Thursday, February 10, 2000

My Lovely Horse

by Roz Barnes

Do you use horses in your games? As a longtime horse owner I'm amazed at how tractable 'gaming horses' seem to be - quite unlike real life. Those creatures that ferry you from A to B as uncomplainingly as a motorbike, are in reality as perverse and cussed as one of Jack Vance's fussiest creations.
The word reality is crucial here. What you see horses doing in films is not reality. They are trained to do things that normal horses wouldn't do or wouldn't tolerate. For instance, you often see someone hoisting an unconscious person onto the saddle in front of him and happily trotting off. Horses often become very hard to control if you do that. When the Byzantine cavalry needed to move the wounded off the battlefield, a specially placid type of horse was trained to do this because the cavalry horses, well trained as they were in other ways, wouldn't put up with it.
Aside from relishing this chance to point out where everyone gets it wrong, there's a more practical reason for pointing out these complications - they add drama or comedy, and storytelling thrives on the unexpected. I'm not a role-player, but I am a novel-writer (as well as a dedicated equestrian) and I can see several wasted opportunities.
Mostly, horses are trusting and willing to please, which is why people bothered to domesticate them. But all of them - from mustangs to farmers' cobs - are born with the same instincts. They go through many years of training to coax them to do what humans want reliably and calmly, but the instincts are always there, and will surface if the rider or handler is not in complete control, or puts them in a provocative situation. And this applies even to their basic training - fancy stuff like carrying an extra injured rider takes even longer, and doesn't always work.

Riding skill
If we are talking about ordinary people whose principal profession is something other than riding, we can compare their skill with that of car drivers - so some people will do it a lot better at it than others, some will be cautious, some brave, some dangerous to others, some aggressive, some will be speed demons, some will freeze when things go wrong, and some will be very bad at fine manoeuvring like parking. However, while cars are unquestioningly obedient at all times, horses aren't.
Riding is not just knowing where to kick or being well co-ordinated - it's also about how you react when you don't feel in control - for instance when the horse shies or does any of the behaviours listed later. What do you do to regain control? Do you start a fight (in which case beware - you may not win)? Do you lose your nerve so that you don't dare boss the horse around, letting it do what it wants? Many sensitive people (I imagine sorcerors, musicians and other 'indoors' types) feel very unsafe when something goes wrong. (On the other hand, they might love to abandon themselves to the power of the animal - which will cause mayhem for everybody else.)

Things you might find difficult to do
Many situations might interfere with a straightforward ride on a well mannered horse. I have graded the degree of difficulty from 'only a rather ineffectual, hesitant rider would lose control' (-2) to 'very skilled riders would lose control' (-10). (These figures are appropriate for a 3d6 system such as GURPS.)
But remember to increase the difficulty according to how hard the horse is to ride - that's when the fun really starts.
Going past something unfamiliar. Something new on an unfamiliar track - even something as 'natural' as a fallen log - will cause trouble. The horse will try to avoid going near it, or may even turn around and gallop back the way it came. Penalty is at least -2, but roll to find out how severe its reaction is. Also roll to see if rider was unseated and falls off.
Going somewhere new. If you're going down an unfamiliar track the horse will snort at trees and quiver at every rustle in the hedgerow, even though it has seen trees and heard rustles all its life. It may spook - modifier -4.
Breaking a habit. Horses are supreme creatures of habit. They learn very quickly, and that includes things you don't want them to learn. If you have always turned left at a particular path, you will find it hard to turn right - difficulty -4. If you have always galloped whenever you come to a hill, it will be very difficult to stop. Difficulty -6 because the horse will be excited.
Sudden noise or appearance of an object. Modifier at least -2, but depends on severity of fright, so roll to see how frightened the horse is. At a minimum, the horse may shy (skip sideways), which may unseat the rider. The more sudden the horse's movement, the more unseating it is. But a horse can be trained to stand still as cannons go off around it, provided the rider is not frightened also. A horse that has had a bad fright will turn and bolt, galloping madly to get away from the threatening object. Difficulty -10; a beginner becomes a helpless passenger; an experienced rider should roll to see how long it takes to stop. Some horses are incredibly stupid and may run full tilt into an object such as a tree, so roll to see if yours has a good sense of self-preservation.
If the horse is injured. A horse can ignore a lot of things if the rider has its attention sufficiently - for instance in a demanding situation such as a fight, the modifer from a blow of, say, a sword would be at least -8. Otherwise the horse will first attempt to flee, or, if it can't (or the rider stops it, or it has been trained to fight) it may attack. An injury caused in another situation such as wrenching a tendon or pulling a muscle, will make the horse stop and look very sorry for itself. It will have to be walked gently home, although only a competent person will be able to persuade it to move, and if it's a particularly dippy character it may think you are deliberately causing it pain (-4).
Blast from the past. Horses only have to be hurt once by something to fear it. There is a very small chance that a particular item or noise is their bete noir. Penalty is -10.
If you're lost. If you keep doubling back on your tracks, your horse will try to take charge. Horses have an excellent sense of direction and can always find their way home. If you are lost, you can drop the reins and the horse will take you back to civilisation, or at least to the next place that has other horses in it, friendly or otherwise.
If you are without some item of tack. Saddles help the rider stay on, and bridles give control. You can ride without either one, but it's hard. Modifier -6, and all difficulties caused by the horse's temperament will be more severe. Also, horses' spines are like razor blades so amorous activities will be out of the question.
An extra load. if asked to carry two people, or another load, the penalty is -6.
Supernatural happenings. Of course evidence on this is rather minimal, but horses are not telepathic or clairvoyant. What is known, is that they do have very keen hearing and an acute sense of smell. Supernatural happenings will be really disruptive (-10) because they will be unfamiliar, and the rider will also be scared of them.
Smell of blood. This really upsets horses. Hunts are careful to keep horses well away from the kill.

