I should probably clarify, that diamond horse I've been telling you about? It's not a sculpture or anything! It's a living horse that actually happens to be made of — actually, I'll just go get her. Butt Stallion! Come here girl! Say hello, Butt Stallion!
So, you have yourself a Badass
, who now needs a badass way to get from point A to point B
. Naturally, the Cool Car
and the Cool Bike
are there for him! The problem? We are in a High Fantasy
story, mate and we've got no stomach for that much Anachronism Stew
Enter the Cool Horse.
An easy way to tell a Cool Horse is to check if it has a name. Especially, if it has a badass
name. More especially, if it can run through the entire story without having to rest and eat
. Most especially, if it looks badass
— a Hellish Horse
is cool by definition, as well as if it's involved in Horseback Heroism
. Bonus points if, for whatever reason, the hero is the ''only'' person who can ride it
A race who are Born in the Saddle
will have plenty of these, though the chief probably has the pick of the coolest ones.
Many Cool Horses can be used in battle without any serious training — which is very much not true in Real Life
. Indeed Give Me a Sword
often asks for a horse.
On alien planets, a Cool Horse will usually have a different color
... and may also be a machine
. Or even talk
. See Power Up Mount
for video game examples. Compare My Horse Is a Motorbike
, when a modern-day vehicle (most commonly a motorcycle) is given Cool Horse traits.
Contrast The Alleged Steed
(which can be a Cool Horse in disguise)
open/close all folders
Anime and Manga
- The entire point of Bt X. Bonus points are included for Winged Unicorn, Pegasus, Mechanical Horse, Horseback Heroism, Sapient Steed and Power Up Mount
- Celty from Durarara!! has a headless ghost-horse disguised as a motorbike. Its name is Shooter.
- Raoh in Fist of the North Star has a massive black stallion named Kokuoh ("Black King"). Its presence in a nuclear wasteland pushes the Fridge Logic even further, but seeing a giant man ride up on a giant horse is just too awesome to not let slide. This horse is so strong that it doesn't die when Kenshiro hits it.
- One of many shout outs from Cromartie High School to Fist of the North Star is the fact that Freddie rides an exact copy of Raoh's horse to, in and around school.
- In the beginning of Hana No Keiji, the hero, who is reminiscent of Kenshiro, hears of a powerful, giant horse much similar to Raoh's Kokuoh and spends 10 days befriending the horse so he could help him in a war.
- Mobile Fighter G Gundam's Master Asia has a horse, Fuunsaiki, which pilots a mobile suit shaped like a giant mechanical horse.
- A Running Gag in the series' yonkoma parody strips is the idea that Domon Kasshu is only Master Asia's second apprentice in the martial arts. Fuunsaiki is the first. And outranks Domon.
- Kyoshiro to Towa no Sora's Kyoshiro has himself a White Horse that transforms into a kind of airborne platform not dissimilar to those present in Kirby Air Ride.
- Ashitaka's red elk mount Yakkul from Princess Mononoke. Not a horse, per-se, but close enough.
- The Five-Tails from Naruto has characteristics of a horse.
- Reign The Conqueror was a cyberpunk version of the Alexander story, so naturally Bucephalus is present, as an almost demonic creature.
- The non-mechanical horses in Sengoku Basara: For example Takeda Shingen's horses (which he dual rides, standing with one leg in each saddle) defy gravity by climbing castle walls. And then there's Masamune's horse, which has Harley Davidson exhaust pipes and bike handles. in 16th century Japan.
- Entei from InuYasha, a flying demon horse with a mane and tail of actual fire.
- Aki's borrowed horse in Silver Spoon is "only" a mortal horse, but wow, can it make a cool entrance. The hero initially mistakes it for a bear. And it comes with a reference to the aforementioned Cool Horse in Fist of the North Star.
- The protagonist is entering Equestrian Club, so of course it features varied horse, most of them qualify for this trope, from large and super-strong Ban'ei horse to agile Hokkaido's small horse to an ugly, temperamental and snarky horse who actually very good in hands of competent rider.
- Saber Rider's Steed and April's Nova (in the American version) in Saber Rider and the Star Sheriffs.
- The Bounty Hunter's horse in the manwha "Yongbi" is like if Maximus was born in historical Korea. He constantly speaks his mind and has many arguments with his rider. He's also able to determine the worth of a sacred gold medallion just by licking it, forced the staff and other horses to serve him hand and hoof in the palace horse stable, immediately sensed his master was in danger when the the evil emperor sends assassins to kill him in his sleep (it doesn't work), and destroyed part of the palace while holding the sacred medallion before swallowing it to keep it out of the Emperor's hands.
- In Shaman King, Tao Ren sometimes rides a gigantic black horse possessed by the spirit of the warhorse named Black Peach who was ridden by his spirit partner, Bason during his living days as a Chinese warlord.
- In Osamu Tezuka's Dororo, one of the demons Hyakkimaru faces was a possessed female warhorse named Midoro who was forcibly separated from her foal by her cruel master to fight in one of his latest battles. When she was near death, she made a bargain with an equine demon to use her body in exchange to never lose against any human. The ghostly horse was easily able to go hoof-to-toe with the demon slaying protagonist. The horse then comes under the possession of Hyakkimaru's power hungry rival, Saburoto, who falls under the demon's spell. He then uses it to raze nearby villages, and even hammers in spike-studded horseshoes so it could kill more people.
