"Good bird-horse-thingy."Evolution being what it is, alien worlds (or Earth time periods far removed from the present day) are bound to have different forms of animal life from our world. The people there, however, are usually just like us, or close, and would therefore develop different breeds of livestock to fill the same needs. And one of those major needs is for animals that fill the niches that horses fill on Earth: basic transportation in areas where mechanical transport is impractical, unknown, or expensive; or prestige transportation in areas where mechanical transport is cheap and easy. Horse-replacements may also be used as draft animals. Of the types of creatures available, large flightless birds are probably the single most common type of horse-replacement. Two-legged fast dinosaurs come up frequently. To replace the larger draft animals, vaguely ox-like creatures and large lizards seem to be popular, and some may be Mix-and-Match Critters. Evil, bloodthirsty races will often use a giant form of a common predator, like a wolf. Cats are a mixed bag; they are predatory, and notoriously disobedient, but both heroes and villains can be seen riding them, and performing great feats of sure-footed trick riding. A flying creature that can be trained, and can carry a man, is truly the holy grail of animal husbandry. Most fantasy settings have at least one, either a scaled-up version of a currently existing creature or something from prehistory or mythology. Dragons are especially popular in this department as are Gryphons and Pegasi. For maximum Speculative Fiction cred, try having the mount not even being made of flesh and blood. In video games, these often become a Power-Up Mount. Named for a pun in The Wizard of Oz, although that was an actual horse that, as the name suggests, kept randomly changing color. Compare Call a Rabbit a "Smeerp", when the animal actually is, for all intents and purposes, identical to a real-world animal. Super Trope of Kangaroo Pouch Ride and Seahorse Steed, and sometimes Domesticated Dinosaurs. For actual horses (or other animals) with unusual colors, see Amazing Technicolor Wildlife. Nothing to do with the album of the same name by the country group Big and Rich.
— Sokka, Avatar: The Last Airbender
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Flightless Birds and Other Bipeds
Anime and Manga
- Last Exile has some very chocobo-esque flightless birds. Although they were never used as mounts they replaced horses as the animal of choice for racing.
- In Maze Megaburst Space, a two-legged brown dinosaur is the preferred cavalry mount.
- Horseclaws are giant flightless birds used as rides in Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind (and inspired the above-mentioned chocobos). Nausicaa also features another type of unusual mount, referred to as Warbeasts, which are something like giant, shaggy dogs with cow horns and lizard-like feet.
- What look like giant ducklings are used as mounts in One Piece's Kingdom of Alabasta.
- Panzer World Galient: In the world of Arst, people rides horned, bipedal critters that look like a wingless bird mixed with a dinosaur.
- In Samurai 7, some people ride around on giant turtle-like creatures. With shells.
- Trigun has the Tomas, weird cross-breeds between ostriches and non-avian dinosaurs.
- Gungrave also has the Tomas, which, while not featured as a primary mount, are used instead of horses for racing purposes. Mostly just a Mythology Gag owing to Yasuhiro Nightow creating both series.
- Yu-Gi-Oh!: In Kaiba's in-universe virtual reality video game, the characters ride Niwatori (giant flightless birds), which some of the characters call giant chickens.
- Dog Days has cellkulls, who are about as close to chocobos as you can get with violating copyright. They normally can't fly, but can be granted that ability through the use of seal spells.
Films — Animated
- In Rango, they ride non-sentient roadrunners.
- The Leafmen in Epic ride hummingbirds into battle, while the Boggins prefer Creepy Crows because they are more tolerant of decay. They also can ride on bats due to their leader's ability to imitate the cry that bats use to locate others of their own kind. However, the bats aren't actually loyal to the Boggins; in one scene, a Leafman knocks a Boggin off his bat and takes the reins, and the bat has no complaints. Birds such as sparrows are considered inferior to hummingbirds, and are generally used only for racing.
Films — Live-Action
- The Wizard of Oz takes it to a Literal Metaphor, as the Gatekeeper states that the purple horse is "a horse of a different color!"
- Ostriches were ridden in The Swiss Family Robinson. (Truth in Television: Ostrich jockeys have races in Arizona every year.)
- Star Wars: Tauntauns, a bipedal mammal, are the mount of choice on the ice planet Hoth.
- The planet Tatooine has several native species seen being used as mounts or for haulage: Tusken Raiders favour the bantha, dewbacks were used by Imperial Sandtroopers, and ronto are used by Jawas, although it has been suggested that ronto were imported from Nubia rather than native to Tatooine.
- Flinx in Alan Dean Foster's Humanx Commonwealth novel For Love Of Mother-Not rides a stupava riding bird through the soggy forests of Moth, where its partially webbed feet come in handy for the muddy terrain.
- The Gaunt's Ghosts novels had birds called Struthids used as cavalry on one of the planets; the general description made them look like the bastard child of cassowaries.
- Horses do exist in Terry Pratchett's Discworld, so when some Mad Max-style raiders trying to get at Mad the dwarf's water supplies show up in The Last Continent riding and/or being pulled by a variety of things that are very notably not horses (including an emu, as described by someone who has never heard of such a thing), it's mostly to illustrate how utterly insane Fourecks is.
- The Rudewood's hotchi in China Miéville's Iron Council ride oversized chickens. They also use these oversized, highly aggressive roosters in gladiatorial cockfights.
- The Seanchan of The Wheel of Time series have, among other things (see other sections), corlm, creatures like large ostriches with brown fur instead of feathers, although these are used mainly for hunting rather than as mounts.
- In the last book of the Malazan Book of the Fallen the K'Chain Che'Malle — bipedal, sentient Hive Mind-inclined dinosaurs — serve as mounts for their human allies. They are even capable of changing their physique to better accomodate their human riders, e.g. by creating a saddle out of their own flesh.
- In Ragnarok Online, the standard animal of monture are giant birds called Pecos, not unlike Chocobos. They are limited on use to one class job, however (even if the things are also in the wild and can be captured as mascots). Although with third jobs, Wargs, Griffons and the dragon-like Ferus are now both also fair game.