Horses have four gaits: walk, trot, canter and gallop. Speeds: walk is 4-6mph; trot is 5-8mph; canter can be slow (12mph) or fast (25mph). Gallop is 25-40mph. But the horse will go as fast or as slow as it wants to, depending on whether you can 'light it up' or not. It is perfectly possible to get about using only walk and trot, so very unskilled riders may get into trouble at a canter, and slightly better ones will still have trouble at a gallop. However, some unskilled riders have a 'hot seat', which can be rather amusing

Ineffectual riders
An ineffectual rider will know how to give the horse basic instructions but will be unable to enforce them should the horse refuse to co-operate - which is very common as horses always know if there's an unsteady seat in the saddle. Even if the horse is generally obliging and docile, it may become very stubborn with the ineffectual rider on board. This is not nastiness, but discomfort at the constant clumsy kicks in the ribs, thumps on the back and tugs in the mouth.Ineffectual riders will have little control over the horse's speed, and in a crisis will get taken wherever the horse feels like going. If such a rider does decide to assert themselves, the horse will know it doesn't have to obey. It will either ignore the rider, or become really upset at the ham-fisted way it is being treated, and may buck or bolt. This will certainly cause a disaster as ineffectual riders have poor balance, and even minor shying or a stumble may be enough to unseat them. Ineffectual riders might well hate riding because (understandably) of the unpleasant sensation that the big brute underneath them is the one in control.

Dangerous things horses might do
Horses might do a number of things that are very unseating and may put themselves and their rider in danger. Often they do these things from fear, but some real rogues learn to do them out of disobedience.
It is useful to jump ditches, hedges, etc. Any attempt to jump will result in one of a few outcomes:
The horse will jump. This is a very athletic movement and inexpert riders may fall.
The horse will crash through the object as though it wasn't there - but only if it is flimsy. They won't do this if they think they will hurt themselves.
The horse will stop. They can go from gallop to a standstill, but the rider can't. This is what happened to Christopher Reeve. Half the time even excellent riders get dumped. Or, the horse will try to swerve around the obstacle - for the rider the outcome is much the same.
The horse will try to jump but not clear the obstacle, and will fall. You may both be injured. The horse may not be quite so willing to jump for you in future.
You are more likely to fall off while jumping than while doing anything else. A horse is more likely to jump if it's following another horse, in fact you might find it impossible to stop. It is more likely to refuse if the obstacle is a ditch or looks off-putting - an object such as a stile is difficult, as is a wide object such as a cart. If the horse is worried about the obstacle and is following another horse it may try to find another way, by swerving suddenly, and the rider may be unseated.
Bucking is flinging the back legs in the air like doing a handstand, and the horse might do it only once or it might do it until it has got rid of its rider. Bolting is galloping madly away and refusing to stop, and a bolting horse might be so terrified it no longer cares about its own safety (see above). It will certainly upset other horses.
Rearing is standing on the back legs like a performing dog. You see this a lot in films because it looks very impressive, but in real life it's very dangerous as the horse can easily fall over backwards.