- The Survey Corps from Attack on Titan make use of specially-bred horses in their operations. Bonus Material gives more detail on these unique horses, each of which is worth more than the average citizen makes in a lifetime. Their top speed is 75 - 80 km/h (47 - 50 mph), and they are the only means to escape Titans when outside the Walls and in open areas. They are specifically bred to have exceptional stamina and strength, as well as Nerves of Steel so that they do not spook when encountering Titans or when riders activate their gear while in the saddle.
- In the Rurouni Kenshin anime, one of the filler episodes features a horse who jumps between several stationary boats without pausing in between, and then follows this up by leaping on top of a train.
- Apocalypse, Batman's huge, black warhorse (with batwinged barding) in the The American Civil War Elseworld The Blue, The Gray, and The Bat.
- Marvel's The Mighty Thor has Odin's horse, Sleipnir, which is a giant white horse with eight legs.
- In the Silver Age, Supergirl had Comet the Super-Horse, who had the powers of unaided flight, super-strength, super-speed, telepathy, and the ability to turn into a human named Bronco Bill. They were dating. Okay, okay, he was actually a centaur who got turned into a horse by a witch, but it's still creepy.
- Wild West-era Ghost Rider usually got hellish horses burning with hellfire.
- Don Rosa's The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck has Hortense, Scrooge's mare named after his hot-tempered sister. Smart, fearless, and capable of things extraordinary for regular horse, including mast climbing.
- Dynamite, the first and most famous steed of Tex Willer.
- Taken Up to Eleven with Lucky Luke's Jolly Jumper. Aside from being Luke's Non Human Side Kick, Jolly can ride on his own with Luke sleeping (and vice versa), thinks of Luke's escape routes by himself, is a sarcastic smartass, can play chess well enough to beat Lucky Luke himself, can not only do math, but write the correct answer in the sand, and, of all things, fish. How did he get the bait on the hook? "Like everybody: With disgust."
- Bamse's horse Billy Boy is a more realistic version of the trope; he's a fairly normal horse with a normal horse's intelligence and behavior — but no less cool for that, as he's exceptionally strong and fast, and can beat just about any other horse in a race.
- In "The Princess on the Glass Hill", three magnificient horses are eating all the grass in the field; once he catches them, the hero can climb the glass hill on their backs.
- In The Fire-Bird, the Horse of Power, and the Princess Vasilissa, the title horse of power. It talks, for one, and is smarter than its owner, and can ride to far off lands easily.
- Hungarian fairy tales often have a talking horse that eats ember, drinks wine, could fly, instantly go from one place to another in a blink of an eye, and provide exposition. They are often referred to as "Táltos" (Shaman), and like many shamans, may posess physical deformities - usually an odd number of legs. The hero usually finds them neglected (or purposely starved) and half dead, and has to nurse them back to health to earn their help.
- The Cool Horse was de rigueur for the B Western hero. Silver is the most famous, but equally famous in their day were Gene Autry's steed Champion, Tom Mix's Tony "the Wonder Horse" and, of course, Roy Rogers' companion Trigger. To give an idea of how important these noble equines were, posters for several of Rogers' movies gave Trigger more prominent billing than Dale Evans, even after she and Rogers were married. That Other Wiki has a full article here.
- Artax from The Neverending Story. Although his death traumatized many a wee kidlet, he remains a beloved equine, especially his resurrection/reappearance at the end of the film racing across the plains with Atreyu on his back.
- Terry Gilliam's Baron Munchhausen rode a horse called Bucephalus.
- Navarre in Lady Hawke rides a Friesian (called Goliath in the movie and named Othello in real life). The Count of Anjou has a gray Andalusian.
- Cactus Jack Slade, the protagonist of the western comedy film The Villain, has a horse named Whiskey who is at least five times smarter and more capable than he is. Fun Fact
- The western parody Rustlers Rhapsody features Rex O'Herlihan the Singing Cowboy and his ultra-smart wonder-horse Wildfire.
- The horse that was ridden by John Rambo in Rambo III, and also by Indiana Jones in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade — the one where said horse charges a tank and wins.
- Carter Slade's horse when he goes into Ghost Rider mode in, well, Ghost Rider is damned impressive-looking, as is...
- Daredevil, the horse of Sleepy Hollow's Headless Horseman.
- Toy Story 2 has Bullseye.
- History of the World Part I has Miracle. And that horse can time-travel ... sort of.
- Hidalgo, from the movie of the same name.
- In the Disney animated version of The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Phoebus had a horse called Achilles, who would actually sit down on command - usually on top of someone bothering his master.
- Frollo has a Cool Horse too. Although the animators named it Snowball for a joke. He knows it, too; when Phoebus steals his horse and escapes, Frollo tells the archers to shoot, but warns them not to hit his horse.
- The Fire Mares of Krull, which can travel really fast, and can fly over cliffs. They run so fast it causes the ground to catch fire where their hooves hit it.
- Khartoum, Jack Woltz's magnificent stallion from The Godfather, who was infamously killed because Woltz wouldn't give Johnny Fontane, the godson of mob boss Don Vito Corleone, the starring role in a new movie.
- Spirit from Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron. You should see what he puts his enemies through.
- Several other Disney horses include:
- Altivo from The Road to El Dorado.
- The plot of The Electric Horseman involves the title character's journey to set a champion racehorse free. At one point he rides the horse and outruns police vehicles.