- Blood Elves in World of Warcraft ride flightless, vaguely ostrich-like birds called Hawkstriders. Often referred to as Chocobos by fans.
- Gnomes get robotic ostriches called Mechanostriders.
- Every race but the humans have their own kind of non-horse mount (except maybe the Forsaken, who use undead horses), and new factions have frequently introduced new types, not to mention all the flying mounts. Interestingly enough though, all class-specific mounts are horses or rather look like horses but largely have otherworldly origins, being more explicitly summoned by respective spells (Dread Knight mounts are undead, Paladin mounts divine spirits, Warlock mounts demonic).
- Tauntauns can be acquired as a mount in Star Wars: The Old Republic.
- In The Elder Scrolls Online, guar (a large reptilian creature used as pack animals and cattle) and senche-tigers (a variety of tiger) can be obtained as mounts, in addition to horses.
- In Final Fantasy XIV, naturally, your first mount is the series staple chocobo, which can also be trained to fight at your side as a Companion. The Heavensward expansion added flying chocobos (as in other games in the series, they are black), but also allows your companion chocobo to learn how to fly. In this setting, chocobos of any color apparently aren't flightless by strict definition, they just aren't living in environments where its necessary for survival.
- Striders - similar to riding birds, but scaly and butt-ugly - are used as mounts by the Kang of Talislanta, and their smaller, feistier cousins, marsh striders, by the Jhangarans.
- Warhammer Dark Elves and Lizardmen ride theropod-like creatures known as Cold Ones.
- Warhammer 40,000:
- The Kroot (descended from avians) use a degenerate member of their species known as Knarloc as ill-tempered baggage carriers that can easily defend themselves. The Greater Knarloc is used exactly the way a creature looking like a hybrid between a terror bird and a T Rex should be used. Krootoxen are used similarly, but despite the name look more like flatbeaked gorillas that can punch through tanks.
- Exodite Eldar ride into battle on megasaurs.
- Halflings in Dungeons & Dragons Eberron campaign setting ride two kinds of bipedal dinosaurs, called fastieths and clawfoots. note
- "Axebeaks" (Phorusrhacos, more or less) have featured in several editions of Dungeons & Dragons. (Pathfinder seems to have shrugged and openly presented them essentially as predatory chocobos.) White Wolf's Scarred Lands setting had "tent birds," a desert-dwelling variant with supernaturally heat-resistant feathers that could use its huge—albeit still flightless—wings to shelter itself and its hatchlings (or its rider).
- In Rocket Age Bahmoots, velociraptor-like reptiles, are used as beasts of burden on Mars, while the Silthuri use a three and a half metre tall bird called the Royal Karn to pull their chariots. Fanthir are feathered lizards which run on two legs and are used as mounts by the Venusians.
- Anima: Beyond Fantasy has "red ostriches" in Eurakia. Given the strong influence of Final Fantasy on this game, they're more than likely to look like chocobos.
- Rock steeds in BIONICLE are bipedal dinosaur-relatives ridden by desert bandits. For some reason, however, the movie The Legend Reborn had them acting exactly like actual horses.
- The various world-settings in the Final Fantasy series use a type of giant bird called a Chocobo as a riding mount. Some variations of them can fly (usually black), though most of them are ground-based. Travelling on one is faster than just walking, and usually avoids running into random encounters. Final Fantasy VII also includes chocobos that can run over water, oceans, and mountains, but you have to breed them first. Final Fantasy IX has chocobos with similar capabilities, the catch being that it's actually all just one chocobo that you can keep upgrading throughout the game. You can eventually have it gain all of the capabilities of the gold chocobo from VII and if you boost it to the max, it can even fly
- Super Mario Bros.: Yoshi, to the point of being referred to as such (though in a rather derogatory fashion) by the popular Lets Player, raocow.
- Early in Rogue Galaxy, the hero is seen riding a sort of skeletal mount called a Yago. Apparently they must have some meat on them because a sand worm eats one at the end of the first chapter.
- Strangely, the Pokémon Doduo and Dodrio — based off of ostriches — can learn Fly in the games. The anime makes a clever justification when Falkner's Dodrio makes a leap that makes it look like it is flying, though the birds are usually ridden as land mounts when seen. Though Awkward Zombie suggests a different way that they could fly.
- The character Yellow of the Pokémon Special manga is fourteen years old, but she is small enough to ride Dodrio's unevolved (juvenile) form, Doduo.
- There are undead units in Battle for Wesnoth which ride skeletal 'chocobones' which are a clear parody of the Final Fantasy birds.
- Lunar: Eternal Blue also makes no effort to hide the parodic nature of the 'Chuckuboo.'◊
- Abe in Oddworld: Abe's Oddyssey can ride a strange, Ugly Cute creature named Elum in certain areas. The manual describes him as "Cranky, stubborn, and smells like a burst sewer pipe, and those are his good points. Fortunately, chicks dig him."
- The first Jak and Daxter has the Flut Flut, a tropical bird that Jak rides on in certain levels. However, its flightlessness is due to the fact that it's a baby, so it's fair to assume that a full grown Flut Flut would be more of a Giant Flyer. Jak 3: Wastelander, meanwhile, has the Leaper Lizard, which despite being a dinosaur/dragon-like creature is, well... A Flut Flut of a different colour in essence.
- The Cralluck in Star Trek RPG materials; an Acamarian flightless bird.
- Giant mantises take the place of horses in Telepath Tactics, probably as a nod to the setting's tropical climate. A Cool Old Lady says she's had hers since she first joined the army, which implies they have roughly human lifespans.
- In Theta vs Pi 7 there are etas (literally eta symbols who act as horses). In the final land, you finally get to ride one and discover they can walk on quicksand.
- Alice and the Nightmare's Cinnibar Army's mounts are over-sized riding dogs.
- The Adventures of Dr. McNinja's Yoshi the velociraptor.
- Suss Birds in Harkovast fit this trope, as do the Bataks and Histoos.
- In Seekers the winglings ride chickens.
- The Water Phoenix King has saddle-broken zebras and "bicorns," which are exactly what you'd expect — large ungulates with two straight horns on their heads. And a riding robot bug.
