Created By: ShiningwingX on April 17, 2014 Last Edited By: ShiningwingX on May 17, 2014
Troped

Only The Chosen May Ride

A horse or other rideable creature which can only be tamed and ridden by the one it chooses.

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Trope
The Cool Horse is a mainstay in fantasy works everywhere. They may be normal, or of a different color but you'd be hard pressed to find a fantasy world without it. They are proud and noble beasts, carrying their masters into battle, or off into the sunset once their work is done. Many times they are a character in their own right, with as much praise and respect as their human (or non-human) rider.

However, some steeds are not content with just any master. These beasts, be they horses, dragons, giant yellow birds or what have you, decide for themselves who is worthy enough to ride them and who is not. They may be a Unicorn a Hellish Horse, a Sapient Steed or just extremely proud. Whatever the reason, these horses simply CANNOT be broken by just anyone.

In short, the only ones who can ride such steeds are those that they choose themselves.

Not always a sign of The Chosen One but it often is. If multiple people can in fact ride them, then it is only because the steed has decided that each of them are worthy. In most cases such steeds will allow others to ride them should their master wish it. However, in the most extreme cases, this steed's chosen rider really is the only one who can.

If they're a normal horse (or the equivalent), they often have a reputation for being stubborn and difficult. If they are a magical or mythical creature, expect their choosiness in riders to be a staple in the legends surrounding them.

Please note that this trope refers to a steed that specfically chooses, or at least seems to choose a rider of its own accord. Examples that would fall under this trope include:

  • A single unique creature that only Alice can ride
  • A group of such creatures exist but Alice can only ride the one that chose her
  • Alice or Bob could ride the steed in question, but only because it finds both worthy to do so.

Examples such as a steed that is particularly stubborn but could be 'broken' by anyone, or the Proud Warrior Race being the only ones who know the "secret" to taming the creatures would NOT fall under this trope. Please be mindful of this when adding examples.

Subtrope of Cool Horse and sister trope to Only the Chosen May Wield. Related to Sapient Steed which often goes hand in hand with this trope. Compare Only I Can Make It Go, which has to do with cars. Compare/Contrast Bond Creatures and Familiar for creatures with a similar bond that is created through more magical or psychic means.


Examples

Anime and Manga
  • Pokémon. In the episode "The Flame Pokemon-athon!", it is stated that Ponyta's (and most probably also Rapidash's) fiery mane burns anyone who he/she does not trust. Ash (who's supposed to be riding Lara's Ponyta in a race) gets burned the first (and second) time he tries to touch Ponyta, but eventually the two learn to work together.
  • In Dragon Ball, the kinto'un is a semi-sentient magic cloud that Only the Pure of Heart may ride. (That trope was originally called Nimbus Privileges, after a common dub name for the kinto'un.) Goku, Chi-chi, and Gohan are its most common riders.

Film
  • Avatar The Ikran are dragon-like creatures that the Na'vi use as mounts. Every Ikran chooses its own master, and only then if the one they choose can best them in combat and tame them.
    • Worth special mention is Toruk Makto, who is said to be untameable by even the strongest of Na'vi. Jake manages to do so.
  • An interesting take occurs in the first The Love Bug movie. Herbie, the titular vehicle is a living car that moves on its own, has emotions, and even speaks to some degree (Albeit only through use of his horn). He decides for himself who he'll let drive him, and anyone he doesn't like could just as easily be thrown out of the seat.