- As mentioned in the comic section, Odin's eight-legged horse is briefly shown in Thor. This version is black, however.
- The special relationship between The Lone Ranger and Silver was one of the things the latest incarnation got basically right, if exaggerated.
- In Jean Cocteau's Beauty and the Beast, the Beast sends Belle's father home and has her come to the castle in his place by means of a magical white horse, Le Magnifique, which can take its rider anywhere they wish to go.
- There's a number of Cool Horses in Romance of the Three Kingdoms the most well known being Red Hare who was capable of running a thousand leagues in a day and wouldn't let anyone ride him until Lu Bu and then Guan Yu proved themselves worthy.
- He and others also appear in the Dynasty Warriors series and is the fastest of them all and once unlocked anyone can ride him. Even Xiao Qiao
- Orlando Innamorato and Orlando Furioso feature Bayard, a Sapient Steed who can stretch to fit four riders, Rabican, a flying horse born of wind and fire, and the original hippogriff.
- Black Beauty. This horse is not only the main character of one of the best-selling books of all time, but is the protagonist of the first story that was ever told in first person narrative from the point of view from an animal, kick-starting an entire sub-genre of animal stories. His story led to more responsible use of the bearing rein (which was then often used to hold a horse's head in an unnaturally high and uncomfortable position) and is also believed to have made a difference in reducing the taxicab license fee of the time, something that was often exploited by those that hired out cabbies to drivers. He also had an in-book Crowning Moment of Awesome when he refuses to cross a bridge that he instinctively knows is dangerous, saving himself and his two passengers by doing so.
- Max Brand westerns feature a number of these. The most "superequine" is probably Dan Barry's horse Satan (from The Untamed and Dan Barry's Daughter), whose ability to perform an athletic leap while exhausted after days of hard riding is so impressive that a poor farmer, a dead shot, who's hoping to collect a massive reward on him, instead leaps to his feet, waves his hat, and yells "Gawd bless ye!". His loyalty is doglike and his intelligence and thought processes are almost human (Brand, whatever his gifts as a storyteller, does not show much understanding of animal psychology). Diablo from Bull Hunter and Sky Blue from Lucky Larribee are others.
- Although usually The Alleged Steed, Rocinante has moments of this.
- J. R. R. Tolkien's Middle-Earth (The Silmarillion, The Lord of the Rings, etc) has a LOT of the beasts, both of the slightly super-horsian as well as the Badass Normal variety: First, there is Nahar, ridden by the Vala Oromë, the first and coolest of cool horses. The Mearas, a rare breed of super-horses, kept by the Rohirrim (whose culture revolves around horses) besides their regular horses; the most famous individuals are Felaróf, the steed of Eorl, and Shadowfax, the steed of Gandalf. And there are lots of regularly Badass Normal horses. ...and so on.
- There is an entire race of cool horses in the The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, known as the Ranyhyn.
- Perhaps based on the Houyhnhnms of Gullivers Travels; the latter are a subversion, they're beautiful and have an orderly, intellectual society, but they're also racist, smug and lack compassion.
- Kelpie from Loyal Enemies are extremely durable, fast and capable of lifting heavy weights. The best thing about them, though, is that they walk on snow instead of wading through it... no matter how many kilograms you put on them. As the action of the book takes place in winter, this is absolutely useful.
- Binky from Terry Pratchett's Discworld.
- Death's other horses are perhaps cooler (one is a skeletal steel, the other is made of fire) but were somewhat impractical due to their tendency to fall apart and ignite their bedding respectively.
- In Going Postal, we also see Boris — a Hellish Horse without the look but with enough personality to make up for it; Boris is, literally, aimed at the destination where, upon arrival, Moist von Lipwig has to look for somewhere soft to land. Boris won't stop... Also, the Golem Horses.
- The titular animal from Piers Anthony's On A Pale Horse, who turns into a Cool Car. Seriously.
- With a name like Mortis, what can you expect??
- Not to mention Sequiro from the Mode series, the unicorns from Apprentice Adept, and many other equine creatures...definitely an Author Appeal.
- The Night Mares.
- For a Heralds of Valdemar example of a Cool Horse that's really a horse, try the Shin'a'in battlesteeds: as smart as a smart dog, incredibly loyal, able to survive on even the worst feed, and faster than anything on four legs — except a Companion.
- The Sothoii coursers in David Weber's The War Gods series.
- Bree and Hwin in The Horse and His Boy talk, although whether that makes them cool or just irritating is up for debate.
- Certainly it makes Hwin cool; her speech is what persuades Aravis not to commit suicide.
- In the David Eddings series The Malloreon, there's Chretienne, who's given to Belgarion by 'Zakath after they become friends.
- Horse is also pretty much a Cool Horse, given that he's Touched by Vorlons and can apparently travel through Subspace or Hyperspace or something. And is the mount/BFF of Eriond, future God.
- The Belgariad also features a species of insane carnivorous horses with claws instead of hooves. One of the characters is disappointed at being unable to ride one, until it's pointed out that carnivorous horses might not be a great idea for a culture built entirely around herding cows.
- Faran, from The Elenium and The Tamuli also by David Eddings, is the incredibly intelligent and capable companion of Sparhawk the Knight. Their relationship is less than one of perfect compliance and involves the kind of trickery and coercion one might actually see in a strong-willed horse. Faran acts like he has a bad temper exclusively because Sparhawk actually likes him to act that way.