- Charby the Vampirate has a variety of horse alternatives including llamas, riding dogs and manticores
- Ostrich-Horses in Avatar: The Last Airbender seem to be the transportation of choice in the Earth Kingdom.
- The main characters in Highlander: The Animated Series ride a kind of large bipedal animal in many episodes.
- In Wander over Yonder, the eponymous character's mount Sylvia is a Zbornak, an alien with an earless, vaguely horse-shaped head and a body like a theropod dinosaur. She's also blue with a pink mane and tail tuft. Oh, and she's sapient too.
- Ostrich riders, though they (the ostriches) tend to be pretty unhappy about people riding on their backs, making them impractical for any use other than recreation. They also have an unfortunate habit of losing their riders. Professional horse jockeys describe them as "like riding a giant football".
- Emus have been used as mounts in much the same manner.
Anime and Manga
- Chiyo-chan in Azumanga Daioh is so small, she can comfortably ride Mr. Tadakichi, a Great Pyrenees, to Sakaki's envy.
- Which was probably inspired by the novel and Japanese anime series Belle and Sebastian, where the latter, a small boy, would often ride on the back of the enormous Belle (also a Great Pyrenees), as they traversed the French and Spanish countryside in search of Sebastian's mother.
- In the Magic World of Mahou Sensei Negima!, the mount of choice appears to be dinosaur-like reptiles such as the one Makie rode while buying groceries for the bar she worked in.
- While Akamaru the dog from Naruto is as small as most dogs before the time-skip, he grows to the size of a pony over the course of 2 and a half years. His owner, Kiba, uses him as a mount occasionally post-timeskip.
- Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind features "Warbeasts", which are something like giant, shaggy dogs with cow horns & lizard-like feet.
- In The Croods, it isn't institutionalized (as this is before the domestication of animals), but by the end of the film the new-and-improved caveman family have adopted unusual animals as mounts; the father gets a saber-toothed cat that had been their enemy for much of the film, the daughter and her boyfriend ride an owl-cat that was originally an enemy, the feral baby is riding on a dog-reptile, and the lunky son is bouncing around on a land-whale. The animations during the credits show one of them riding on a "classic" flightless bird as a bonus.
- Malek Khorshid: The king grabs a lion by the mane, hits it on the head, and then rides it like a horse.
- In the Mouse World of Epic, Mandrake the Boogin rides a star-nosed mole. To the Leaf Men and their insect and slug associates, it's a formidable snaggle-toothed beast.
- In How to Train Your Dragon and its sequel, the... well, the title of the film says it all, really.
- Goblins in The Hobbit ride on Wargs — huge, intelligent, evil wolves.
- In S.M. Stirling's and David Drake's The General series of SF novels, the stranded inhabitants on the fallen colony of Bellevue ride genetically engineered giant dogs instead of horses. The native wildlife (Velociraptors) was hostile enough that horses weren't considered viable, but a 1200-pound Doberman the size of a draft horse was. Biological implausibilities were gleefully ignored although it's mentioned in passing that modifications were made to their spines to enable them to bear the weight of a rider.
- The 1987 Ardath Mayhar/Ron Fortier After the End collab Trail of the Seahawks also featured giant riding dogs (and giant mutant foxes that could be trained as mounts).
- Another series with dog mounts was Mike McQuay's painfully sucky duology of Pure Blood and Mother Earth. But McQuay felt the need to call them "woofers" for some reason.
- C. J. Cherryh's Finisterra series of novels has creatures called nighthorses that could be easily mistaken for horses, except that they are telepathic foul-tempered carnivores whose group behavior is based on being pack hunters. In contrast to herbivorous horses' tendency to form groups for protection, nighthorses formed groups for attacks. The implications of this are shown in the stories in such a way that it becomes quite plain that nighthorses are not just differently colored horses.
- You wouldn't expect Mechwarrior, BattleTech's tabletop RPG, to feature these, but they do. Played straight with the tabiranth, an alien big cat that takes surprisingly well to riders. At about eight and a half feet long, four and a third feet tall at the shoulder, and over five hundred pounds, tabiranth are essentially riding tigers. Averted with the other noted alien riding beast, the Odessan raxx. In spite of looking like a six-legged elephant-sized monitor lizard, it is actually an implied herbivore, explicitly noted to be a Gentle Giant, and an extreme Mama Bear to boot.
- The Skybax Riders of Dinotopia, who train and fly on huge Pterosaurs, rest very proudly in the realm of the Rule of Cool.
- The Inheritance Cycle is all about this.
- Dragon Riders are fairly widespread in fiction, to the point of being savagely parodied in Terry Pratchett's 1983 The Colour of Magic
- Speaking of Discworld, herons and buzzards qualify as "giant flying steeds" if you're a gnome.
- And one of the Nac Mac Feegle has a hawk as his steed of choice.
- The tarns (large flying birds used as steeds) of John Norman's Gor novels.
- In J. R. R. Tolkien's Middle-earth stories (The Lord of the Rings, etc.), Sauron's Ringwraiths ride the wyvern-like flying 'fell beasts'. There are also the giant eagles have been known to give people rides. Notable example, Gandalf's escape from the tower of Orthanc.
- Harry Potter: There are a number of different breeds of winged horses (based in part on the legend of Pegasus and Bellerophon), according to Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. Hogwarts employs thestrals, probably the least horse-like breed (they look part-dragon, for one). Then there are the hippogriffs, first seen in Prisoner of Azkaban.
- In one of Baron Munchausen's tall tales, the Baron tames and rides a roc.
- In the Dorian Hawkmoon trilogy by Michael Moorcock (also known as the History of the Runestaff), there are flamethrower-wielding warriors who ride giant flamingos.
- The Seanchan in The Wheel of Time series have, among other things (see other sections), raken and to'raken, large bird-like creatures used mainly for scouting and surprise attacks.
- In the Sugar Rain series, characters ride 'horses'. This functions to emphasize that English is really a 'translation' when a rider settles in for the night he gives the 'horse' a feedbag of meat.
- The Worldbreaker Saga by Kameron Hurley has various cultures fielding bear and dog cavalry (for additional weirdness the bears have forked tongues).