Horses that are aggressive may trample on someone, although well-mannered ones will do their utmost to avoid stepping on a person, even a fallen rider. Aggressive horses also might crush the rider or their dismounted handler, for instance, against a wall.
A horse might buck if excited. Any horse might do any of the above if frightened, but a horse who does them repeatedly has learned to use its strength defiantly (habitual behaviour like that is known as a vice).
However, they rarely rear in real life, because of the way they are trained (take no notice of what you see in films), but if they do rear they can fall over backwards. If they do it repeatedly they have to go for remedial training (rarely works) or be sold to some unsuspecting mug. If you want to have a horse rear in a game, roll to see if it falls over and if that happens, roll again to see if the rider is still alive.
Other ways in which a horse might injure a human - or another horse - are kicking and biting. Front legs and back legs are equally as dangerous. Being kicked by a horse is like being hit full force with a sledgehammer (not, as GURPS says, like a punch). And remember horses wear iron shoes.
Biting is also serious - horses' incisors are sharp and can give you a nasty wound. A horse may have learned to kick and/or bite as a habit too - usually it will kick or bite both humans and other horses.

The weather
Very cold weather (a bright crisp morning) makes them full of fun and raring to go, and more likely to cavort if they hear a rustle in the bushes. You might have little episodes of prancing and shying, which will be infectious. You will get everywhere much faster, but riding rolls are at -4.
A windy day can make them irritable (as opposed to just giving them extra oomph) because they rely on their hearing (imagine trying to hold an important conversation with someone in a high wind). They'll be more likely to be seriously worried by things, and will hear unfamiliar things - such as buildings rattling, or branches creaking. Difficulty -4 - roll to see if someone is about to leap sideways or try to bolt home!
Snowfalls and rain make them miserable. They tend to trudge along with their heads bowed. If they're startled by something, they are less likely to go potty than normal. Hot weather saps their energy (so if you buy a horse in high summer it may wake up in winter to become a monster!).
Thunderstorms may scare them, or they may not. Roll, modifying according to how sensitive they are.
Changing seasons... spring is a particularly frisky time of year for horses. All riding rolls are at -2.

Falling off
Simply riding along is not too difficult - the problems with staying on tend to come if something unexpected happens. Horses can go from halt to gallop in an instant - unlike a car they don't have to change up through the gears. Ability to stay on depends on being able to recover from this sudden change in balance or momentum. Even very experienced riders get caught out.
Holding the reins doesn't help you stay on - they're not like bicycle handlebars - but if you drop the reins you don't have as much control. You can also control the horse quite well by holding both reins in one hand - for instance, while using a sword. Remember to adjust for the unbalancing effect of the sword. Falling off is more painful the faster you are going, and you can also get caught up in various bits of saddlery - reins, stirrups etc and dragged.
Getting on again can be a lot of fun. Horses rarely just stand there after they have dumped you, although some honest souls will. Normally you will be running around a bit. If you're injured, tough luck.
If you are with other riders, your horse might run off and then come back to them (herd instinct). Or it might simply decide to go home without you. Or it might decide that freedom is wonderful (particularly if it has been made to walk all day and has a lot of energy ), and it may decide to charge at all the remaining horses to invite them to 'play'.
Roll to see if this has upset the others. If you're up to really complex game mathematics, a horse with a dominant personality (further up the pecking order) will cause a lot more trouble than one who is lower down. Also, by this time, the other riders may be upset if they feel their horses are being controlled by the loose one. And, since your reins are no doubt dangling loose around the horse's legs, there's a good chance that the horse will break them (they panic if they get tangled up in things), making it rather awkward for you to ride.
Horses always tend to behave consistently after dumping riders, so if they've hared off home once, they'll do it again.

Dogs, pigs and wolves
Dogs threatening you or running towards you... horses have a race memory of dogs as wolves. Dogs, however, love chasing horses. Even if a horse has become used to dogs through hunting it might be scared by a threatening hound. Penalty: -2 or more if the horse has had a previous bad experience with a dog. The horse will either flee (roll to see if the rider was unseated by the sudden movement) or give the dog a good kicking, which the dog may not survive.
Horses are scared of pigs. Modern farms make sure they keep pigs away from horses' grazing and from bridle paths. Just the smell of them will seriously upset a horse.

