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"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. This is a mechanised version of the Diligent Draft Animal when the horse is used for carrying loads.

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.

Sub-Trope to Mechanical Animals.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • B't X: X and Shadow, although Kirin, are essentially Cool Mechanical Horses — ones that let you breath in space.
  • The Count in Gankutsuou has a hovering carriage drawn by mechanical horses.
  • Gundam:
    • SD Gundam frequently features 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.
    • Mobile Fighter G Gundam gives us Fuunsaiki, a Mecha horse piloted by an actual horse.
    • SD Gundam Force gives us two — well, three examples, 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 rides a large, pink, mechanical horse (seen for first time in episode 17). His Iron Mask troops also use mechanical horses in some scenes. In Shin Mazinger, the Iron Masks also ride robotic horses.
  • Saber Rider and the Star Sheriffs: Saber Rider's Steed and April's Nova.

    Asian Animation 
  • The Motu Patlu episode "Robot Horse", as suggested by its title, has Motu and Patlu borrowing a robotic horse from Dr. Jhatka to replace the real horse they used to replace their bikes. The robotic horse, unlike the real horse, doesn't annoy people by eating their vegetables and crops... actually, it annoys people by eating jewelry, and the villain John the Don uses this to his advantage by hijacking the robot horse.

    Audio Plays 

    Card Games 

    Comic Books 

    Fan Works 
  • Better Living Through Science and Ponies: Everyone in the Aperture Science Enrichment Center that was teleported to Equestria was physically changed to have an equine-like form, including robots like GLaDOS, ATLAS, and P-body.
  • The Iron Horse: Everything's Better With Robots! centers around a robot pony named Turing Test.
  • The mine-robbers that the four encounter in The Keys Stand Alone: The Soft World ride six clockwork robotic horses that combine into a Humongous Mecha that kicks Paul about 300 feet away.
  • The Myth of Link & Zelda: Breath of the Wild adapts the namesake game, including the various DLCs, such as "The Champions' Ballad". At the end of it, Link fights Monk Maz Koshia and earns the Master Cycle Zero, which just as in canon, is unicorn-shaped. Except this time, there's also Divine Beast Vah Eponia, named for Link's loyal horse throughout the ages, and the Divine Beast of nature which is also shaped like a massive horse. Monk Maz Koshia serves as its pilot in place of Link by whom the beast is meant to be piloted.

    Films — Animation 
  • 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 resembles a horse in general form and design.
  • Doraemon: Nobita's Dorabian Nights: The gang meet Sinbad (a Retired Badass in this incarnation), who owns various artifacts from the Arabian Nights stories, including the Ebony Horse from the Arabian Nights tale of the same name which turns out to be a mechanical flying animal. The final battle notably has Sinbad riding the horse and battling the main villain, Abdil, on the rooftops as Sinbad's castle takes flight.
  • In 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.
  • 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").
  • Rankin Bass' Jack Frost has the villain, Kubla Krauss, riding a Steampunk mechanical horse called "Clangstomper".

    Films — Live-Action 
  • General Grievous' Tsmeu-6 Bike from Revenge of the Sith is able to function both as a monowheel and a four-legged running beast.
  • According to Santa Claus (1959), our hero's sleigh is pulled by hideous giggling clockwork reindeer.
  • A clockwork horse features prominently in The Thief of Bagdad (1940), based on the Arabian Nights example. Jaffar offers it to the Sultan of Basra, a toy collector, in exchange for his daughter. (See also Literature, below.)
  • The horses in the Westworld film are very life-like, but are actually robots, much like their humanoid counterparts. During one particular scene set at the robot repair lab, we can see a few inanimate horses lying on large operating tables, waiting for repairs along with the human robots and other animal robots.

