"A horse, or something built around the same general plan, was coming down the street at a hard gallop. Its hooves did not make the pocking noise of iron horseshoes. Bud realized it was a chevaline — a four-legged robot thingy."A Horse of a Different Color indeed — and an entirely different nature. Combining the coolness of a horse with the tireless reliability of a machine, the Mechanical Horse is, at its most basic level, a motorbike with legs. (If it doesn't have legs, see My Horse Is a Motorbike.) The Mechanical Horse will usually be a robot, but some Steampunk universes feature clockwork horses. The idea is not quite as ludicrous as it sounds. Biological horses can walk on vastly more kinds of terrain than a wheeled vehicle (not to mention they are perfectly amphibious), and it would be quite useful if there were a machine that could do the same thing. But engineers find it very challenging to overcome all of the problems with moving around on legs, on any uneven surface, without falling down. As an odd example, the US military once funded experimentation into a "walking truck", a horse-like machine designed as an all-terrain mount and transport. (It looks really weird.)◊ Not to be confused with horses treated like machines, the identically-named vintage vehicle, or a type of kiddie ride. A really big mechanical horse with some of the animal traits taken away and some weapons added is basically a Spider Tank.
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Anime & Manga
- The Animatrix has a few robots riding robotic "horses" into combat in The Second Renaissance: Part II. One scene has a Machine ride a mechanical "horse" while blowing a trumpet before finally falling. As with the later Machines (such as sentinels), the "horse" only remsembles a horse in general form and design.
- B't X: X and Shadow, although Kirins, are essentially Cool Mechanical Horses. Ones that let you breath in space.
- Crest of the Stars. There is a robotic horse children guide (along with other robotic animals) in a theme park. The protagonists enlist its help in escaping, resulting an a Chase Scene.
- The Count in Gankutsuou has a hovering carriage drawn by mechanical horses.
- Mobile Fighter G Gundam gives us Fuunsaiki, a Mecha horse piloted by an actual horse.
- Which was likely inspired by SD Gundam, which frequently featured mechanical horses due to its heavy use of samurai and knight settings. Some characters (such as Musha Zeta and Knight Gundam), even have centaur forms where they can combine with their steed. Perhaps topping them all, Ryofu Tallgeese in the current (as of early 2009) series SD Gundam BB Senshi Sangokuden has a powerful robotic horse that can also transform into a motorbike.
- SD Gundam Force gives us two, well, three example, all originating from the country of Ark, which has influences from G Gundam and the Musha Gundam series';
- The first is Entengo, Bakunetsumaru's steed, widely believed to be an Expy of Fuunsaiki.
- Next are the horses pulling Kibaomaru's chariot Oshogo. According to the Zako Zako Hour, their names are Kakuryu and Hiryu. Given that Kibaomaru is an Expy of the Zeus Gundam, it's more than likely that Oshogo is a reference to the Hercules Chariot used by that Gundam.
- Mazinger Z: Baron Ashura sometimes rode a large, pink, mechanical horse (seen for first time in episode 17). His Iron Mask troops also used mechanical horses in some scenes.
- In Shin Mazinger the Iron Masks also ride robotical horses.
- Saber Rider and the Star Sheriffs: Saber Rider's Steed and April's Nova.
- Sword Art Online: Available in Gun-Gale Online as a mount, but are notorious for being more temperamental than actual horses. To the point where players who can ride in real life can't master them.
- Vampire Hunter D has a Cool Cyborg Horse, as his stories are set in 12,000 A.D. The novels however state that his cyborg horses (he goes through several) are just standard model with nothing special about them in the context of the setting, but somehow he manages to make them incredibly fast and agile just by sitting on their back.
- In a Paperinik story (NOT from Paperinik New Adventures), Gyro Gearloose creates one for the eponymous hero after Scrooge McDuck confiscates Donald's car.
- "The Horse that Jack" built was a comic strip in The Beano back in The '40s about a boy and the robot horse he had built. Made more amazing by the fact that the story was set in the middle ages.
- Iron Man: One of Obadiah Stane's Chessmen, the Knight, had a mechanical flying horse.