What the horse may tell you
You can get quite a lot of feedback about your surroundings from the horse. It will hear strange sounds long before you do and get agitated - for instance, gunshots, arrows being fired, or other horses approaching (particularly if they're going much faster than you are). It may speed up if you're coming close to civilisation. It will definitely get uppity if you seem uncertain - apprehensive about a particular path, for instance. That's why it will try to take you home if you get lost.

Fighting on horseback
GURPS regards fighting on horseback as giving you a height advantage. This seems to understate the case; however, it's a mixed blessing. Although you will be higher up and possibly more manoeuvrable, you still have to keep control of your mount. If you're with other horses you will have less time to devote to making sure they aren't all sending each other disruptive vibes.
Also, it is difficult to stay in the saddle while fighting, as aiming a good blow might be rather unbalancing. You need to be quite an advanced rider to withstand any sudden moves the horse makes, and to stay in control.
Holding a shield is very unbalancing, as is wearing armour.

Horse meets horse
You realise how much the horse has retained its old instincts when you see how much influence they have on each other. Horses are herd animals and always want to stick together because they feel safer. They also prefer the familiar - home - to a strange place. Here are a number of apparently simple things that are made far more complicated by the horse's hard-wired nature.
Going away from home on their own. Penalty -2 - horses want to stay at home, so an ineffectual rider often can't get them started. If with other horses they will follow them.
Going past another horse. You will find it harder to steer, then you may grind to a halt and simply follow the other horse. If you are on your own and going past a big group, Difficulty -1 (at least). If you are part of a big group going past a small group, your horse will follow the bigger crowd.
Being passed by another horse. Difficulty -2. If they are cantering while you are walking, disruption -4. If they are galloping, difficulty -6 (because it is exciting not only for the horses doing it but for any others it encounters). If you are on your own and are passed by a big group, add another difficulty level. You may be taken who knows where. Or you may fall off. Or you may decide to gallop towards somebody yourself to cause mischief. Horses communicate excitement to each other very easily.
Other horses being prats or spotting danger. One horse going doolally causes problems for everyone. They communicate by body language and have incredibly fast reactions. You can all be plodding along and then suddenly charging back in the opposite direction. Modifier -10. Good riders may regain control reasonably quickly, if they weren't unseated.
Leading another horse while riding. You have much less control over a horse if you're not on it, so any of the above becomes more difficult (-2). You also should roll to see if the horses get on well with each other. If they don't, the penalty is -4.
Introducing a new horse to your group. If you add a horse to your string or if you ride with strangers all the horses size each other up like thugs in a pub. The new horse will get bullied (threatened kicks, face pulling) by the others. All the horses become harder to steer and may shy away from each other, which may be unseating (-4). If any horse gets too close to the new horse, a kicking match will start. Roll to see if the kick connected, (horses have a very good aim) and what damage it did. Damage could be anything from a graze to a broken leg or shattered joint - in the latter case the horse will have to be killed. A severe injury is likely because of the iron shoes the horse wears.
Sex. Mares come into season every month or so in the spring and summer which makes them more of a handful. Modifer -4, but some are sex-maniacs so could be worse. They may try to do embarrassing things to a passing gelding, who may or may not enjoy it. Stallions can get excited when ridden near mares. with a penalty of -6, or more if the mare is in season.
Driving horses in a cart or carriage. This is much harder than riding them (because you control a horse with your weight when you ride). Penalty -2, cumulative for each horse in the team. Don't try and put a riding horse into harness unless you're sure it is used to it. And while we're at it, don't try to ride a driving horse unless it is used to it.