  • The Fighting Fantasy book Portal of Evil features a flying metal horse which is 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.)
  • Ascendance of a Bookworm: Members of the Supernatural Elite can make highbeasts, which are essentially magic-powered moving statues that look like winged horses. Some people give them the form of the winged version of another ridable animal, making Horse of a Different Color quite common.
  • The Canterbury Tales: Obviously drawing on the Arabian Nights tale, in the "The Squire's Tale", Chaucer tells of a very similar steed being gifted to Genghis Khan alongside other wondrous items.
  • 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.
  • 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 in a Chase Scene.
  • The Dark Side of the Sun features robot horses on a world of nothing but Mechanical Lifeforms. The horses are sapient, and have a philosophical outlook on life.
  • 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".
  • The Diamond Age 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.
  • In Infinite Dendrogram, there are a series of mechanical steeds known as Prism Steeds, created by an ancient civilization. While there are replicas in the modern age, the original series are both rare and valuable enough that a player could be murdered over it.
  • In Making Money, the horses are golems — clay automatons — and the only one to ride them notes just how uncomfortable a terra cotta saddle is. That one character reasons that, since (some) golems can talk (it partially has to do with how they're "built"), then... why can't a golem horse? So he asks one what it wants, and gets an answer: permission to actually act like a horse, including time to just run around, and occasionally roll around in fields.
    "...'Give me Livery, or Give Me Death'."
  • The NeverEnding Story: Xayide created hollow metal horses that she could control with her mind. Bastian, due to Auryn, could also control these horses and rode one away from a battle until it shattered from overuse.
  • The Hephaestus cabin from Percy Jackson and the Olympians make some mechanical horses for a chariot race.
  • Bas-Lag, the world of Perdido Street Station, includes Remade (cyborg) horses as well as criminals.
  • "The Quest for Saint Aquin", a 1951 short story by Anthony Boucher, has the priest protagonist using an artificially intelligent "robass" ("robot ass") which happened to be an atheist. The story takes place in a post-nuclear war United States where roads are in poor repair, hence the need for an automated horse rather than Automated Automobiles (though the robass does have wheels it can deploy if the surface allows).
  • Halidarre the mechanical pegasus in the Robotech: The Sentinels novels.
  • The steam elephant from The Steam House is an early example.
  • Strata features a mechanical horse that can fly. The book says it runs on magic.
  • Sword Art Online: Among Gun-Gale Online's in-game vehicles are robotic horses. In an amusing inversion of Automaton Horses, they are fully robotic, but notorious for being more temperamental than actual horses, to the point where players who can ride in real life can't get them to listen.
  • In the Tales of the Magic Land book The Fiery God of the Marrans, there are two mechanical mules built by Alfred Canning for Annie 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.
  • Vampire Hunter D has a Cool Cyborg Horse, as the stories are set in 12,000 A.D. However, the novels 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 he somehow manages to make them incredibly fast and agile just by sitting on their back.
  • 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.
  • 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.

    Live-Action TV 
  • 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.
  • Parodied in Home Movie: The Princess Bride for David Oyelowo's turn as Humperdinck, which has him for the scene where he rides up on horseback to send Westley to the Pit of Despair. Except instead of a horse, Oyelowo rides up in a golf cart, and exits stage left by putting the golf cart in reverse and backing out of frame.
  • 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. A later villain has a chariot pulled by two similar mecha-horses.
  • In Westworld, the artificial horses are built in much of the same manner as their human counterparts and consist largely of tissues similar to organic ones, operated by a control unit in their skull. Like all animals in the Delos parks, they are of a lower intelligence than the humanoid hosts. They exhibit typical horse-like behaviour, but don't seem vulnerable to the simulated ammunition ("simunition") used by park guests and the parks' host characters.

    Music & Music Videos 

    Tabletop Games 
  • 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 like horses.
  • Deadlands features mechanical pack mules available through a company specializing in weird-science products.
  • 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).
    • 3rd Edition includes "stone horses," Living Statues that serve whoever speaks their command word. They have the game stats of heavy horses and the Damage Reduction of stone.
    • Equine golems are crafted from hardwood and can gallop non-stop without tiring, though anyone who tries to ride one for more than eight hours a day is going to be fatigued since their mount doesn't flex beneath them like a living horse.
    • Clockwork steeds were introduced in a late 3rd Edition Monster Manual, and boast a suspension system that makes them more comfortable to ride than equine golems, have a variety of optional upgrades such as combat features and additional armor, and are so easy to handle that even a novice rider can control them. The downside is that if their rider ever becomes incapacitated, the clockwork steed will immediately come to a halt, and they'll obey the commands of any rider, such as a thief who shoved their unconscious owner out of the saddle.
    • The Eberron campaign setting features automaton horses.
  • In 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 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.
  • 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.
    • Speaking of the Mechanicus, in 2020 they received a fully playable example of this trope in the form of the Serberys Cavalry, available in two flavours: the Serberys Raiders and their clawed robot horses, and the Serberys Sulphurhounds, who are more partial to fire-breathing robot greyhounds.