Films — Live-Action
- According to the children's film Santa Claus (1959), our hero's sleigh is pulled by hideous giggling clockwork reindeer.
- A clockwork horse features prominently in the Arabian Nights based movie The Thief of Bagdad as well. Jaffar offers it to The Sultan of Basra, a toy collector, in exchange for his daughter. (See also Literature, below.)
- General Grievous' Tsmeu-6 Bike from Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith is able to function both as a monowheel and a four-legged running beast.
- The Fighting Fantasy book Portal of Evil featured a flying metal horse, which was owned by the Wizard of the Lake. He gives you (the PC) a ride on it.
- Older Than Print: One of the Arabian Nights stories features a clockwork horse. (See also Film, above.)
- Obviously drawing on such tales Chaucer in the "The Squire's Tale told a very similar steed being gifted to Genghis Khan alongside other wondrous items. Yes you read that right.
- The Dark Side of the Sun, a science fiction novel by Terry Pratchett, features robot horses on a world of nothing but Mechanical Lifeforms. The horses are sapient, and have a philosophical outlook on life.
- Pratchett's later book Strata, contains a similar mechanical horse that can fly. The book says it runs on magic.
- Pratchett touched on the subject again in his Discworld novel Making Money. The horses are golems — clay automatons — and the only one to ride them notes just how uncomfortable a terra cotta saddle is. And don't ask about the Igor horses built from spare parts...
- The Diamond Age by Neal Stephenson has mechanical horses; one of the main characters is given one with directions preprogrammed into it as a way of taking him to a secret location. Interesting in that they're specifically mentioned as being capable of using different gaits: galloping like a horse on smooth, level terrain, but more like a big cat when walking on steep, uneven terrain.
- Roger Zelazny: Bronze, the Steel General's steed in Creatures of Light and Darkness is a magically-enhanced mechanical horse that can ride through space. With each step it takes, it travels twice as far as the previous. It is said that with a sufficient run-up, it could circumnavigate the universe in a single stride.
- Do cyborg horses count? China Miéville's Bas-Lag, the world of Perdido Street Station, includes Remade horses as well as criminals.
- "The Quest for Saint Aquin," a 1951 short story by Anthony Boucher, had the priest protagonist using an artificially intelligent "robass," which happened to be an atheist.
- Jules Verne's steam elephant from The Steam House is an early example.
- Stephen King's Dark Tower novel ''Wolves of the Calla". The "wolves" that kidnap children from the town of Calla Bryn Sturgis every generation appear as wolf-masked riders, but are actually robots mounted on mechanical horses.
- In The Marran God of Fire by Aleksandr Volkov (one of the Tales of the Magic Land series), there are two mechanical mules built by Alfred Cunning for Ellie Smith and her friend Tim O'Kelly. The children name them Caesar and Hannibal and ride them to the Magical Land, where the mechanical mounts become alive and, like the dog Totoshka, are able to talk.
- The Hephaestus cabin from Percy Jackson and the Olympians made some mechanical horses for a chariot race.
- In the Warlock of Gramarye series, this overlaps with Sapient Steed, as the main character's horse, Fess, is a highly intelligent AI placed in a mechanical horse.
- In Dave Barry Slept Here, the "Iron Horse" that was used to pull heavy loads before being replaced by the locomotive is implied to be one of these, since it had the drawback of producing "Monster Piles of Iron Droppings."
- In GARO, after a Makai Knight seals 100 Horrors, they can take a test to see if they're worthy to ride one. These horses are made of metal and has the power to enhance the rider's weapons.
- GARO, ZERO and DAN's horses are named Gouten,note Ginganote and Hayatenote respectively. It's still unknown how KIBA obtains his horse Raigou though.
- In Mahou Sentai Magiranger and its counterpart Power Rangers Mystic Force, The Dragon has a Hellish Horse from the underworld that can grow giant, and turn into a horse mecha. He can combine with it to form a mecha-centaur, and then further combine with it to form a horse-based Megazord. The Hero can form this Megazord as well, and they later one-upped themselves by giving him his own mecha unicorn.
- And a later villain has a chariot pulled by two similar mecha-horses.