Nomad players
Here's a scenario that some friends got into a while ago. The players rode up to an inn after a long day and gave the horses a well earned feed. But as they pulled their boots off in front of a roaring fire, they heard a plot to murder and rob them, so they put their boots back on, went and saddled their horses and galloped off.
Any horse owner knows this could cause the horse an agonising, premature death. If you make it do strenuous exercise on a full stomach, you may cause blockages in its intestine because the lungs and diaphragm press on the stomach, compressing its contents into large lumps, which could then become stuck in the intestine. If the horse gets intestinal pain it can't be sick, so it can't get rid of the problem. The horse becomes more and more agitated, and then starts to throw itself around, and can give itself internal injuries so that the only thing to do is to kill it. We're talking colic, and it's a word that makes horse owners mutter protective oaths.
Even today colic is often fatal. It may be relieved early enough by giving a purgative (although that can cause more problems than it solves), and with modern painkilling drugs.
You have to wait an hour and a half for the horse's stomach to empty. Your options are:
Go slowly (gently ambling on a full stomach probably won't harm a horse provided it is not carrying a heavy load so that it starts puffing - this will be a very peculiar, tension-filled escape, and the horses will get fidgety and harder to control as they sense it)
Leave the horses (and come back for them later)
Tough it out in the inn
Chance it - any grooms may put up a vigorous defence to stop you. If that's what you decide, remember a horse in pain is very dangerous. Make danger rolls to avoid flying hooves, or the panic-stricken horse throwing itself on top of you. If you try to make it eat a purgative it might regard that as aggressive. A frightened horse that is in a stable may attack you. And it would serve you right.
You may be thinking, don't be daft, they survived in the wild, they can't be so fragile. But in the wild they graze for 20 hours a day. If they ran away from predators, their stomachs are always just under half full. So their guts are designed to process food constantly.
And they know this very well. A very ineffectual rider will probably find that once he has mounted, the horse takes them to a nice patch of grass, puts its head down and eats, ignoring the flailing arms and legs up on top. It will also try to eat passing plants - regardless of whether they are poisonous, so a bit of wilderness lore is important for riders. In the wild a horse wouldn't eat poisonous plants, but once domesticated a horse will eat pretty much anything, at any time. So it is easy to poison a horse.

The 'quest' style of roleplaying game, where players go on a long journey, brings particular problems. Basically, if you have a horse your life revolves around it. Even if you have a groom to do all the dirty work like grooming and mucking out, you still have to fit in with the horse's routine, which is entirely dictated by when it has to be fed.
Horses should be fed at roughly the same times each day. This means you will have to stop at roughly the same times each day, and yes you have to give them a lunch hour. You may be rather vulnerable at this time. If the horse goes for too long without food it gets colic. There is a small chance that a horse in your travelling gang may get colic because of factors beyond your control - such as stale food - so you should roll every now and again to check that everything is okay. Also, if you stay at an inn and your horse is fed the wrong thing, it may become uncontrollable.
Horses must be shod every four to six weeks, so you should make periodic rolls for finding a farrier and for how good the one you choose is. They also have to be shod if they lose a shoe (happens a lot in deep mud, and some horses are prone to losing shoes). If you have to use whatever farrier you come across, you may have picked an incompetent one. And even a good farrier can accidentally put a nail through the sensitive part of a horse's foot and lame it. If you try to nail a lost shoe back on by yourself, disaster is certain.
Having to use lodgings may cause other problems - stables may be in dangerously bad repair and injure the horses, or the grooms may put your horses in a field with others they have not met before. They will all have a big fight to establish who's boss. Roll to see whose horse got kicked and then again to see how badly.
Unfamiliar ground. Aspringy-looking meadow may tempt you to gallop, but you may not have seen the rabbit holes, or it may be marshy. Also, if you jump an obstacle, the landing side may be a lot harder or softer than you were expecting. Both may lame the horse badly. Ground conditions vary according to the weather. Lots of rain turns fields into bottomless mudbaths. A horse can easily wrench a tendon or a ligament trying to pull a foot out of deep mud, so you have to walk everywhere. Also they may slip over, or lose a shoe. Cold weather, especially snow, turns exposed ground to concrete if the ground has frozen. The horse may slip, and it may get concussion injuries in its legs if it goes fast, so the riders have to be careful.
Tack. Less experienced riders may not be able to tell if the horse's tack fits properly. A horse with back pain from a badly fitting saddle or a badly adjusted bit may be very disobedient. A rider may mistake this for cussedness. If tack is not cleaned it can cause sores. If a horse in the Roman army got these, it couldn't be used for two weeks and the soldier was fined heavily. Clearly they didn't want to chance going into battle without the required tack, but don't let that stop you trying. Just look at the notes above and remember that the invention of the stirrup was what made fighting on horseback possible. A rider's safety depends on certain items of tack. A broken girth or stirrup leather can be disastrous, as can a snapped strap on the bridle. They may wear out, or they may be tampered with. Good horsemen always check their tack before mounting.
If you feed an exhausted horse, it will probably get colic because it won't be able to digest. An experienced horseman knows it must be walked around until its pulse, temperature and respiration have returned to normal, then offered lukewarm (not cold) water in small amounts (not a great bucket all in one go), then an easily digestible feed such as bran mash. Once it's recovered it can have its normal feed. So even if you're all knackered after a marathon session in the saddle, you must spend half an hour or so looking after your horse.
Sleep. Yours, not theirs. Being herd animals, horses don't need much sleep. They need time at the end of a working day to mentally unwind (and to stuff themselves with the required amount of food) but they don't sleep very deeply, unlike humans. A person who is not an early riser is going to find owning a horse can be a downright pain.
If a horse falls and breaks a bone it will probably have to be put down. They break bones about as often as humans do. A horse weighs at least half a ton without armour, and up to a ton if very large and heavily muscled. Recovering from an injury takes longer if the horse is big. A 12 hand lightly built pony (suitable for small children) will take a couple of days to get over a bruise with swelling, while a 16 hand hunter/warhorse type will take a couple of weeks. A torn ligament will put any horse out of action for months, and a tendon for years.
A horse is faster then a camel and much more manoeuvrable. But few horses can outrun dogs.
Warhorses have been trained to be aggressive, however, they do so only on command and should be easy if handled by an experienced person.
A horse's sense of smell is very sensitive - they tell the difference between male and female humans by their generic smell (some horses show a distinct aversion to males but not to females, and vice versa, usually because they've been hurt by a man), and also the differences between individuals.