- Gdon, or Dawon, is a sacred tigress in Tibetan and Hindu mythology that is ridden by the goddess Durga.
- The Greek goddess Cybele rides a chariot drawn by lions.
- Games Workshop games:
- Goblins from Warhammer, and their Grot successors fro the sequel game Warhammer: Age of Sigmar, ride a variety of large predatory beasts into battle. These mounts range from the giant wolves ridden by regular goblins and grots, and the giant spiders used by forest goblins and spiderfang grots, to the more unusual cave squigs (creatures consisting of little more than balls of fungus, teeth and nasty temperament) that night goblins and Moonclan grots cling desperately cling to.
- In Warhammer, certain Elf princes can ride to battle on white lions and, along with humans, can tame and ride griffons. Dark Elves use huge carnivorous lizards called nauglirs as mounts.
- In Warhammer 40,000 some veteran Space Wolves ride Thunderwolves into battle. These massive lupine predators, native to the Space Wolves’ homeworld of Fenris, are fast and powerful enough to bare their space Viking Super Soldier riders into battle with ease.
- "Riding dogs" are common mounts for small characters in many Dungeons & Dragons settings.
- Battle for Wesnoth's goblins use wolves as mounts.
- Empire factions in Elemental - War of Magic may use wargs (giant wolves, unsurprisingly) as mounts for their soldiers, assuming they can find any. Heroes of either faction may purchase and ride warg mounts. If you want your badass leader to ride into battle on top of a white wolf, then why the hell not? Warg Knights are not horses and oxen as we know them, but are instead descendants of each respective species.
- In Dragon Quest VIII, a sidequest earns you Baumren's Bell; an item which allows you to summon and ride sabretooth tigers on the Western continent.
- In Warcraft III, the Orc Raider units, and their Hero, Thrall, make use of rather large wolves as mounts. The game's Night Elf faction also includes munted warriors riding large predatory cats such as Panthers and White Tigers.
- In Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor, you can ride Caragors and Graugs into battle. Graugs apparently are not trolls, but they do vaguely resemble them.
- People, particularly military cavalry, in Queen at Arms ride reindeer instead of horses.
- If the Dragonborn DLC has been installed for The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, the player character can learn the ability to ride dragons.
- Avatar: The Last Airbender: Like in many other fantasy worlds, in ancient times Dragons were used as mounts, before they were hunted to near extinction. In the Sequel Series The Legend of Korra their numbers seem to be recovering, if Zuko's pet dragon Druk is anything to go by.
- Also in The Legend of Korra there's Naga, Korra's Polar Bear-Dog, a beast the size of a polar bear with mostly the personality and appearance of a very large dog, who can carry three people at one with reasonable speed.
- The Pirates of Dark Water was set on a world without wide-open spaces of dry land. Flying critters called Dagrons (small dragons, really) were the ride of choice. Turns out they had a secret.
- Giving their trainers rides or pushing them through the water is a standard exercise for performing orcas and pilot whales. Bottle-nosed dolphins aren't strong enough to haul a full-sized human around the training-tank for more than a lap or two, but pairs of them working together can carrying a clinging human a fair distance or even lunge out of the water with a trainer hanging between them.
- Huskies and other sled dogs aren't ridden, but they pull sleds.
- On the Carta Marina of 1539, there is an armed troop of "Scricfinns" ("Skiing Finns", meaning Saami) riding to battle on reindeers.
Anime and Manga
- InuYasha: Sesshoumaru's preferred mount for his followers is something that can only be described as a two-headed dragon-horse in what might have been inspired by certain types of kirin imagery.
- In Princess Mononoke, the hero of the story rides what is referred to as a "red elk," but looks more like a (slightly modified) siberian ibex. Not only can the beast comfortably carry a rider, but is so so strong that he can do that kind of animal's graceful leaping so burdened.
- In Tsubasa -RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE-, the peoples of Shura and Yama ride on four-legged creatures that bear a slight resemblance to dragons but which are the size of horses. They are used as mounts in battle.
- All over the place in the Star Wars Expanded Universe. From the Tauntauns of Hoth, to the Dewbacks of Tatooine and lizard-like Varactyl of Utapau, any planet inhabited by sentient aliens will be guaranteed to have domesticated and rideable exotic beasts of burden of some sort.
- The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck: Scrooge McDuck has established his badass credentials several times with these. When he was left for dead in the South African Savanna, he went berserk against all the animals trying to eat or kill him and cowed a lion into becoming his steed. In Australia, he encountered an Emu and used it instead, at least until it ran off from an approaching flood. In the Klondike, he has used moose for transport on more than one occasion. In Hearts of the Yukon, we also briefly see a rider arrive into Dawson City on a bear—but even he's scared of Samuel Steele.
- In the Mickey Mouse comic story Iceberg let us alone, a tribe of Inuits living in a cave network inside an enormous iceberg use walruses as riding animals (though the comparison with horses is a bit far-fetched — we never see any walrus galloping, they seem to walk slowly as normal walrus would.
- White Sand has tonks, horse-like creatures made of sandstone-esque substance, with segmented body, feet rather than hooves, rhino horns and armadillo-like tails. They're used as mounts ubiquitously in desert parts of Dayside, but their skin melts on contact with water, so they're absent in Lossand oasis.
Films — Animated
- Along with flying animals, the characters in Epic have been seen to use other mounts. The leader of the senselessly evil Boggins uses a star-nosed mole on one occasion, though this may just be due to his status as resident Beastmaster rather than that being a normal Boggin mount. On the good guys' side, the heroes take a ride on a deer—which is ABSURDLY large compared to them—though this is not considered typical either.
- The fairies from Strange Magic are small enough that Roland can ride an armored squirrel, despite the fact that he can, y'know, fly with his own wings.
- In Frozen Sven the Reindeer serves as Olaf's main mount.
Films — Live-Action
- Avatar's Na'vi also ride fa'li, or "direhorses", six-legged, nectar-drinking horse-things.
- The Dark Crystal had Landstriders, long-legged beasties with stinger tongues.
- The racing snail in The Neverending Story movie.