Literature
  • The Lord of the Rings has Shadowfax of the Mearas. Even the Rohirrim were not able to tame him. Gandalf however, was able to quite easily and he served as his steed from then on.
  • The Companions of the Heralds of Valdemar series are magical horselike beings which bond to a particular human rider. The Companion always chooses the human, never vice versa. Being Chosen by a Companion makes someone one of the titular Heralds, who serve as a combination of Mounties, circuit judges, military scouts and Search and Rescue service, among other things. Heralds are considered to be intrinsically incorruptible, because the Companions don't Choose people who would take bribes or the like. It is also required that the ruler of the country be a Herald, and no one who has not been Chosen by a Companion is eligible to be ruler or heir.
    • In Exile's Valor, Prince Karathanelan assumes the Companions are just distinctively-colored horses and heads off to Companions' Field to break one of them to saddle. The only reason he survives to the novel's final fight scene is because Caryo goes easy on him.
  • Harry Potter. Hippogryphs choose who they will allow to ride them. As Malfoy finds out, insulting one is a good way to get sent to the hospital.
  • Gib the Water Horse in the Arcia Chronicles is less of a horse and more of a sentient force of nature, so he is extremely picky about whom he allows to ride him. Specifically, the only human he has ever allowed close to him is Rene Arroy, who just happens to be an old seadog as well as an experienced horseman.
  • The War Gods has the Sothoii Coursers, the descendants of magically altered horses. They are as intelligent as humans as well as being larger, stronger, faster and having more endurance than any natural horse. Some of them will enter into a psychic bond with a human (who are called Windriders). Like the Heralds and their Companions, the Windriders are respected by all Sothoii, and are guaranteed to be honorable (as the Sothoii see it anyway). Coursers won't associate with anyone who isn't.
  • Early in the Gor series it is established that only natural tarnsmen are able to ride war tarns (giant birds used as cavalry), and even then if a tarn doesn't like a particular tarnsman it could just as easily rip him to shreds. In later stories the craft of tarn domestication is further advanced such that any trained rider can ride any tarn.
  • Protector of the Small has a mundane example in Peachblossom. He's a gelding with a foul temper and generalized misanthropy after having been abused, and Daine has to persuade him to let Kel ride him. Kel is the only person who can do so (he'll kick or bite anyone else) until Tobe, who has horse magic and can communicate with him like Daine does.
  • In The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Ranyhyn are horses with enhanced intelligence, speed and endurance. A person can go to the Plains of Ra where they live and offer himself to them. If a Ranyhyn considers that person to be worthy it will allow him to ride it.
  • In Romance of the Three Kingdoms, Red Hare, a huge Cool Horse so named because "it can run fast as a hare and is colored red", only ever allowed Lu Bu and later—after the Lu Bu's disposal— Guan Yu to ride him, as no one else could tame him.
  • The titular Dragonriders of Pern are chosen this way. The dragons form an empathic bond with a particular human, who is then shanghaied into the life of a dragonrider. The bond is so strong that riders of dragons who mate often wind up having sex as well whether they meant to or not.
  • The Way of Kings has the Ryshadium, a breed of horses that pick their riders. Dalinor and Andolin each have a Ryshadium mount, larger and smarter then other horses. Their antagonist, Sadeas is frustrated that he is unable to have a horse as fine, despite his great wealth.

Mythology and Religion
  • The Unicorn is a magical horse-like creature depicted in various mythologies. It is said that only a maiden is capable of capturing and taming it.
  • Centaurs, horselike creatures but fully sentient, do not like being ridden on by people but will, when the situation requires it, carry a human on its back to safety or to alert others, etc.

Tabletop Games
  • Dungeons & Dragons: Early editions had Warhorses which a Paladin could befriend. Each Warhorse/other mount (often they were some kind of Cool Steed) is specifically bonded to a particular Paladin, and won't respond to others without their master's order.

Video Games

Real Life
  • Bucephalus was a stallion of excellent breeding, being sold for a rather exorbitant price despite being considered largely untamable. A young Alexander the Great was able to tame and ride him, but no one else ever could.