- Melynlas, Taran's horse in Lloyd Alexander's Chronicles of Prydain, was not excessively badass but was extremely loyal — so much so that when he was stolen, Taran was able to prove his ownership by being the only person the horse would allow to mount him.
- His mother, Melyngar, was the prized mount of Taran's friend Prince Gwydion, and she was quite the quadroped badass.
- Parodied with Rocinante, Don Quixote's horse. Let's just say Rocin=horse in bad shape.
- Morgenstern, Julian's horse from The Chronicles of Amber. Specially crafted out of Shadow to be made of awesome.
- In Journey to the West, the dragon prince Yulong Santaizi transforms into a white horse for Xuanzang to ride. He stays a horse most of the time and doesn't have a huge role otherwise, but transforms back a couple times in dire situations.
- Zorro's horse, Tornado (or Toronado in some versions).
- The book series The Black Stallion is built on this trope.
- The Wheel of Time:
- Lan rides an impressive warhorse called Mandarb, which means "blade."
- Bela, the old cart horse, is the only character aside from Rand al'Thor to appear in all eleven books so far and has become an Ensemble Dark Horse.
- Dragon Bones and its sequel feature a few cool horses, the coolest being Stygian, a battle steed ridden by the main character who is vicious, bad tempered and killed the main character's Father. The most awesome part is that the main character immediately renames his badass, evil, ugly horse that everyone wants to put down as Pansy. Other characters are not amused.
- From Chivalric Romance, Beves of Hampton has a horse not only rather fast but capable of recognizing him.
- Jack Aubrey's fine Arabian mare, Lalla, from the Aubrey-Maturin novels.
- The rathorns in P.C. Hodgell's Chronicles of the Kencyrath are a combination of Hellish Horses and unicorns.
- All the post-Immortals horses in Tamora Pierce's Tortall Universe books. Since they have heightened intelligence thanks to Daine, it makes them all the more Badass. Peachblossom, Kel's battered warhorse in the Protector of the Small quartet, practically defines this trope. If you try to pet and/or mount him and your name isn't Kel, Tobe, Stefan, or Daine, he will either bite your arm off or try really hard to.
- Two centuries earlier, in the Provost's Dog books, Lady Sabine's warhorses Drummer and Steady. Try to hurt their lady, get kicked in the head repeatedly. Try to stop them from getting to their lady when they've figured out that she's in danger, watch the whole stable staff get killed. They're also trained to detect common poisons by smell and will refuse any meal that's suspect. So it's not that surprising when Pounce confirms Lady Sabine's family has magic similar to Daine's that specifically works with horses.
- Thaouka in Jules Verne's The Children Of Captain Grant.
- The Hunnuli, in Mary Herbert's Dark Horse series: Big, powerful, distinctive in appearance unless magically disguised, fast as hell, resistant to magic, and telepathic.
- Blackjack from Percy Jackson and the Olympians. Also Rainbow the Hippocamp (ie: literal sea horse). Mrs O'Leary is a giant hell-hound but she can be ridden through shadows (don't try it if you're afraid of the dark). From The Heroes of Olympus, we have Arion and Tempest (a storm spirit who happens to look and act like a horse).
- A Song of Ice and Fire
- Stranger, Sandor Clegane's warhorse. Huge, black, powerful, and viciously savage, he's gentle as a lamb with Sandor but will lash out at anyone else who gets near him. Notable victims include two hapless priests, one lately left with a broken leg and the other short an ear. He's named after the much-feared god of death and outcasts, which has particular relevance to the misanthropic Sandor.
- Dany's silver is a beautiful mount of exceptional quality, bred by a warlike equestrian culture who never name their mounts.
- Dilvish the Damned's Black was a demon in horse form.
- Jimmy Hedgecock's Black taught chickens to dance in Gunfighter's Ride.
- Mad Amos's horse was a bad tempered unicorn with the horn filed down.
- In Robert E. Howard's Conan the Barbarian novel The Hours of the Dragon, Xaltotun's chariot is drawn by "weird horses." When he dies, they bring the chariot and, when someone puts the body on board, carry it off.
- Ryshadium from The Stormlight Archive, are bigger, stronger, faster, and smarter then normal horses, and they are also pseudo-Bond Creatures, they chose their own riders and are apparently picky about it, there are only a dozen men in all the Alethi warcamps that have one.
- Ryshadium are so grand that many characters compare upgrading to one of these horses as being similar to a knight going from plate to magical Powered Armor.
- Hob and Pearl, from Douglas Hill's Blade of the Poisoner and Master of Fiends. Sure, they're just ordinary horses—and Hob looks more like The Alleged Steed—but they're both written as being rather smart and tough.
- Athansor, from Mark Helprin's Winter's Tale. (an angel in horse form trying to leave Earth).
- Thunder in Septimus Heap.
- The unicorns from The Firebringer Trilogy are a race of Bad Ass warriors who regularly take on (and defeat) large predators such as gryphons and wyverns. Notably, their initiation ritual involves making a journey to the very heart of their worst enemies' homeland to drink from a magical pond.
- Epona in the Novels Of The Change. A toned-down example, but she's a top-notch destrier, she ages much more slowly than a normal horse, and only the character mantled in Prophetic Significance can ride her without getting horribly maimed.