- The inhabitants of Dirt from Rango primairly use bats, roadrunners, and peccaries as horses.
- Star Wars had several; Tauntauns on Hoth, Dewbacks and Banthas on Tatooine, Baby Dinosaur Ponies...ahem, Kaadu...on Naboo, etc.
- The Hobbit presents a Megaloceros deer-like steed Thranduil rides on during the film's prologue. Later, Radagast's sledge is pulled by rabbits...Sled Dogs Of A Different Color? The leader of the Dwarf army rids on a large boar, while a number of other dwarves ride giant rams.
- During Thor, when the god of thunder needs to leave town, he walks into the most logical place to look for transportation: A pet shop.
Thor: I need a horse!
Pet Shop Clerk: We don't have horses. Just dogs, cats and birds...
Thor: Then give me one of those large enough to ride!
- Buffalo Rider features Jake Jones, an Old West outdoorsman who rides a buffalo.
- In Julian May's Saga of the Exiles, the mount of choice for the Tanu dwelling in Earth's prehistoric past is the chaliko- short for chalicothere. Chalicotheres are extinct relatives of horses, rhinos, and tapirs. (Unfortunately they're also generally pretty slope-backed and have a gait that really wouldn't work well at all on a riding animal. Oh well.)
- The thoats and zitidars used as mounts in Edgar Rice Burroughs' Martian/Barsoom stories featuring Captain John Carter of Virginia.
- In Neal Stephenson's The Diamond Age, the upper-class transport of choice is the Chevaline, which is a kind of robot horsey with a vestigial knob for a tail.
- In Dune the Fremen ride the sandworms of Arrakis. Great-worms and lesser-worms are used in teams to pull a chariot.
- The Duel of Sorcery Trilogy featured rambuts (something like talbuks, or possibly Yakkul) and macain (reptilian mammals, or mammalian reptiles, that hatch from eggs and resemble ornithopod dinosaurs).
- H. Beam Piper mentioned in Four-Day Planet that most people in the Terro-Human Future History universe believe (incorrectly) that horses are extinct. The narrator mentions having seen "so-called Westerns with the cowboys riding Freyan oukry."
- The Weber/Ringo collaboration that is the Prince Roger series has a species referred to variously as 'flar'ta' and 'pagee', described as a hexapedal triceratops, almost. They are herbivorous, and mostly placid, although there is a related species ('flar'ke' or 'pagithar') which is far more aggressive (the analogy drawn is to Cape buffalo). The flar'ta fills much the same role as an elephant- pack animal, mount and occasionally war beast. There are also the civan that are used as cavalry mounts. They are described as horse-ostriches, and are two-legged, omnivorous, scaly and have a vicious streak about two miles wide.
- Older Than Feudalism: In True History by Lucian, the king of the Moon rides on a vulture-horse.
- Taylor Anderson's Destroyermen trilogy has domesticated elephant-sized dinosaurs which the U.S. destroyer crews, not knowing the "brontosaurus" was actually an apatosaurus, think of as miniature brontosaurs and call "brontosarries."
- In "The Atlantean Age", a setting book for Fantasy Hero, the Tellat Empire fields units mounted on "battledons" — take a rhino, make it 50% bigger, and add extra horns, claws, and bad attitude. Meanwhile the Hazarians look almost normal with their knights in plate armor riding giant wolves.
- The Planet of Adventure series by Jack Vance has "leap-horses" as the native substitute quadruped. They have heads resembling a horned tapir and exaggeratedly long necks as shown here◊. As their name implies their motion is more of a bounding motion that a horse-like gait. All in all riding one sounds like a fast-track to lower back problems.
- Creatures called "chimelos," which may or may not be dromedaries, are used as mounts by desert-dwellers in Infanta.
- John Maddox Roberts's Stormlands series has "cabos" (the word is implied to be derived from the Spanish caballo; essentially four-horned horses) and "humpers" (basically camels, only with horns and tusks).
- The Lorini in Star Trek: Ex Machina use animals resembling protoceratopians as beasts of burden.
- The Hokas in The Earthman's Burden use large, dinosaur-isque lizards as mounts. Particullarly apparent in the first story, in which the influence of the Wild West has even led them to call them "ponies".
- Gargants in Jim Butcher's Codex Alera series, are mentioned in the first book, but, aside from being the size of a freakin' minivan, not described until the second. Word of God says they are related to giant ground sloths (which went extinct sometime around the end of the Ice Age in real life).
- In books five and six, we see Canea, the Canim homeland, and their riding beasts the "taurga" [singular "taurg"], creatures that are depicted as fairly bull-like (with some rabbit-ish features), extremely large (they're cavalry for wolf-warriors that can reach 9 or 10 feet in height, with proportional weight), incredibly ill-tempered, and enthusiastically omnivorous.
- The Myth Adventures series has featured some pretty bizarre mounts, including the hiphippohippus (think: rhino slimmed down for agility) ridden by Aahz in "Myth-ter Right", or the many-legged armored beast (think: glyptodont with millipede feet) used by the Ta-hoe team's rider in Myth Directions.
- Asides from the above mentioned Skybaxes of Dinotopia, dinosaurs are also frequently seen being used as mounts.
- The Dying Earth series of Jack Vance featured "oasts", huge humanlike primates whose riders sat on their shoulders. On at least one occasion, the hero Guyal was chased by a mounted troop on these creepy things.
- In his speculative non-fiction book Profiles Of The Future, Arthur C. Clarke pondered possible future transport innovations. One of his more fanciful ideas was that genetic engineering might produce a new riding animal superior to the horse: a miniature elephant that could use its trunk to open doors, handle packages, etc.
- In Andre Norton's Ice Crown and other works, duocorns take the place of horses. (With, as you may guess, two horns.)
- The Stormlight Archive's world of Roshar has extremely Hostile Weather, so the main draught animals are large crustaceans called Chull that can hide from the storms in their shells. Horses exist, but they have to be imported and are too expensive for everyday use.
- Discworld: The Hogfather rides a sleigh pulled not by reindeer or little pink pigs but four gigantic boars.