Community Feedback Replies: 65
  • April 17, 2014
    Paradisesnake
    Anime and Manga
    • Pokemon: In the episode, "The Flame Pokemon-athon!", it is stated that Ponyta's (and most probably also Rapidash's) fiery mane burns anyone who he/she does not trust. Ash (who's supposed to be riding Lara's Ponyta in a race) gets burned the first (and second) time he tries to touch Ponyta, but eventually the two learn to work together.
  • April 17, 2014
    KTera
  • April 17, 2014
    Chabal2
    Harry Potter: Hippogryphs choose who they will allow to ride them. As Malfoy finds out, insulting one is a good way to get sent to the hospital.
  • April 17, 2014
    Koveras
    • Gib the Water Horse in the Arcia Chronicles is less of a horse and more of a sentient force of nature, so he is extremely picky about whom he allows to ride him. Specifically, the only human he has ever allowed close to him is Rene Arroy, who just happens to be an old seadog as well as an experienced horseman.
  • April 17, 2014
    Paradisesnake
    Did some formatting.

    The Heralds Of Valdemar example is a Zero Context Example by the way.
  • April 17, 2014
    ShiningwingX
    Yeah, but could anyone elaborate on it? I'll remove it if not but I'm not familiar with that work myself.
  • April 17, 2014
    foxley
    Expanding the Heralds Of Valdemar example: Companions are highly intelligent magical creatures who look like (but are not) horses. Each Herald has a Companion, and these Companions "choose" a Herald during the trainee or apprentice stage, although the exact nature of the choosing is never described.
  • April 17, 2014
    Dalillama
    The Companions of the Heraldsof Valdemar series are magical horselike beings which bond to a particular human rider. The Companion always chooses the human, never vice versa. Being Chosen by a Companion makes someone one of the titular Heralds, who serve as a combination of Mounties, circuit judges, military scouts and Search and Rescue service, among other things. Heralds are considered to be intrinsically incorruptible, because the Companions don't Choose people who would take bribes or the like. It is also required that the ruler of the country be a Herald, and no one who has not been Chosen by a Companion is eligible to be ruler or heir.
    • The War Gods has the Sothoii Coursers, the descendants of magically altered horses. They are as intelligent as humans as well as being larger, stronger, faster and having more endurance than any natural horse. Some of them will enter into a psychic bond with a human (who are called Windriders). Like the Heralds and their Companions, the Windriders are respected by all Sothoii, and are guaranteed to be honorable (as the Sothoii see it anyway). Coursers won't associate with anyone who isn't.
  • April 17, 2014
    Katsuhagi
    Might want to mention in the description that this is essentially the animal equivalent of Only I Can Make It Go, which is about cars.
  • April 17, 2014
    Dalillama
    ^^Foxley It is, several times; it's basically your standard 'meeting of souls with the meeting of eyes'(is there a trope for that?) sort of deal, where a Companion is simply overcome with the desire/need to bond with a particular human, who reciprocates as soon as they look into the Companion's eyes and make a psychic link.
  • April 17, 2014
    DAN004
    Sister trope of Only The Chosen May Wield
  • April 17, 2014
    randomsurfer
    • Early in the Gor series it is established that only natural tarnsmen are able to ride war tarns (giant birds used as cavalry), and even then if a tarn doesn't like a particular tarnsman it could just as easily rip him to shreds. In later stories the craft of tarn domestication is further advanced such that any trained rider can ride any tarn.
  • April 17, 2014
    ShiningwingX
    I did think about that DAN. Maybe a good title would be Only The Chosen May Ride? Also, thanks to those who elaborated Heralds Of Valdemar.
  • April 18, 2014
    eowynjedi
    • Protector Of The Small has a mundane example in Peachblossom. He's a gelding with a foul temper and generalized misanthropy after having been abused, and Daine has to persuade him to let Kel ride him. Kel is the only person who can do so (he'll kick or bite anyone else) until Tobe, who has horse magic and can communicate with him like Daine does.
  • April 18, 2014
    aradia22
    Can someone who has seen or read Winter's Tale confirm if the horse in that movie is an example of this trope?
  • April 18, 2014
    Arivne
    Literature
    • In The Chronicles Of Thomas Covenant the Ranyhyn are horses with enhanced intelligence, speed and endurance. A person can go to the Plains of Ra where they live and offer himself to them. If a Ranyhyn considers that person to be worthy it will allow him to ride it.
  • April 18, 2014
    Arivne
  • April 18, 2014
    ShanghaiSlave
    Literature/History
  • April 18, 2014
    Dalillama
    Surprised it hasn't been mentioned yet:
    • The titular Dragonriders Of Pern are chosen this way. The dragons form an empathic bond with a particular human, who is then shanghaied into the life of a dragonrider. The bond is so strong that riders of dragons who mate often wind up having sex as well whether they meant to or not.
  • April 18, 2014
    FantasyLiver
    The dragon thingies in Avatar get to choose those who they feel who are worthy to ride them IIRC.
  • April 18, 2014
    jatay3
    Buccephelous(however that is spelled) could only be ridden by Alexander The Great.
  • April 18, 2014
    Paradisesnake
    ^^ They are called "banshees" (ikran in Na'vi).
  • April 18, 2014
    ShiningwingX
    Thanks for all the examples so far everyone. I added all of them thus far, save one, the Alexander The Great one. Can anyone add any context to that one?
  • April 19, 2014
    Dalillama
    ^Bucephalus was an untameable stallion who was being sold for a very low price despite his excellent breeding because no-one could get near him. Young Alexander was able to tame him and ride him, but no one else ever could.