- Dungeons & Dragons:
- Lord Robilar in the Greyhawk setting (one of the original characters in the setting, created while Gary Gygax was playtesting the game) rode a mechanical destrier (a magically animated horse automaton).
- The Eberron campaign setting features automaton horses.
- Not to mention the Stone Horse items in the 3rd edition Dungeon Masters Guide.
- In the tabletop RPG Exalted, some characters can create horse-like constructs of bonded magical energy, or own magitek constructs as steeds.
- Rifts features both Robot and Bionic horses (Yes, as in real horses turned into Cyborgs). They've proven to be extremely popular for the companies that make them (Rule of Cool is a very real market force among post-post-apocalyptic adventurers and mercenaries), to the point that some are making fantastical variations like Unicorn(with a silver-plated vibro-blade horn), Pegasus(functional wings, but held aloft by hover thrusters), Sea Horse, and Monster.
- Warhammer 40,000:
- In addition to fully robotic mounts, there are heavily augmented bionic horses, cyber-wolves and cyber-boars.
- Mogul Kamir of the Attilan Rough Riders was gifted such a horse by the Adeptus Mechanicus. He was known for previously riding a lot of horses to death.
- Warhammer Fantasy features the mechanical steed. This is sufficiently ridiculous for even the distinctively over-the-top Warhammer world that many Empire players consider it Fanon Discontinuity. Empire army book author Graham McNeill considers it the Empire's attempt to invent the car. Oh and it shoots lightning, from its eyes.
- Magic: The Gathering has the Bronze Horse, Clockwork Steed, Workhorse, and Chrome Steed. Hero of Bladehold and Hero of Oxid Ridge can be seen riding Chrome Steeds as well.
- Deadlands features mechanical pack mules available through a company specializing in weird-science products.
- In BattleTech, Clan Hell's Horses rather unsurprisingly created an Omnimech, the Balius, and a Battle Armor suit, the Buraq, that are both stylized to look lie horses.
- Fallout 3 has an ad for "Giddyup Buttercup" ("The Ultimate in Equestrian Robotics!") appear in multiple locations. In the Mothership Zeta add-on you find a room full of them in the alien mothership - along with a number of dead aliens that have apparently been kicked to death.
- The Mechanostriders (mechanical ostriches) from World of Warcraft.
- The Genesis game Alien Soldier has Wolfgunblood Garopa as boss of Stage 23, who is a mechanical cowboy wolf with a machine-gun pistol riding one of these.
- The Aussenseiter in Super Robot Wars is piloted by a person, but transforms into a horse. All together now: "Real Men Ride Each Other".
- One of the challenges in Syberia II is how to repair a group of horse automata (no, not Automaton Horses!) that "dance" on stage in a tavern. They can't be ridden anywhere, but they're kinda fun to watch.
- Robot Unicorn Attack. Speaks for itself.
- BioShock Infinite features mechanical horses. According to the Bioshock website, the mechanical horses called Automated Stallions were meant to replace horses on Columbia that were more likely fall off the floating city when startled by weather conditions and enemy attacks.
- The Defiant faction in Rift can get "eldritch steeds", which play the trope straight with magitek.
- In Final Fantasy XIII, Odin's 'Gestalt Mode' is a mecha warhorse that inexplicably wafts rose petals in it's wake.
- In Onimusha 2, Jubei finds a strange metal sphere with an indentation bearing the word "Faith." When Jubei uses the Faith Orb given to him by Oyu on the sphere it unpacks into a mechanical horse.
- In Fire Emblem Fates, anyone who promotes into the Mechanist class rides a puppet mount that looks like a Chinese lion.
- In Gunnerkrigg Court, carriages are drawn by the Model-H's: intricate robotic horses that spout Milton as they slouch apocalyptically toward their destination.
- Gertrude, Brunhilda & Nikki of the webcomic The KAMics received mechanical pegasi as a gift from the webcomic Magical Misfits. Nikki's pegasus was shown to convert into a convertible.
- Shiratz in UNA Frontiers is a 4,000-year-old alien probe that looks like a rather smallish but refined Pinto riding horse. He is realistic enough to pass a non-invasive veterinary inspection.