- Being stories about adventures in Wild West era, Karl May's stories featured quite a lot of Cool Horses, including in them Hatatitla, Ilstchii, and purebreed Arabian horse, who Winnetou claimed "Even Manitou couldn't ride a better horse than this". Hatatitla and Ilstchii are black stallions of Apache breed that are all of extraordinary quality, and they have the finest specimen. The antagonists in the movie adaptations tend to covet them and try to steal them from our noble heroes.
- Rex — from Lovely Assistant by Geoph Essex — is both a Cool Horse and a cool horse. While he doesn't actually speak to Jenny, he makes his every sarcastic opinion perfectly clear (especially whenever she attempts a dismount). Plus he's, you know, indestructible and really fast. (Presumably, the other Grim Reapers' horses are the same way.
- A Hero of Our Time has Karagyoz, 'Black-Eye', Kazbich's mount that's achingly beautiful, faster and more endurable than any other horse, able to jump over impossible distances, and follows Kazbich around like a dog. Everyone wants to own it; Azamat offers Kazbich first a thousand mares, then his sister for Karagyoz, and Kazbich considers neither offer to be good enough.
- Doctor Syn ("The Scarecrow") has a great black stallion named "Gehenna" which he bought from local gypsies. One might almost accuse him of trying too hard to qualify for the trope.
- In Seijuu Sentai Gingaman each Ranger had their own horse, except the Sixth Ranger who had a giant biomechanical bull. The horses showed up in Power Rangers Lost Galaxy but only for one episode.
- Mystic Force has the most badass. An untameable horse that had a habit of running rampant through town breaking stuff was snatched to the Underworld to serve Koragg, and now turns into a zord that he can summon and combine with when he goes giant.
- The Power Rangers Samurai can use Symbol Power to summon up horses to ride on.
- Garo Makai Knight that defeats 100 Horrors and passes a test earns ability to summon a powerful horse made out of metal.
- In The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr., Brisco's horse Comet has an almost human level of intelligence. He even manages to unlock a combination lock!
- Roy Roger's Trigger.
- Chico from Queen of Swords.
- Argo, Xena's steed in the Xena: Warrior Princess series was pretty fantastic.
- "Blackadder, Blackadder, he rides a pitch-black steed..." In The Black Adder it goes by the name of Black Satin.
Mythology and Religion
- In Norse Mythology, Odin's horse Sleipnir has eight legs and can fly. And Loki is his mother. Try not to think about that too much.
- Older Than Feudalism Cool Horses in Classical Mythology:
- Poseidon's hippocampi and Helios' fire steeds.
- Xanthos and Balios, the immortal horses owned by Achilles in The Iliad.
- Pegasus, the winged horse of Bellerophon.
- Bucephalus, the steed of Alexander the Great,; the raging black stallion that only he could tame. Alexander even named a town after him.
- Romance of the Three Kingdoms: Lu Bu's personal steed, Red Hare, increased his already badass legend, and then Guan Yu's when he inherited it. Red Hare was such a Cool Horse that Lu Bu murdered his step-father to get it.
- Celtic Mythology:
- Morvarc'h, the coal-black steed of the legendary Breton king Gradlon. Morvarc'h could swiftly gallop across the tops of ocean waves as if he was running on dry land.
- Grey of Macha and Black of Saingliu, twin steeds of Cuchulainn. Born at exactly the same time as their master.
- Enbarr of the Flowing Mane was another water-walking horse, owned by (fittingly) the ocean god Manannan Mac Lir.
- In King Arthur legends, Sir Gawain had a part-supernatural-being horse, Gringolet. (Also called Kincaled depending on who you ask.)
- The four horses of the Apocalypse. After all, you've gotta be a pretty damn cool horse to put up with riders like War, Pestilence, Famine and Death.
- The The Shahnameh has Rakhsh, tamed by the Persian hero Rostam because he's the only horse in the world strong enough to bear his weight.
- Burāq, the steed of the prophets according to Arabic(not Qur'an) tradition which is able to travel through the seven heavens and back to Earth in two days. Normally just getting to the first heaven takes seventy three years.
- Middle Eastern mythology is full of legends about the prized Arabian horses. Many involve races across great distance in the desert where the horse turns up to a destination, right as rain... with a rider dead from exhaustion/starvation/thirst.
- Stranger still, some of these stories may be true. There's a reason Arabians dominate endurance races and that riders fail health checkpoints as often if not more often than their horses do.
- The Al Khamsa, the five mothers of the Arabian breed, the story goes Muhammad took 500 mares out into the desert after about a day he allowed them to drink for an oasis but wend they were half way their he recalled them all, only five went to him.
- The Lone Ranger's horse, Silver, who appears in every adaptation of the story (television, film, comic books, etc.) He even had his own comic book at one stage.
- To a less extent, Tonto's own horse, Scout, qualifies too.
- In the animated version that ran in the '60s, Silver once pulled the Lone Ranger out of quicksand — reaching his head back to grasp in his teeth the coiled lasso hanging from the saddle (is that even anatomically possible?), he flung the loop end into the Ranger's hands (the other end was already tied to the saddle). It'd take Lassie or Rin-Tin-Tin to top that!
- Dungeons & Dragons, as usual.
- Paladins have a special ability to summon a "special mount." This grew until they can get an epic mount from outer planes that is attuned only to them. It doesn't have to be a horse per se, but it usually is. And until Third Edition, a Paladin could only summon the thing once every ten years.