    • In the Emberversenovels, Rudi Mac Kenzie gets his horse Epona in a similar fashion. Having been abused by a previous owner, she tries to kill any human who gets near her, but young Rudi manages to befriend her at considerable risk to his own life, and she is his loyal steed thereafter, but still tries to hurt anyone else who tries to touch her.
  • April 19, 2014
    Antigone3
    A subnote under the Valdemar entry — in Exile's Valor, Prince Karathanelan assumes the Companions are just distinctively-colored horses and heads off to Companions' Field to break one of them to saddle. The only reason he survives to the novel's final fight scene is because Caryo goes easy on him.
  • April 19, 2014
    arromdee
    Tabletop Games:

    Dungeons And Dragons, at least in early editions, had the concept of a paladin, who gets a warhorse who only the paladin can ride. Typically the paladin has to go on an adventure to find or rescue the warhorse first.
  • April 20, 2014
    ShiningwingX
    In the Dungeons And Dragons example: Is it specifically stated in lore that each individual paladin is the ONLY one that can ride any given Warhorse? Or is the Warhorse simply stated to be something that only the paladin CLASS can ride? I ask because simply being trained to ride a given mount does not make an example this trope. Only if the steed itself specifically, or at least seems to choose its own master, or worthy rider does it count.
  • April 20, 2014
    Dalillama
    ^ Each Warhorse/other mount (often they were some kind of Cool Steed) is specifically bonded to a particular Paladin, and won't respond to others (although I think that if the paladin specifically tells them to they'll carry someone else).
  • April 23, 2014
    NateTheGreat
    A related phenomenon occurs in the first The Love Bug movie. As Carol puts it, Herbie decided that Jim was "worth belonging to."
  • April 23, 2014
    Sackett
    The Way Of Kings by Brandon Sanderson has the Ryshadium, a breed of horses that pick their riders.
  • April 24, 2014
    ShiningwingX
    ^ Zero Context Example. Could you elaborate further?
  • April 24, 2014
    GuesssWho
    The title should probably use 'rider' instead of 'master'
  • April 25, 2014
    Arivne
    • Capitalized the title.
    • Deleted unnecessary blank line(s).
    • Blue Linked Example section media titles(s).
  • April 25, 2014
    ShiningwingX
    Rider probably would be better. I'll be having a title crowner once I get enough examples and hats though.
  • April 28, 2014
    Sackett