- Aahz of the Myth Adventures series is too squat-bodied to comfortably ride a horse, so when he participates in a ritual hunt as security, he's given a hiphippohippus (similar to a skinny rhino) as a mount. The rider for one of the opposing teams in Jahk's Big Game was mounted on an armored hump-shaped creature with thousands of very tiny legs underneath, and no evident head or sense organs.
- In Petty Pewter Gods, the Shayir pantheon's original believers were the Ox-Riders of Gritn. As their culture is long extinct, it's unclear if anyone in Garrett's world still rides oxen.
- It's not clear what the "horses" in The Carpet People by Terry Pratchett actually are, but given that they have compound eyes that change colour when they're frightened, and are ridden by people to whom a matchstick is an unending wall of wood, they certainly aren't horses.
- The Safehold series by David Weber has an interesting variation. Dragons (massive hexapedal reptiles the size of buses) are used as heavy draft animals. Unlike most examples, they aren't replacing any terrestrial animal. Instead, dragons can haul loads no terrestrial critter could, making it practical to bring some truly titanic cannons on campaign.
- The Stormlight Archive:
- Horses exist, but they can only be found in one secluded corner of the continent, making them extremely valuable everywhere else. Nobles use them for travel and cavalry charges, but one of the most important parts of warfare is getting the horses out of the way immediately after their charge, because they're too valuable to leave in danger. The standard beast of burden is the chull, a placid giant crustacean with a rock-like shell that can be carved into a seat. They are slow and stupid, so many characters find horses far too intelligent and dangerous to bother riding.
- Then there are the Ryshadium, bigger and stronger horses that may or may not be sentient in their own right. They are intelligent enough to choose their own riders and refuse to accept any other. They need very little care, since they mostly look after themselves, but they are more rare than Shardblades and Shardplate.
- The Dinosaur Lords uses, unsurpringly, dinosaurs of all stripes, mostly hadrosauruses and deinonychuses, although larger beasts such as T-rexes, triceratopses or various sauropods are also ridden in and out of combat.
- The MMOG Ultima Online has an array to choose from. Bipedal dinosaurs without front arms called ostards, llamas, ki-rins, and giant beetles are among the choices.
- Gaia Online has a few mount options, mostly from the Wild Things set. The Roc is pretty obviously a chocobo knockoff, and the other Wild Things are a wolf (Fenrir) and a tiger (Khan). In addition, the Fallen Wish item has a serpentine dragon that you can ride, and the Kelp o' the Loch gave you a proper horse... as well as a hobby horse.
- The Defiant faction in Rift can get vaiyuu (which look like a cross between an Oviraptor and an antelope) and mechanical horses. And that's only a sampling of the weird mounts in the game.
- The Warcraft series, particularly World of Warcraft, features such a wide variety of mounts that listing them all would be impractical. For starters, each of the ten playable races has a distinctive basic mount, ranging from undead horses to mechanical ostriches to elephant-like elekks. In fact, humans are the only race that gets an actual honest-to-goodness horse. Then there are the various flying mounts, starting with griffons and giant furry bats and later progressing to sporebats, drakes, miniature helicopters, hippogriffs, etc. Lastly, Wrath of the Lich King introduced a variety of new land and flying mounts including mammoths, proto-drakes, flying carpets, motorcycles, and turtles; not to mention achievements for acquiring as many mounts as possible. The highest of these requires 100 mounts, and grants as its reward ... yet another mount.
- It's worth noting that pre-release promotional material for the Burning Crusade expansion referred to the Blood Elf mount as a Cockatrice; eventually, however, someone at Blizzard realized that introducing a creature with "cock" in its name into a game largely played by teenagers and immature twentysomethings was just asking for trouble. They were renamed Hawkstriders.
- Elekks look more like pyrotheria than elephants, really.
- Averted by the Worgen race. They don't have their own mount, they just run around on all fours.
- The gods of most religions often have some unusual mounts. Examples include the golden boar of the Norse god Frey, the dragons who pulled the chariot of the Titan Kronos, and most Hindu gods ride an animal that has particular symbolism.
- Other than the aforementioned Podog, in Gamma World there also is the Hopper (a giant mutant jackalope who is as dumb as a brick), the Centisteed (a horse with a whole lot of legs, as well as bug-eyes and antennae) and the incredibly odd Pineto (think of a cactus plant merged with a horse, and you'll get the idea).
- In Dungeons & Dragons' Eberron campaign setting, the Kingdom of Breland is famous for their bear cavalry. As a certain image macro says: "Bear Cavalry: Yeah, you're pretty much fucked.◊"
- Unless you have Cat Snipers.
- Or are a halfling, in which case you ride freaking dinosaurs.
- The standard steed in the Dark Sun setting, a kank, is a giant beetle.
- Riding dogs (read: big, working breeds) are a very common mount for Small characters.
- D&D has several entries under every category of this trope, so it's worth pointing out that you can ride essentially anything in this game under the right circumstances, including a gelatinous cube.
- Warhammer 40,000:
- Tons of these: cyber-horses, boars, cyber-boars, giant lizards, daemons that look like weird worms or giant slugs or metal rhinos...
- In addition, the chief source of meat in the Imperium is the Grox, a large, rather ill-tempered lizard-like creature.
- As usual it's overshadowed in the sheer awesome department by its sci-fi brother, but Warhammer Fantasy also has a variety of fantasy mounts. The Greenskins have the greatest variety — the Hobgoblin hordes ride wolves, the Orcs have their boars, and the Goblins ride giant (pony-sized) spiders. The Lizardmen can use their nonsentient reptile brethren as artillery platforms.
- In the furry RPG Ironclaw, since horses are a playable race, they have a variety of domesticated dinosaur-like reptiles. The ones intended for riding are named after varieties of horse, i.e. palfries look like struthiomimuses while destriers are more like utahraptors.
- Magic: The Gathering: Various creatures have turned up riding, among other things, the deer-like "cervins", the lion-like "leotau", flying manta rays, wolves, griffins, oxen, giant cats, robot gargoyles the size of houses, several kinds of giant bug, dinosaurs, copper-tusked boars, birds and whatever the hell this thing is.