- Considering Paladins need every stat but Intelligence, there is a very good chance that the paladin's mount is smarter than they are.
- Of course, with Paladins often being cast as Lawful Stupid, that shouldn't come as too much of a surprise.
- Nightmares in Dungeons and Dragons are a fiery option for the Evil Counterpart of paladins, the Blackguard.
- Unicorns and Celestial Chargers (Half-Celestial Unicorns) are also out there.
- There's also the pegasi, the hippocampus, griffons, hippogriffs, riding dogs, dinosaurs, worgs, dragons... Asperi and comet steed. There's no shortage of creatures to ride around on.
- Eberron has magebred horses, and the Valenar have horses descended from ancient druids.
- Rifts also has a couple of these, such as the Psi-Pony and Megahorse, plus several Horses Of A Different Color, and even Mechanical Horses.
- Archaon the Evechosen from Warhammer had Dorghar, Steed of the Apocalypse.
- Prince Tyrion rides Malhandir, the Father of Horses. It has a move of 12 which means it can charge 24... The same range as an arrow from a longbow.
- Imperial Guard roughriders in Warhammer 40,000 ride into battle with lances tipped with high explosives, against all kinds of aliens, demons, giant robots, and so on. While the horses themselves don't get much love, they must be pretty cool to deal with that.
- The Iron Kingdoms have some of their own — namely the Karpathan destriers bred in the harsh north of Khador, quite possibly the biggest, strongest and meanest breed of horse in Western Immoren. These things can ride into battle with full heavy barding while carrying a large man wearing a suit of extremely-heavy, steam-driven Man-O-War armour.
- My Little Pony is perhaps the best example for toys, being an entire line of miniature multicoloured horses, often with accessories and magical powers, all aimed entirely at preteen girls.
- Epona, Link's steed, particularly in The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess; she's so beloved by fans of the series that she's practically the Trope Codifier.
- Game Freak and Nintendo also give us the Pokémon Ponyta and Rapidash, which are horses with flaming manes and tails. Blitzle and Zebstrika are native to Pokemon Black And White's Unova region; as the name indicates, they're electric zebras. Keldeo is a water-type unicorn Pokémon.
- Agro from Shadow of the Colossus. She shrugs off so much abuse, she must be the 17th Colossus.
- Given the sheer size of that thing, it may be true. Agro is larger than some draft horses.
- Toward the end of the game, Agro falls into a huge crevasse, a fall that would most definitely kill the player. After the final battle, it is revealed that she is still alive, and she has managed to limp her way over a mile back to the temple.
- Super Robot Wars: HASHIRE, TROMBE!
- Boko from Final Fantasy V who carries three people at once while jumping over pits during an earthquake.
- In Prince of Persia 2: The Shadow and the Flame, a horse statue comes to life, and it lets the Prince ride through the air in a couple of cutscenes.
- Paladins in World of Warcraft can learn to summon a cool horse at level 30. The Alliance Paladins (Humans, Dwarves, Draenei) get one with gold and blue barding, while the Blood Elf (Horde) paladins get one in bronze and red.
- At level 60, Alliance paladins go through an epic quest chain to get an Even Cooler Horse, which has horns and glows gold. Blood Elves go through a different quest (which involves desecration of a church and the massacre of its guards, no less) to get one that glows red and looks like it feeds off kitten blood.
- Warlocks learn to summon a flaming steed at level 30. At level 60 they have an epic quest to learn to summon an epic, flaming, scaled, horned steed.
- Death Knights will get a spectral horse with flaming blue hooves.
- Plus there are cool horse drops from bosses — Deathcharger (a skeletal horse with purple barding) and Midnight (which has flaming green hooves and buckteeth... okay, not so cool).
- The Headless Horseman's horse, a spectral mount with flaming green hooves, who can run on air.
- You can buy (with real money) a Cool Winged Horse from Blizzard online store.
- The Forsaken have Cool Horses as their default racial mount: they're skeletal, ghoulish steeds decked out in tattered gear and sporting the Glowing Eyelights of Undeath. The level 40 variations include tarnished armor and twisting horns.
- The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion has Shadowmere, a ludicrously fast immortal black mare with red eyes, who, if you let her, will thoroughly kick the shit out of any enemy in-game. You could also knock her out and store an infinite amount of items in her, effectively making weight limits on what you can carry pointless.
- There is also a freaking UNICORN! Which Hircine gives you a quest to kill, but if you refuse you can keep it as a mount.
- The sequel, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim has Shadowmere again, who has since become something far more than just a normal horse.
- From Skyrim's third DLC comes Arvak, a skeleton horse who glows with purple flames. As a summoned creature he is also functionally immortal.
- The horse armor DLC too... Although that wasn't really the best armor, or DLC for that matter...
- Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater. The Boss rides around Cold War era Russia on an Andalusian for absolutely no apparent reason aside from being too damned Badass for normal transportation. Plus, Naked Snake loves horses so much, he wants to... do stuff to it.
- Helios's fiery steeds in God of War are all lesser gods.
- And Poseidon's Leviathans, they're a part of his god form.
- And Chrono's steeds. THEY'RE A HUNDRED FEET TALL AND MADE OF LIVING STONE!!!
- Ruin from Darksiders is the horse of War. It's a black horse with hooves and fetlocks of fire.