    • The Way Of Kings by Brandon Sanderson has the Ryshadium, a breed of horses that pick their riders. Dalinor and Andolin each have a Ryshadium mount, larger and smarter then other horses. Their antagonist, Sadeas is frustrated that he is unable to have a horse as fine, despite his great wealth.
  • April 29, 2014
    livemike
    Sir Nigel in the eponymous hero of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's was the only person capable of taming the yellow horse. He was given it as a reward for saving some of Waverly Abbey's employees from it's fury. Before the abbey took it in payment for a debt it had already injured several men seriously. The abbot also hoped it would kill him so it was both a reward and a punishment for his various offences against the abbey. He knew what the monks were hoping for but took and tamed it anyway.
  • April 29, 2014
    ShiningwingX
    ^ Clarification before I add this example. I searched the name and came up with The White Company by Doyle. I want to make sure this is right before adding it in.
  • April 30, 2014
    DAN004
    Launch?
  • April 30, 2014
    ShiningwingX
    Before launching, I'd like to have a title crowner. Should we stick with this name, or can anyone suggest anything better?
  • April 30, 2014
    eowynjedi
    I like "Only The Chosen May Ride". It's a clone, but since it's a sister trope....
  • April 30, 2014
    DAN004
    ^ seconding that.
  • May 2, 2014
    DAN004
    Wher's the crowner?
  • May 4, 2014
    ShiningwingX
    Sorry for the wait. It's made, and I messaged a moderator to hook it. It should show up soon.
  • May 4, 2014
    DAN004
    ^ you should've directly linked it in the description...
  • May 4, 2014
    ShiningwingX
    Well that's not what the page on them said to do and I was following that since I've never made a crowner before. If that's the case though, I will.

    Edit: Done. Vote away :).
  • May 5, 2014
    NateTheGreat
    "Only the Chosen May Ride?" That sounds uncomfortably like segregation in public transport.
  • May 5, 2014
    ShiningwingX
    Only if you really TRY to make it sound like that. People familiar with the site would probably sooner connect it with Only The Chosen May Wield than anything discriminatory.
  • May 5, 2014
    Snicka
    Why isn't the current title (Steed Chooses The Rider) an option in the crowner?
  • May 5, 2014
    NemuruMaeNi
    A prospective entry for Example As A Thesis this far.
  • May 5, 2014
    Arivne
    ^^^ Everythings Worse With Snowclones says that a reader should not be required to know of the existence of some other trope in order to understand a trope's name. If they do, the name is a Bad Snow Clone and thus illegal.
  • May 6, 2014
    DAN004
    "Only The Chosen May Ride" is clear enough, ain't it?
  • May 6, 2014
    ShiningwingX
    Snowclones are generally a bad thing but that doesn't mean they ALWAYS are. Being as its a sister-trope, I'd think it could be seen as an exception to the snowclone rule. Its a clear-cut title and doesn't leave much in the way of confusion even as a snowclone. Yes, tropers would likely make the connection to Only The Chosen May Wield but new arrivals or those unfamiliar with that trope could still understand it even without that knowledge. If the Snowclone thing is still a problem for people, then by all means suggest a different title. That's what the crowner is for.

    Snicka: Added. It was mainly a placeholder until the actual title was decided upon but if people prefer that one...
  • May 6, 2014
    DAN004
    ^ pretend you never know about Only The Chosen May Wield. Now does Only The Chosen May Ride clear by itself?

    if it is, it's a good snowclone.
  • May 6, 2014
    NemuruMaeNi
    You two ask each other the same question and don't even give your own opinions.
    The "Only the Chosen May Ride" title is not clear by itself, it's ambiguous. More so than the "Only the Chosen May Wield". Both are obviously not even trying to be witty or catchy, hence are to be taken literally.

    This fact exists together with the problem of exact intended description and boundaries of the trope. Those are not set in stone, aren't without problems yet are supposed to serve as a base for a desired solid name.

    Problems at taking the discussed titles literally are arising from existence of more than one way to take "chosen" literally, and in the case of the proposition — there is more than one way to take "ride" literally.

    The idea behind this YKTTW isn't that any way of taking the discussed title literally would still pass, is it?