- In Rocket Age Bahmoots, velociraptor-style reptiles, are used as beasts of burden on Mars, while the Silthuri use a three and a half metre tall bird called the Royal Karn to pull their chariots.
- Goblins in Pathfinder ride goblin dogs... which is a case of Non-Indicative Name, since they're actually giant, disease-carrying hairless rats.
- In Age of Wonders most mounted units ride horses or wolves, but the Lizardmen are the most unusal ride giant frogs. There are also specialized units which ride giant eagles, wyverns, giant moles, and giant beetles.
- Before she became an expert Miko and learned to fly on her own, Reimu Hakurei used to mount an intelligent, talking, flying turtle named Genji.
- The Legend of Zelda has a number of examples:
- In The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, the protagonist serves as a mount to his Ninja Butterfly while he is transformed into a wolf. Link himself rides a horse (or a ginormous boar on occasion).
- The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword introduces Loftwings, large birds almost the entire culture of Skyloft is build around.
- Link is at it again in The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. Besides the usual horses, there's Stalhorses, (skeletal undead horses) deer, desert-going seals chariot-style, mythical mountain king ghost deer, one of his Rito allies, and bears. And in some parts of Hyrule, Bokoblins ride bears, turning them into full-blown Demonic Spiders.
- Tales of Symphonia has all three:
- Noishe, the party's overworld mount, is a giant white green dog with massive ears. Who's deathly afraid of monsters. And in one of the skits is speculated to be an ancient ever evolving creature.
- Some enemies are seen to ride oversized raptors called "Velocidragons".
- Actual dragons are sometimes trained as mounts, and the party even rides them at one point.
- Flynn from Tales of Vesperia uses a horse-like monster with reptilian traits as a steed in one scene. The same variety of monster is also seen being used to tow merchant caravans in Tales of Xillia.
- In the first Grandia game, there was promotional material as well as small cameo in the game proper of a large, long-legged turtle which was used as a mount. Unfortunately, you don't get to ride it at all, and disappeared after one town.
- Onmyōji: There's Yama-usagi who rides a giant one-eyed frog, and then there is Mōba who rides a goddamn tea pot. With legs and fangs.
- Pokémon X and Y allows the use of Pokémon such as Gogoat and Rhyhorn as steeds. Rhyhorn lets you cross otherwise impassable rocky terrain, but Pokémon riding is mostly limited to a diversion in a few spots in the game.
- Pokémon riding returns in Pokémon Sun and Moon, where you can register various Pokémon to your Ride Pager to call up when you need them. It plays a bigger role than in X and Y, replacing the HM moves of the previous games (Surf, Fly, Rock Smash...) as the way to move past obstacles. You can ride the bull-like Tauros to move fast and smash boulders, the huge dog Stoutland to sniff out hidden items, the plesiosaur-like Lapras to move over water, the draconic Charizard to fly between certain spots on the map, the huge horse Mudsdale to cross rocky terrain, the shark Sharpedo to move fast and smash boulders in the water, and the four-armed humanoid Machamp (which carries you in its second pair of arms) to shove boulders out of the way.
- In the multiplayer mode of Red Dead Redemption, the player can unlock mounts other than horses and donkeys, including a bull, a zebra, and the American bison. In the Undead Nightmare DLC, you can ride the Four Horses of the Apocalypse (only one at a time, though).
- World of Warcraft
- A different creature serves as the basic mount for each playable race, but other races can obtain their faction's racial mounts later on.
- In addition, many more mounts are available as various rewards in the game plus various flying mounts, plus constant new additions available and a variety of limited edition and promotional ones. Wolves, dinosaurs, giant bats, giant lizards, ostriches, dragons, big cats, sheep, pretty much all bases are covered somewhere.
- Horde players technically couldn't even ride (non-demonic or undead) horses until the Argent Warhorse was introduced late in Wrath of the Lich King.
- A lot of this dates back to its RTS roots, such as the sabre-cat mounts prefered by the night elves, orcs riding giant wolves, tauren using kodo beasts (giant lizards) as pack animals etc. Likewise, the basic flying mount for both factions (and the one used for flight paths well before that) have made their first appearances in the RTS.
- Rift has a similarly eclectic line-up, including everything from ordinary horses to monitor lizards, Mechanical Horses, giant squirrels, a creature resembling a huge floating blue glaucus, and a sort of hybrid of antelope and oviraptor.
- In a Homage to the Mega Man arcade games, Shadow Man rides a frog in Bright Man's stage in Rockman 4 Minus Infinity.
- In Dragon Age: Inquisition, the player can ride mounts for the first time in the series. These include horses, harts, dracolisks, giant nugs, and other exotic mounts. Of particular note is the "Bog Unicorn", a possessed zombie horse whose "horn" is a sword shoved into its skull. The horsemaster finds the nugs particularly disturbing since they have hands.
- In Sins of a Solar Empire, some planets are described as having "Native Megafauna" improving commerce (presumably by using these beasts as pack animals across the planet).
- The Trader Of Stories has husks, oxen of another colour (they look like a dinosaur crossed with an armadillo).
- Heroes of Might and Magic III has wolf riders and, with the first expansion, boar riders.
- In Heroes of Might and Magic V every faction except Inferno has a different mount for their heroes: wizards go to war on the backs of elephants, elves on unicorns, dark elves on T-rex-like monsters, human knights on ordinary horses, necromancers on skeletal demonic steeds, dwarves on mammoths, and orcs on giant bulls.
- In Gems of War, some of the goblins ride into battle on boars.
- Mo' Creatures: In this Minecraft mod, besides various horse hybrids and fantastic equines such as unicorns, regular and dark pegasi, fairy horses, nightmares, bat horses and skeletal and zombie horses, a number of tamable creatures can be ridden if given saddles. These include manticores, all big cats, wyverns, ostriches, bears, scorpions and komodo dragons. Finally, Wild Wolves can spawn with a zombie, skeleton or silver skeleton riding them.
- Total War: Warhammer: A fair amount of unusual creatures are used as mounts by the various armies, both as general cavalry and as the steeds of Hero Units.