- The sequel gives us Despair, the mount of choice for Death. Instead of Ruin's red motif, Despair has a greenish-blue colour scheme.
- Ixion from Final Fantasy X is a damn awesome unicorn, once you get past that horrific, scythe-like horn that takes up half his face. And the exposed ribs/musculature. And the lightning powers that mean running away would be futile since he'll just electrocute you to save time.
- ...so in other words, a damn awesome unicorn.
- The player gets a magnificient horse in Red Dead Redemption. If you're in a foul mood you can even shoot and skin it! Taken Up to Eleven with the Undead Nightmare expansion pack. Not only are there four "Horses of the Apocalypse" running around, trailing things like locusts and fire, but if you break 'em all in, you get a chance at the ultimate mount: a unicorn. A unicorn that emits a cloud of butterflies when it's grazing and leaves a rainbow behind it as it runs.
- The second stage of Shinobi III begins with Musashi riding a horse to the sound of Itaden while fighting enemy ninjas who come from giant kites. Musashi also rides the horse alongside the sunset at the ending.
- The Lord of the Rings Online allows you to buy and ride a horse (or a pony, if you're a hobbit or dwarf) after buying the Riding skill for Turbine Points (or if you're a VIP, after you've gotten the skill through a quest gotten at level 20). They're a very nice way to get around Middle-Earth in general.
- In Borderlands 2, Handsome Jack, resident insanely rich Big Bad, taunts you over the ECHO network that he has recently bought a horse made of diamonds, because he's rich. And it's an actual, living horse made of diamond, which he names Butt Stallion, in honor of you.
- In Tiny Tina's Assault on Dragon Keep, Butt Stallion is the queen that you're trying to save.
- The carriages in BioShock Infinite are pulled by robotic Steampunk horses.
- Cool Horses are the entire basis of pet game Valley Of Unicorns.
- Windstriker, Miko's horse, in The Order of the Stick. See above about paladins and D&D.
- Shiratz (actually an AI) and the G.E.M.'s in UNA Frontiers.
- Takan'dor, Arid's huge, jet-black war horse in Planes Of Eldlor.
- Vane's mount Diamonds in Next Town Over, who is already a hardy horse before becoming a zombie cyborg horse.
- Looking for Group has the Bunny, which served as a mount for Richard when he was transformed into a baby (a "Little Dick," if you will).
- In Rusty and Co., parodied. Note: do not send the Gelantinous Cube to get your horses.
- In American Barbarian, Uli realizes that of the three of them, the horse acted the smartest.
- In Our Little Adventure, Emily's Phantom Steeds get their coolness -- and limits thereof -- discussed at length.
- In Sinfest, the winged horses Tangerine and 'nique watch in the tree.
- Suzie's loyal steed Popcorn in Zombie Ranch may not have the most badass name, but despite his rickety appearance he's survived shotgun blasts, tramplings, and who knows what else. It probably helps that he's been undead the whole time.
- Adventure Time has Lady Rainicorn.
- Lemon Horse, too. C'mon — the uncanny resemblance it has to Lemongrab is just awesome!
- Sir Slicer's horse from 'Blood Under the Skin'
- Rainbow Brite had Starlite, who was "the most magnificent horse in the universe" — at least, according to him. Well, he could talk and fly (okay, technically he walked on rainbows) and had rainbow colored hair.
- Then there's Skydancer, Stormy's horse. Though he couldn't talk, he could fly unaided, and when he ran he trailed rain and lightning shot from his hooves.
- Parodied with Twinkle the Marvel Horse on Dave the Barbarian, who has the technicolor hair and flowery tack of your average girly fantasy pony, but talks like Christopher Walken and speaks endlessly of his morbid dreams about screaming maggots of death and doing unmentionable things to penguins.
- Arguably Appa, from Avatar: The Last Airbender. Not a horse, but a huge, 10-ton, six-legged flying bison. With an arrow on his head. How is that not awesome?!
- Honey Pie Pony and the other Strawberryland fillies from the 2003 version. Apart from Honey Pie Pony, some appeared in the series, while others did not.
- There was also "Maple Stirrup" in the 1980s version.
- Which got a passing mention in a game the 2003 series version (to be specific, mentioned in one of the story books in the GBA game Ice Cream Island Riding Camp).
- Princess Gwenevere and the Jewel Riders (or Starla and the Jewel Riders, depending on where you live) is an example of this trope (with Sunstar, Moondance and, in season 2, Shadowsong).
- The "cybersteeds" in Adventures of the Galaxy Rangers.
- Galtar rode a horned, blue horse-like creature named Thork, who was brave and strong and intelligent.
- Horace Horsecollar.
- Bravestarr has the ever-loyal Thirty Thirty. Though technically an equine alien, he could shift between a bipedal and quadrupedal form with ease and carried a BFG called Sara Jane.
- Wildfire, from the series of the same name
- She Ra Princess Of Power: She-Ra had Swift Wind, a winged unicorn who could talk. Swift Wind's alter ego was an ordinary looking horse called Spirit. However, even as Spirit he was strong, clever and still had the ability to speak.
- Played with in the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic episode "A Dog and Pony Show." The fact that Equestria is populated mostly by ponies usually keeps the characters from being considered this trope in-universe, but this doesn't stop Spike from trying to ride Twilight into battle to save Rarity (complete with a "Hi-ho, Twilight! Away!"). Twilight is not amused.
- Of course, this does not prevent Twilight from indulging him anyway.
