Follow TV Tropes


Moody Mount

Go To
"Here I was, minding my own business, and some gosh-darn duck decided to jump onto me. How would you feel?"
A horse, dragon, dinosaur, or other creature that is being used as a mount has a mind of its own.... and doesn't like its rider. So it resists being saddled, doesn't take commands, tries and often succeeds in throwing the rider. Such animals are often black. They most likely started out fractious when being broken (indeed, broncos for rodeos are specially selected for the challenge they present), and this mount hasn't improved much with training. Don't expect bribes of food treats to work either; people foolish enough to offer a treat are likely to be bitten and/or kicked for their trouble.

If such an animal is well-known to be temperamental, expect its name to reflect this (or alternately, be hilariously inappropriate). Characters in the know (stable hands or bystanders with expertise in handling such animals) will advise against riding the animal. Despite having such a reputation, a specific person may get good responses from the animal, and be much marveled at for doing so. (Compare Only I Can Make It Go, because as we all know horses are just another kind of vehicle.)

Frequently Played for Laughs. Supertrope of Horsing Around. Contrast Automaton Horse.


    open/close all folders 

     Anime and Manga  
  • In Cesare - Il Creatore che ha distrutto, Cesare's first appearance is his Meet Cute with The Watson Angelo, where Cesare, skilled with horses as he was in real life, rescues Angelo from one of these, a black stallion named Remus. Naïve Newcomer Angelo spoke well in class and upstaged Giovanni de'Medici, the top student of the Florentine students' association to which Angelo belongs. Giovanni, a Spoiled Brat before his character development (future pope though he may be), had Angelo ride Remus for their tour of the town, hoping that Angelo would lose control and wind up injured and humiliated. Remus is Giovanni's horse, but a gift from Cesare, and related to Cesare's own horse, Romulus. Angelo doesn't back down, and asks Cesare to teach him to ride Remus. Angelo's developing horse skills reflect his character development and his relationship with Cesare. Eventually, he becomes so good with the horse that Giovanni gives him to him.
  • Ash's Charizard in the first season of Pokémon: The Original Series. He fights when he wants and when he doesn't feel like it, he sleeps. An old lady that Ash meets says this is because Charizard is extremely skilled, but sees himself as superior to his owner. When Ash takes care of Charizard for a whole night after his tail flame is almost extinguished (which can have fatal consequences), in an incident caused by Charizard's own refusal to acknowledge Ash, he changes his mind and becomes fiercely protective of him.
  • In Rakuin No Monshou, dragons are extremely sensitive to the mood of their riders. If the rider becomes distracted or afraid, the dragon will react violently; if the rider remains calm and focused, the dragon will be far more obedient.
  • In addition to being a Sapient Steed, the relationship between the bounty hunter and his horse in Moon Jung-hoo "Yongbi" is often a contentious one, often getting into arguments like an old married couple.
  • Wild Liger in Zoids: Wild is a prideful and strong-willed Zoid that only allows Arashi the time of day seemingly out of a sense of humor and curiosity at first. When Arashi proves he's dedicated and courageous (if thick), Liger finally allows himself to be ridden. But he's not above bucking Arashi off for his terrible jokes and remedial drawing skills.

     Fan Works  

  • Vow of Nudity: When Fiora escapes the gnolls by leaping on the back of a wild axebeak, it's understandably unhappy with the situation and tries to buck her off any way it can for the rest of the chase scene.
  • X-Men: The Early Years: In "Midnight Meetings", the group is heading towards an archeological dig. Hank knows his camel hates him and intends to kill him.
    Hank: Oh Fearless, I believe my camel is plotting to try to eat me.
    Scott: It's a camel, Hank. It hates everyone. Besides it just wants a chance to spit on you.

     Film — Animated  

  • The Road to El Dorado has Altivo, who may have inspired Maximus below; they're both suspiciously intelligent white warhorses who were stolen from their owners and got very very angry about it. Altivo, in this case, originally belonged to Hernán Cortés.
  • Disney's Melody Time segment "Pecos Bill." See Folklore below.
  • In Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron, the title character. Justified in that he was taken from the wild and treated harshly. He refuses to be tamed even when he end up with a Native American tribe who treat him more kindly than the colonists who first captured him and he only willingly lets himself be ridden when he has a common goal with his rider.
  • Maximus from Tangled won't let Flynn Rider ride him. Perhaps it has something to do with him being the Captain of the Guard's horse, and Flynn being a wanted criminal. Until the end when they team up to rescue Rapunzel.
  • Toothless of How to Train Your Dragon decides when Hiccup, his rider, gets to set the course. All other times, he only gets to hang on.