- The Greenskins are all over this. Orcs ride war boars and their Warbosses can ride wyverns. Goblins can ride giant wolves or giant spiders. The King and the Warlord, which introduced a number of Night Goblin units, brought Night Goblins who ride squigs, spherical fungoid creatures provided with a giant fanged mouth, strong hopping legs and nasty attitudes.
- The main human factions, the Empire and Bretonnia, get gryphons, hippogriffs, demigryphs (which are wingless gryphons) and pegasi.
- The Vampire Counts can ride massive — as in dragon-sized — undead bats known as Terrorgheists, as well as actual undead dragons.
- The Warriors of Chaos have a unit mounted on a manticore, in addition to a two-headed mutant dragon as a steed for their hero units.
- Wood Elves can ride on giant hawks, unicorns and elk, and their lords can ride giant eagles and forest dragons.
- Unique mounts for Legendary Hero Units include Karl Franz's giant gryphon Deathclaw, King Louen Leoncoeur's hippogriff Beaquis and Azhag the Slaughterer's wyvern Skullmuncha.
- One sequence in MOTHER 3 has Lucas and his dog riding a four-legged coffee table that gallops and even neighs like a horse.
- Dwarf Fortress: Your dwarves can't ride anything, but sometimes a besieging army will have cavalry units. There are dozens of species a rider might choose from, depending on their race, ranging from normal horses to the outlandish elk bird. The mounts are not necessarily well trained, however. One piece of advice given regarding fortress defense is that it's better to leave a moat dry and deep than to flood it, because some of the mounts used by goblins can and will swim. The goblins themselves, on the other hand...
- Drowtales has Dawmere/Unicorn, horse-like animals, that have cloven feet and short fat horns on their head, they are more akin to donkeys or mountain goats then horses. Real horses exist, but are rarely if ever used by the titular Drow, as they are unsuited for underground conditions.
- Erfworld is home to a broad variety of mounts, including spidews, dwagons, gwiffons, unipegataurs, megalogwiffs, tankeroos (kangaroo-formed cloth golems), elephant-formed cloth golems, and a glass golem which appears to actually be in the form of a horse.
- Megatokyo gives us the Rent-A-Zilla whom Yuki Sonoda takes to riding once her Magical Girl abilities really start to kick in. Largo has made use of them in this way, too.
- Doodze features a squirrel. (Not a giant squirrel. Doodzes are tiny.)
- Uncreation features the centitrains, which are giant centipedes that (unsurprisingly) function as trains. They even have the ability to seperate like train carriages - by ripping themselves in half and then regenerating a new head out of the wound.
- Being based on Dungeons & Dragons, The Order of the Stick likes this trope quite a bit. Belkar's wiener dog, Hinjo's dire wolf Argent, Xykon's zombie silver dragon, Lien's shark Razor, and Redcloak's summoned fiendish mammoth all get play during the Battle of Azure City alone. The demon roaches even lampshade it when riding a raccoon.
- Astray3 has bird-like creatures usable as mounts as well as a whirling bug creature that pulls carts.
- The Denizens (Living Shadow minions) in Sequential Art tried to ride a platypus for fun.
- Adventure Time: Both ordinary horses and horses of a different color can be found in the land of Ooo, among them a a yellow lemon camel ridden by the manic and over-reacting lemon person, Lemongrab.
- The topper is an ordinary horse being ridden by a creature that is a cross between a rainbow and a unicorn. (Who is usually herself ridden.)
- And then, of course, there's James Baxter.
- Buggalo (giant ladybugs) in Futurama are the equivalent of cows.
- He-Man and the Masters of the Universe (1983): He-man's typical transportation is Battlecat, a giant tiger.
- One episode of The Powerpuff Girls had the girls invaded by giant broccoli aliens after they spiked the town's broccoli supply with Mind Control spores that left all the adults incapacitated, leaving the girls and the kids to confront the green threat. As part of their vegetable motif, the broccoli king rides a carrot-shaped mount.
- Avatar: The Last Airbender:
- The Sky Bison are giant, intelligent six legged oxen with beaver tails that could fly, and were used by the Air Nomads as flying mounts. The Fire nation hunted them into extinction alongside their masters, and now only one member of their species — Appa — is believed to be alive. As of the Sequel Series The Legend of Korra, however, a new colony of Sky Bison has been found, which gives hope that the species can be repopulated.
- An episode had Azula and friends riding giant basilisk lizards, complete with a scene where they run across the surface of water.note
- The Fire Nation uses Komodo rhinoes as heavy cavalry.
- In Mercedes Lackey's Valdemar novels, the Hawkbrothers sometimes ride on dyheli, which are something like sentient wapiti.
- People have tamed zebras and managed to ride them before, but it is more impractical than horses because of their temperament and because zebras have less speed and endurance than horses. Zorses (zebra-horse hybrids) are somewhat more practical as mounts.
- Reindeer are the only deer that can be said to be domesticated. They can be ridden or trained to pull sleds or carriages.
- Oxen are ridden occasionally.
- Donkeys of course.
- Mules and hinnies each technically fulfill half of this trope.
- It's often ignored that horses were in fact not known in the Fertile Crescent at the time the first civilizations arose there, and donkeys were the only equivalent found for a long time in their native Egypt. Some also believe that the ancient Sumerians experimented with onager-led chariots before horses became available.
- Asian elephants have been used as mounts for thousands of years, although more as beasts of burden than long-range transport. African elephants are far less manageable, although some individual animals will allow a familiar human keeper to ride them.
- Camels, for both one-humped dromedaries and two-humped Bactrian species. Llamas have been ridden as well, although their foul temper makes them impractical as mounts.
- Because they're a lot bigger and stronger than horses, camels were used as battle mounts in the Middle East for centuries, able to cross terrain that would kill a horse and to run in full barding. Some even carried small cannons on their backs to serve as the first highly-mobile artillery units.
- Elks (moose for American tropers) can be tamed and ridden.
- Also true of a few hand-reared bison.
- Here are some examples, including mounted elk, yaks, llamas and ostriches and elk-, pig-, and ostrich-driven chariots and carriages.