    Video Games 
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Fallout 3 has an ad for "Giddyup Buttercup" ("The Ultimate in Equestrian Robotics!") which appears 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.
  • In Final Fantasy XIII, Odin's 'Gestalt Mode' is a mecha warhorse that inexplicably wafts rose petals in its wake.
  • In Fire Emblem Fates, anyone who promotes into the Mechanist class rides a puppet mount that looks like a Chinese lion.
  • Horizon Zero Dawn: Since all the machines are built to look like animals, there's naturally a machine horse, called a Strider. Aloy can tame them and use them as mounts once she figures out how to hack machines.
  • In Onimusha 2: Samurai's Destiny, 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.
  • The Defiant faction in Rift can get "eldritch steeds", which play the trope straight with Magitek.
  • Robot Unicorn Attack has... well, robot unicorns, providing the current page image.
  • 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.
  • Them's Fightin' Herds has a mechanical horse that sometimes appears in the background of the Salt Mines stage. This character is a backer reward who was based on the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic fanfiction character Turing Test.
  • The Mechanostriders (mechanical ostriches) from World of Warcraft.

  • Crankrats, befitting its Steampunk acumen, has these, and they're programmable. Just enter your destination and there you go.
  • 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.
    • One of the Foglios' interludes involves a Spark opera featuring a mechanical roller-skating giraffe. There's no mention of it being ridden, which is probably for the better.
  • In Gunnerkrigg Court, carriages are drawn by the Model-H's: intricate robotic horses that spout Milton as they slouch apocalyptically toward their destination.
  • 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.
  • In The Inexplicable Adventures of Bob!, Galatea spends much of "The Island and the Idol" ark trying to get a powerful being to give her a flying pony. He never does... but at the end of the story arc, she actually does get a mechanical pegasus, and seems reasonably happy with it.
  • Gertrude, Brunhilda and Nikki of The KAMics received mechanical pegasi as a gift from the webcomic Magical Misfits. Nikki's pegasus was shown to convert into a convertible.
  • In Merchant Band, Amira has full control of an Orb Stallion which is essentially a Magitek horse with an orb for a head.
  • 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.

    Web Original 
  • In the second episode of Station Arcadia, Noah rides a diesel-powered horse through a war zone too toxic for live horses.
  • In the Whateley Universe, Stalwart likes to go around in Arthurian-looking Powered Armor he built himself. He has a robot horse he rides, too. It still breaks down a lot.

    Western Animation 
  • Adventures of the Galaxy Rangers has robo-horses, since many newly settled planets lack roads for wheeled vehicles.
  • In Batman: The Brave and the Bold, Jonah Hex rides on a sleek mechanical horse-like robot after being dragged from his timeline by Mongul to have warriors fight in his "War World", taking place in a futuristic Wild West setting.
  • Bravestarr: 30-30 is a talking cyborg horse who can switch between humanoid and quadruped forms, serves as Bravestarr's deputy, and carries a shotgun to boot.
  • Codename: Kids Next Door has one episode in which a 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.
  • Dexter's Laboratory: Although shown only briefly, a few mechanical horses gallop along Dee-dee (who transforms 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.
  • Futurama: In one of the twists in "31st Century Fox", not only are the fox and the dogs robotic, but so are the horses that the fox hunters ride on; the horses even work as helicopters and can validate parking.
  • The fan-favorite He-Man and the Masters of the Universe (1983) episode "Origin of the Sorceress" features Stridor, Man-At-Arms' hand-built robot mount for He-Man, which Cringer/Battle Cat views with no small amount of distaste. It even gets a Heroic Sacrifice-turned-Disney Death fighting a villain called... wait for it... Morgoth the Terrible.
  • Hong Kong Phooey: In the two-part finale, "Comedy Cowboy", the outlaw Tin Nose rides a mechanical horse.
  • The Impossibles: Billy the Kidder rides a rocket-powered mechanical horse.
  • One of Heloise's many inventions in Jimmy Two-Shoes, which she intends to pull a carriage for her and Jimmy.
  • Kim Possible has a few of these in the episode "Showdown at the Crooked D". Kim's uncle has a technologically advanced ranch where the horses are the norm.
  • Samurai Jack: Occurs when Jack is fighting off cowboys in a steampunk-based future part of The Wild West. Instead of legs, the robot steeds hover above the ground.
  • Slugterra has Mecha Beasts, which come in all sorts of animal forms, including horses.
  • Queen Aleena from Sonic Underground is shown on a robot horse in flashbacks. It can be assumed that these horses belong to the Hedgehog Dynasty and were claimed as Robotnik's when he usurped the throne
  • SpongeBob SquarePants: Plankton has a one-eyed robot seahorse in the episode "Plankton Retires".
  • Teen Titans Go! features Cyborg riding a mechanical horse while "The Night Begins to Shine" plays.

    Real Life 
  • 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 terrifying.
    • The successor to the BigDog, the Legged Squad Support System, that was 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 [1].

Alternative Title(s): Horse Bot