- Girl Genius: One of the accomplishments of the Spark known as the Iron Sheik is that he built a Mechanical Camel.
- Bill and Barry Heterodyne rode to Mechanicsburg on horse clanks faster than possible when they heard about the attack.
- At one point in Homestuck, Rufioh was seriously injured. In order to save him, his boyfriend Horuss built him a mechanical body. And because Horuss has a creepy horse obsession, he made the body in the shape of a mechanical horse so Rufioh would better fit Horuss' ideal vision.
- Crankrats, befitting its steampunk acumen, has these and they're programmable. Just enter your destination and there you go.
- Bravestarr had a talking cyborg horse named 30-30, who could switch between humanoid and quadruped forms, and served as his deputy. And carried a shotgun to boot.
- Adventures of the Galaxy Rangers has robo-horses, since many newly settled planets lack roads for wheeled vehicles.
- The fan-favorite He-Man and the Masters of the Universe (1983) episode "Origin of the Sorceress" also featured Stridor, Man-At-Arms' hand-built robot mount for He-Man, which Cringer/Battle Cat viewed with no small amount of distaste. It even got a Heroic Sacrifice-turned-Disney Death fighting a villain called... wait for it... Morgoth the Terrible.
- The Rankin Bass special Jack Frost has the villain, Kubla Krauss, riding a Steam Punk mechanical horse called "Clangstomper."
- Kim Possible has a few of them in the episode "Showdown at Crooked D". Her uncle has a technologically advanced ranch where the horses are the norm.
- The Rainbow Brite movie Rainbow Brite and the Star Stealer. (the one with "Spectra", the diamond-planet) features a talking, flying Cyber Horse called On-X (pronounced "Onyx"), for Brite's Spear Counterpart Krys (pronounced "Chris").
- One of Heloise's many inventions on Jimmy Two-Shoes, which she intended to pull a carriage for her and Jimmy.
- Samurai Jack: Occurrs when Jack is fighting off cowboys in a steam-punk based future part of The Wild West. Instead of legs, the robot steeds hover above the ground.
- Codename: Kids Next Door has one episode where gang of cowboy-style robbers staged a hold-up on the school bus where the eponymous team gang is waiting to be taken to school. They all ride jet-powered mechanical ponies.
- Batman: The Brave and the Bold where fellow anti-hero Jonah Hex rode on a sleek mechanical horse-like robot after being dragged from his timeline by Mongul to have warriors fight in his "War World", again taking place in a futuristic Wild West setting.
- Dexter's Laboratory: Although shown only briefly, a few mechanical horses galloped along Dee-dee (who transformed into a horse after begging her brother to turn her into a pony) as part of a testing ground assessing the strengths of her new body.
- In the little-known Hugo the Hippo the sultan's magician conjures up a metal horse and cowboy to lasso some hippos after the horse, obviously, drains the body of water they live in with a vacuum snout.
- One of the early projects of automobile, back in the 1800s, included a papier-mâché wheeled horse with engine inside. The idea was to make it less scary to other horses (and some of the more conservative folks as well). Here's some proof. Seriously... That particular early automobile was actually named and marketed as the "Horsey Horseless"!
- The BigDog mechanical mule.
- And now, The WildCat. It has an added effect of being absolutely terryfying.
- The successor to the BigDog, the Legged Squad Support System, currently (December 2013) in development for US Armed Forces, is, in essence, a mechanical packhorse, designed to carry equipment and supplies and collect intelligence for soldiers in urban situations or rough terrain. Like BigDog, it was shelved for having an extremely loud motor for a robot pack mule (similar to a leaf blower) as well as being difficult to integrate with Marine squads.
- Boston Dynamics has also developed SpotMini, their quietest quadruped yet as its motors sound like someone walking on squeaky floors. About the size of a miniature horse, the SpotMini can easily move around homes and offices and its arm/head is strong enough to open doors and light enough to hold cans. Unfortunately, its battery is limited to a maximum of 90 minutes per charge depending on how often it is used and the type of job.
- A concept design by Jason Battersby has a real-life version. Called the Nomad, it even gets energy from eating vegetation .