    Chosen: weekly? by whom? by merits, by demerits, on a whim or perhaps by lottery? Initial description gave strong emphasis on steed having a say in the choice — an aspect totally lost in the proposed title. Heck, "Chosen" serves an in-universe title in a number of works, often pointing at self-proclaimed, arrogant, easily challenged puffery rather than neutrally meaning "a select few".

    Ride: amusement park? Bus, plane, train, someone (from piggy-back to sex)? Ride in or on or on and off? Description totally reeks of a horse animal only, yet even examples accepted have dragons. But not, say, motorcycles. Then description says to compare to something similar for case of cars, only to accept a car-related example below. Cool Horses with manes and deadly hooves all around indeed. "Just what's going on here?" is all there is to ask.

    Yet another thing lost with this [pseudo]-Snowclone case is the clarity of emphasis. There's not many options in "...May Wield", but "...May Ride" can even be literally takens as follows: Only the Chosen May Ride: "There's a rule that only, say, nobility can ride stuff. Common folk is decreed to be travelling by foot no matter what." It turns to be a case of restrictive regulations in effect in some area rather than a case of quirks of handling a particular horse.

    "Example as a thesis" doesn't help. And, there is a pothole of Too Dumb To Live. In the situation when nothing else suggests that perceptible life-threats is a must for this trope — neither universally nor in the very example where that pothole is found... Long story short, I don't think the title-examples-description triangle is clear.
  • May 6, 2014
    Desertopa
    Historical correction: Bucephalus, Alexander's horse, was sold for the sum of thirteen talents, which was an extraordinarily large sum for a horse. For reference, this was equivalent to the standard pay of a trireme oarsman for over two hundred years of work (daily pay was one drachma, a six thousandth of a talent.)
  • May 7, 2014
    Kakai
    To literature:
    • Rangers' horses in Rangers Apperentice can be an example: only a person who knows the "password" can ride them - otherwise they are kicked off by the horse. Usually the people who know the password are only the ranger, the breeder and anybody deemed worthy by one of the two.
  • May 8, 2014
    ShiningwingX
    Nemuru Mae Ni: Thank you for the detailed analysis. I think I understand now where the arguments against the title come from. Personally, the first thing that comes to my mind when I hear that title is exactly what the trope entails, even if I don't consider Only The Chosen May Wield as a comparison. That is why I support the pseudo-snowclone. However, now I see where other people could possibly perceive a different meaning from it. It still remains my personal choice of the options, but I care more about what works for the majority rather than just myself.

    As for the description, I agree that it should be improved. I'll work on that.
  • May 8, 2014
    hbi2k
    Compare Only The Pure Of Heart and Phlebotinum Handling Requirements.

    Anime & Manga
  • May 11, 2014
    ShiningwingX
    • Removed the Example As Thesis portion, as well as the 'Alternate Titles' as its unnecessary with the crowner there.
    • Fixed a few of the paragraphs to make the article more clear-cut.
  • May 11, 2014
    chicagomel
    This was used in the Dinotopia miniseries (but not the books,really.) The Skybaxes chose their riders after training was done,with the rider standing on a ridge with a bent arm gesture. The protagonist of this half of the story wasn't chosen, and was told to undertake a quest to find the albino pteranodon, and after he was able to correctly guess its name, Freefall, the pteranodon chose him as rider.
  • May 12, 2014
    randomsurfer
    Mythology: Centaurs, horselike creatures but fully sentient, do not like being ridden on by people because it implies a subservience they don't believe in; but will, when the situation requires it, carry a human on its back to safety or to alert others, etc.
  • May 14, 2014
    Paradisesnake
    ^ To be more exact, they're from Classical Mythology.
  • May 15, 2014
    hbi2k
    I'm seeing five hats, and I think either of the positive-rated trope names in the crowner would work just fine. Just Launch It Already.
  • May 15, 2014
    Kakai
    ^Yep. Up For Grabs.
  • May 17, 2014
    ShiningwingX
    Well alright. I'll do the final edits and throw it up. If people have issue with the name, there's always the discussion segment. Thanks everyone!
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=xesk7d9oguywa13wgzr63lhm