Buyer Beware - Be Very Aware!
If players need to buy horses, there is endless scope for mischief. The horse might turn out to be difficult or dangerous, or have something physically wrong with it. If you aren't an expert in horse lore as well as riding, you are 90% likely to make a bad buy, even today. For a start, you may not be able to tell that the horse is about twenty years old (geriatric, and disastrous if you want a lot of mileage) or three years old (far too immature for work - indeed it may never have been broken, but you may have been told it is quiet to ride).
35% of horses that look okay to experts turn out to have something wrong when examined by a vet - this ranges from leg problems to a heart murmur, broken wind or blindness in one eye, 20% of horses that seem well-adjusted and nice when an expert tries them, turn out to be difficult or dangerous; even more soon resent the kind of work you want them to do.
A horse can be doped so that it appears to be quiet and easy to handle. Another common problem is a horse that has never been taught to go away from other horses when a competent rider asks.
An old trick with a horse that has a lame front leg, is to lame the other front leg so that the horse moves evenly.
A female horse might be in the early stages of pregnancy, which is impossible to detect until 5 months, when the horse gets fat (and possibly goes lame because of extra weight on limbs). A horse's gestation period is 11 months.
While an experienced horseman will be able to tell a certain amount from the ground, it is only once they try riding a horse that they discover whether it is well mannered, easy to stop etc. You take your life in your hands if you try a horse without first seeing the vendor ride it. (But you may not know that.)
The first few months you spend with a new horse are crucial, where you find out if it's going to go lame or continually terrorise you, or whether it's a dreadful old plod with less oomph than a snail. Traditionally, these kind of horses can be given extra pizazz in the saleroom with overdoses of oats (a food that makes horses excitable, but there are downsides, such as crippling metabolic diseases) or enemas of ginger and mustard.

Problem Horses
Young horses - they are broken to harness and/or saddle at age 3-4 years, and only start acting maturely at age 7 or 8. It's harder to get their concentration, and skill penalties could be as much as -5.
Spirited horses, bad-mannered, or downright evil horses (depends on breed and personality - and generally the more flashy the horse, the more spirited it is) are between -1 and -5 or more to ride.
Horses in the wrong situation for their training - racehorses are not generally safe to ride in company as they have been trained to race, which is bad manners in normal riding horses. Warhorses are very obedient, but only to a skilled rider.
Geldings (castrated males) are less temperamental than mares, who are far less temperamental than stallions. Anyone riding a stallion should be an experienced rider. Of course, even nice horses sometimes misbehave, because they feel in high spirits or grumpy.
All these problems may occur in combination. Consider them every time you get on an unfamiliar animal.
There is also the question of whether you feel safe on a particular horse. Even experienced riders may feel uneasy sometimes. This could be because of the way the horse responds to your instructions - perhaps it is extremely sensitive, or hard to stop, or it falls over a lot. Even gung-ho personalities are unnerved by riding a horse that stumbles. Generally, you take good care of your horse because it is expensive to replace, and because you don't want to lose one that suits you.

In conclusion
Gamers strive for authenticity in areas such as combat, comeliness and spell- casting, but equestrianism is rarely explored. This seems to me illogical - you rely heavily on your horse and it probably has to get you out of danger from time to time. But this 'piece of equipment' has definite opinions about its work and its relationship with you, and can even be quite fragile. Next time you want some aspect of reality to complicate an already dramatic situation, just consider the horses!