- Spike also once tried this with the horses pulling the carriage taking the gang to the Grand Galloping Gala. Caramel and Lucky Clover weren't very amused.
- Race Horses:
- Phar Lap, probably one of New Zealand's (or Australia's) most famous celebrities. There are unsupported allegations that he was so fast that when he was brought to the US, he was poisoned by the mob.
- Makybe Diva. Don't laugh at the name, she won the Melbourne Cup three times in a row.
- Surpassed by Black Caviar, the Australian filly who has now retired with a 25-race winning record.
- Man o' War, who ran twenty-one races in his two-year racing career, and won twenty of them. The one loss was due to being faced the wrong way when the race started, and even then he caught up from dead last to finish second. He set three world records, two American records and three track records, and was the sire of the also-famous War Admiral and the grandsire of Seabiscuit. Towards the end of his second racing season, almost nobody was willing to race their horses against him, even with Man o'War carrying absurdly heavy handicap weights; had he raced for a third season, he would have had to carry a heavier handicap than any horse has in the official history of racing.
- Seabiscuit himself, of course, the short, funny-looking horse with an underdog background and winner of some amazing races who became a national icon during the Great Depression.
- Secretariat was so awesome, ESPN named him as the 35th greatest athlete of the 20th century. No, really. His trainer said that he displayed an almost human-like curiosity, frequently looking up at planes passing overhead, and upon his death, it was discovered his heart weighed 22 pounds (10 kg) — more than twice as large as an average horse of comparable size. How many other racing sports do you know of, in which a major long-distance world record still stands that was set in 1973? (Secretariat's 2:24 in the Belmont, which he won by thirty-one lengths.)
- Zenyatta, a five-year-old Thoroughbred mare who is undefeated, tied for the longest winning streak in the history of modern bookkeeping (19), and the defending champion of the Breeders' Cup Classic, arguably the most important race in American Thoroughbred racing. Not only is she the defending champion of that race — she is also the first filly or mare to win it. Ever. Even her first and only loss (her last race, also the Breeder's Cup Classic), counts as a Crowning Moment of Awesome. After lagging EIGHTEEN LENGTHS for most of the race, and while having dirt kicked in her face, she made possibly the most spectacular run to finish second by the slimmest nose ever. She was in front of the winner, Blame, one stride before the wire, he pulled slightly ahead, then she passed him again one stride after it. Cooler still, she then went on to win Eclipse Horse of the Year over the only horse to defeat her on the track.
- Eclipse, the most famous racehorse in history. Born during a solar eclipse, he raced and won eighteen times and his bloodlines run in every top-quality racing horse in the world. Like Secretariat, he had the "X-factor" — a larger-than-normal heart.
- Cigar. 33 starts, 19 wins, 4 places, 5 shows. He earned more than eight million dollars, and had a sixteen-race winning streak that included the Breeder's Cup Classic.
- The longest winning streak in thoroughbred history belongs to Kinscem, a plain (even ugly) bay filly foaled in Hungary in 1874. She raced across Europe against males and females and was undefeated in fifty-four starts. To cap it, Kinscem produced several daughters who while not quite as successful as their dam were still winning racehorses and successful broodmares. She even has a park named for her in Budapest, a statue in her honor, is still a Hungarian national heroine, and reportedly was once stolen by gypsies — when caught and confronted about why they stole the ugliest filly in the stable, they said that the others were just horses, this one was going to be special. She even has a kidnap story! Kinscem was a very Cool Horse.
- Personal steeds and warhorses:
- Bucephalus was the horse of Alexander the Great, and supposedly a huge black stallion that could not be tamed by anyone but the 13-year-old prince. Because of his unusually big head, he got the rather unglamorous name "Ox-head".
- George Washington had his trusty steed, Nelson.
- Toes the horse(s) of Gaius Julius Caesar. The original mount was given to him as a joke as it had an odd mutation where it had splithooves and therefore could not be shod or ridden effectively. Caesar bred a line of warhorses off him.
- Babieca, famous warhorse of the Spanish hero Rodrigo Díaz de Vivar (a.k.a. El Cid). Legends have it that when the Cid died, his corpse was strapped to the horse and sent charging into battle. (Of course, nobody bothered asking Babieca if he was cool with the idea.) Babieca is also said to have lived to the age of at least sixty.
- Trigger, Roy Roger's horse. According to The Other Wiki, he knew 150 trick cues and is considered the most famous horse in film history. In fact, Golden Cloud (his original name) appeared as Maid Marian's palomino mount in 1938's The Adventures of Robin Hood prior to being cast as Trigger. Now that is a Cool Horse!
- Although not a horse, Simpson's donkey Duffy may count. During WWI, at the battle of Gallipoli, she helped Simpson carry wounded Australian soldiers back to the trenches for treatment. When Simpson was eventually sniped by the Turks, she carried on with him and the wounded soldier on her back.
- Matsukaze, the legendary horse of the legendary samurai Maeda Toshimasu, better known as Maeda Keiji. Matsukaze was said to be bred from the finest bloodlines, but was so wild that no one could ride him. Through unknown means, perhaps because he was rather wild himself, Maeda Keiji managed to tame Matsukaze and they were inseparable from then on. Matsukaze was said to be incredibly strong compared to other horses and could carry his master's large frame for days. It is also said that when Maeda Keiji died Matsukaze ran away and was never seen again.