Horses

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Horses
Horse
Horse, from Ultima VII manual
Variants: Plough
Mountain
Steppes
Valorian
First appearance: Ultima I
Last appearance: Ultima IX (Sort of)

Horses are large fleet-footed mammals that are frequently employed as domesticated beasts of labor by humankind and as food sources by gargoyles. Native to a number of worlds, including Britannia, Serpent Isle and Earth, these generally docile creatures appear in Ultima I, II, III, IV, V, VI, VII and VII Part Two.

History[edit]

Age of Darkness[edit]

Horse from Ultima II manual

Riding horses were commonplace in the earliest days of Sosaria, and were frequently hired by travelers seeking to quicken their journeys across the often perilous wilds of the realm. While horse husbandry appeared to fall into a slight decline during the era of Exodus, canny adventurers could still locate and subdue riding steeds should they travel to the distant lands of Ambrosia, where herds of wild horses still roamed the grasslands (although these swift Ambrosian mounts would frequently require either powerful magic or hard-to-locate items to tame).

Age of Enlightenment[edit]

Eventually, however, with the end of the Age of Darkness, groomsmanship slowly reemerged as a profession, and horses were a common component of day to day Britannian life for much of its history - serving to plough fields, draw carriages and convey travelers for many centuries.

Age of Armageddon[edit]

The Horse Plague[edit]

Sometime during the catastrophic years of the Imbalance and Great Cataclysm, a far reaching and deadly plague affected all the equine species of Britannia, killing all horses throughout the realm. By the time of the Avatar's last journey through the realm, such poor creatures could often be found hanging outside of the boundaries of towns and cities. While a woman known as Cleo was arrested and imprisoned for the creation of this contagion, its exact origin and vectors of travel were never made clear.

Horse Breeds[edit]

Several distinct breeds are identifiable, plough horses, mountain horses, steppes horses, and the prominent Valorian steeds.

Valorian Steeds[edit]

This distinctive horse hail from the Valorian Isles. Trained Valorians make the best warhorses, and are often sought by knights.[1][2]


This article or section is about the Ultima Saga series of novels. The information within may not apply to Ultima V or other Ultima games.


Valorians are notorious for having quirks: some chew wood, necessitating special stabling; other work themselves into a frenzy if left alone, often requiring a smaller animal such as a dog to act as a stall companion; many bite or kick anyone who passes unaware.[3]

Lore[edit]

Horse3.gif
Whilst one may travel throughout much of the Realm afoot, there are alternate means of transport that make short journeys pass more quickly, and longer journeys feasible where once such voyages seemed unattainable. Common modes of travel include the use of horses and of sea-going vessels. Uncommon modes of travel are also rumoured to exist.
Horses - Riding horse back is faster than walking, and horses are cheap.
Most of thy Party's progress will be on foot. If thou art fortunate, thou couldst capture some of the wild horses that roam the plains. Travel on horseback is much faster than on foot.
Being both strong and swift, these companions of the trail are invaluable when time is of the essence and one's strength is at an end. The traveler should obtain a steed early in his adventuring. Occasionally, you may spy a majestic wild stallion roaming the broad plains, but catching and taming it is another thing.
This animal can be found in the wild or domesticated in the stables. Horses are most commonly used for rapid transportation from town to town or through the wilderness.

Notable examples[edit]

Smith the Horse

Trivia[edit]

  • In Ultima III, horses could not be left on any terrain other than grassland, though they could be ridden over most other types.
  • In the Ambrosia of Ultima III, horses could be "tamed" by stopping time, using either a powder or the Altair spell, and then mounted. Due to an in-game bug, this had the curious side-effect of duplicating any horse captured in this fashion (though the duplicate horse appeared as a grass tile while still frozen). In the PC version, mounting a horse while time is paused causes time to restart and the horse to immediately attack.
  • In Ultima V various stablekeepers such as Kurt, Kraw or Treanna describe differences between the various types of Britannian horses, identifying plough horses, mountain horses, steppes horses, and Valorian warhorses as distinct breeds.[4][5]
  • When the C64 port of Ultima VI was created, the limits of the system proved difficult to implement horse riding. As a result, horses were removed from the game, with the in game explanation that the raiding gargoyles had eaten them all (with exception of Smith).
  • Similar technical difficulties also resulted in the removal of horses in the NES port of Ultima V, although in this video game the explanation used was that the horse population had been decimated by hungry people (note that horse meat is considered disgusting food in English-speaking countries, but it's normal food anywhere else in the world).
  • In the SNES Port of Ultima VII, the Guardian will taunt the Avatar should they kill a horse, encouraging them to "Stop horsing around!"
  • One of the horses in the stables of Britain is called Mr. Ed. There is also another horse in the same stables who is called Wilbur.

See Also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. KrawUnderworld Dragon's Ultima IV TranscriptUltima IV. "stable, thoroughbreds".
  2. KurtUnderworld Dragon's Ultima IV TranscriptUltima IV. "breeds".
  3. Abbey, Lynn. The Forge of Virtue. Questar Fantasy: 1991. Page 21.
  4. KrawUnderworld Dragon's Ultima IV TranscriptUltima IV. "stable, thoroughbreds".
  5. KurtUnderworld Dragon's Ultima IV TranscriptUltima IV. "breeds".