
  • Providing food to your horse when its hungry (from near it or even mounted).
  • Calming your animal down after something spooks it, such as a gunfight.
  • General use, such as riding and leading your horse if it isn’t too exhausted.

As you increase the bond between you and your horse from levels one to four, you’ll unlock the following bonus maneuvers:

  • Bonding 2: R1/RB + Square/X to Rear while stationary.
  • Bonding 3: R1/RB + X/A to Skid Turn or Skid Stop while moving.
  • Bonding 4: Hold Square/X to perform a Piaffe. While doing this press L3/Left Stick right or left to Drift.

Show your horse the love it deserves.
Show your horse the love it deserves.

Horse care and feeding

It’s important to keep your horse properly fed and clean. Cleaning is easy to do once you are through the Exit Pursued by a Bruised Ego mission where you’re given a brush. Just approach your horse and press L2/LT, then choose the option to Brush it. It only takes a few seconds and it pays off big in the long run.

Feeding your horse is a little more involved. The buttons are easy, only requiring you to press L2/LT and then Feed (or L1 while mounted and then selecting the food from the Horse menu), but when and what are a bit tricky. Overfeed your horse and it will gain weight. Underfeed your horse and people will talk about how thin and hungry it looks. A hungry horse also means its stamina and health are negatively impacted, and you don’t want that. It’s also important to ensure you’re feeding your horse the right foods, such as Oat Cakes, Apples, and Hay. If possible, avoid treat foods when feeding your horse, although it’s better to give it something instead of nothing.


Whistling for your horse

Press the directional pad up to whistle for your horse. This isn’t Roach from The Witcher 3, mind you. Your horse has a relatively short distance that it can be called from, although that distance is increased as you build a tighter bond with the animal. Your horse cannot be called if stabled (or dead). Your horse must be healthy and nearby for you to whistle and have it respond.


Hitching your horse

When you approach a building, there’s often a hitching post outside. Approach while mounted or leading, then use the option to Hitch your horse to the post. This can also be done at your gang’s camp, and even with random trees out in the wilderness if you setup a temporary camp. Hitching your horse to a post prevents it from being stolen.


How horses and stables work

You might want to keep more than one horse at a time. Maybe something fast for a big train robbery, and something heavy and with a large health pool for a big shootout. Luckily, stables allow you to store horses, buy horses, purchase provisions, buy and upgrade your gear (saddles, saddlebags, blankets, etc), and even customize their looks and change your horse’s name.

If you find a horse in the wild, you can tame it and mount it, then ride it to a stable and sell it for some cash, although you’d be shocked to find out how little this can make you. Still, it’s an option if you’re near some wild horses and heading in the direction of a stable anyway.


How saddles work

You can only own one saddle at a time in Red Dead Redemption 2, and therefore you can only have one main (saddled) horse at a time. That saddle can be removed or placed on any of your horses at any time. To remove the saddle from a horse, approach it and press L2/LT, then press up on the directional pad. To saddle a horse, you must have the saddle in your hands, but the button inputs are the same as removing the saddle.

Many different types of horses are available in Red Dead Redemption 2.
Many different types of horses are available in Red Dead Redemption 2.

If your horse dies a long way from camp, find your way back to camp (assuming you can’t revive it) and have a sleep (presumably because you’re mourning). When you wake your saddle should be in camp. Now you just need to find another horse, and you can’t saddle one belonging to other members of the Van der Linde gang.


How to revive your horse

If you’re like me, and you probably are, you tend to take risks while on your horse. The world in Red Dead Redemption 2 is rough, and you can find ledges and cliffs after you’ve already jumped off them. If this happens, your horse is likely going to be severely injured and near death. The only way to restore it from this point is by using Horse Reviver. Early in the game you may not have this item, so be sure to make it a priority to buy three bottles from the general store when you’re there. If your horse is gravely injured, use the Horse Reviver to get it back in action, but head back to camp and treat it better, you thoughtless outlaw, you.


Horse items and weapons

Arthur Morgan can only care so many things on him, which is another reason your horse is very important. Often, you’ll have weapons stored on your horse, and you can’t retrieve them from great distances. If you bring up the Weapon Wheel near your horse, you’ll be able to select Longarm weapons and equip them to Arthur. The same applies as you’re riding your horse. If, however, you bring up your Weapon Wheel while you’re too far from your horse, you’ll get a Weapon Wheel that includes only what Arthur is carrying on him, and you won’t have access to many of your Longarm guns. The number of times I’ve dismounted my horse only to realize I don’t have the proper weapon for hunting an animal is ridiculous. Luckily, my horse and I have a strong bond, so I can call her from further distances.


We're going deep into the world of Arthur Morgan in every way imaginable. To read more in-depth guides now that you have a full understanding of horses, visit our Red Dead Redemption 2 walkthrough and guide.

Managing Editor

Bill, who is also known as Rumpo, is a lifelong gamer and Toronto Maple Leafs fan. He is known for his guide writing and, unsettlingly enough, enjoys grinding out in-depth collectible articles. Tweet him @RumpoPlays if you have a question or comment about one of his guides.