     Film — Live Action  

  • In Candleshoe, Priory (David Niven) rides a horse that is rather difficult to control. It eventually gallops off in mid conversation with Priory on it. It's not clear whether this is really a case of a Moody Mount, or if Priory is just that bad at horsemanship.
    Lady St. Edmund: the Colonel's new horse must be even more spirited than Satan was.
  • Rashomon: The court officer claims that the bandit was thrown by the horse he stole from the samurai — the bandit maintains that he fell out of the saddle because he was weakened by poisoned water.
  • Seabiscuit, infamously, to the point the movie actually toned down the behavior of the real horse because the filmmakers were worried that the audience would think they were playing up this trope for a laugh.
  • Tumbleweed won't allow anyone he doesn't respect to ride him.
  • The Mustang: Marcus, the title character and horse, is a particularly difficult to break wild mustang.
  • Alexander: When a horse trader presents Bucephalus to Philip and his court, we see Cleitus getting thrown off trying to ride it, and Philip passing on an attempt because the horse will not even let him go near it. To the surprise of everyone present, the very young Alexander volunteers to ride the horse, and to even greater surprise, he succeeds. The implication is that Alexander succeeds because in contrast to Philip and his generals, he does not rely on force but insteads talks to Bucephalus to calm it and thus gains its trust. It may also be that he is correct in assuming that Bucephalus is afraid of its own shadow.


  • In the Tall Tale of Pecos Bill, the horse known as Widowmaker would let no one ride him but Bill. When Slue-Foot Sue, Bill's love, tried to ride Widowmaker, he took her for quite a trip - all the way to the Moon.


  • In Dragon Bones, Ward's father owned one of those. He tried to break the stallion with violence for some four years, but in the end, the stallion won - Ward inherits the horse after his father is thrown, falls, and is lethally injured. When Ward renames the horse from "Stygian" to "Pansy", treats it gently, and stops all attempts to break it, it turns into a Cool Horse within some weeks. It accepts only Ward as rider, but one could consider that an added bonus.
  • Ichabod Crane's borrowed horse Gunpowder in The Legend of Sleepy Hollow: "The animal he bestrode was a broken-down plow-horse, that had outlived almost everything but its viciousness."
  • About half the horses ridden by the heroes of Louis L'Amour's Westerns.
  • Stranger (ridden by The Hound) and Smiler (ridden by Theon) from A Song of Ice and Fire. Justified Trope since these are war mounts, trained for battle.
    • Not to mention Drogon. So far the other two dragons have proved too moody to be mounted at all.
    • Gregor Clegane is known for favoring bad tempered stallions to ride. In the first book, Loras Tyrell exploits this by riding a mare in heat during their joust. Clegane's steed costs him the match.
  • Discworld:
    • In Going Postal, Moist von Lipwig rides one of these (named Boris) to another city to help save the postal system. The stablemaster gave it to him as retaliation for Moist's disparaging remarks about his horses - although he tries to back out when Moist accepts the ride, because then it started "looking too much like murder". It's mentioned that Boris would have been a champion racehorse except for his unbreakable habit of attacking the competitors and jumping the fence at the first turn.
    • Lt. Blouse's horse in Monstrous Regiment. Turns out part of the reason it's so grumpy may be that Blouse thinks the horse is male, but male she ain't. Blouse isn't very observant.
    • "You Bastard" the camel in Pyramids, although you'd also be rather miffed if your calculations were constantly being interrupted by another stupid human who wants a ride on you. Another book has Evil-Minded Son Of A Bitch, also a camel.
    • Jason Ogg the Lancre blacksmith averts this with use of the Horseman's Word, a secret passed down from blacksmith to blacksmith (and witches, if they're pushy enough) to get uncooperative horses to get their hooves shod. It involves giving it a good whack with a big hammer, putting your mouth to the horse's ear, and whispering "Cross me, you bugger, and I'll have thy goolies on t'anvil, thou knows I can." With it he has successfully shoed "stud stallions, the red-eyed and foam-flecked kings of the horse kingdom, the soup-plate-hoofed beasts that had kicked lesser men through walls" and even a unicorn.
  • Zeus, Theo's recalcitrant horse in the Fools' Guild mysteries by Alan Gordon. Theo's little daughter Portia gets affectionate nuzzles, while everybody else risks life and limb just getting close to him, and even Theo has a touch-and-go relationship with him.
  • Codex Alera gives us the Taurga, which try at every opportunity to dislodge, bite, or kill their riders.
  • Counselors and Kings has a black stallion belonging to the Jordaini order, who despite being both the largest and the finest horse in their big stable typically was left in his stall. The beast was controllable most in the scenario "set the right direction and let him bolt like mad," and wooden hitching posts worked only until he'd get bored. Matteo rode this one when he meant business, after which he considered an unbroken horse not challenging. And upon reassignment named another aggressive mount after this one.
    Some blasphemous groom had dubbed the horse "Cyric," and the name had stuck. The stallion was as volatile and possibly as crazed as the evil god whose name he bore.
  • In The Sharing Knife, Dag's horse Copperhead is habitually described as "evil", and won't allow anyone but Dag to care for him.
  • The tail end of Paladin of Souls displays a vicious warhorse that Lord Illvin had been consciously attempting to ride to death (figuring it was the horse or him). It is discovered that said horse is demon-ridden, which, he says sagely, explains a great deal. Ista tames it, after a fashion (involving whispered threats of strangling it with its own guts before feeding it to the gods), and it becomes a loyal if rather unnerving mount for her.
  • In Prince Roger, on the planet Marduk the Civan are omnivorous and will happily try to take a bite out of their rider if given the opportunity.
  • The inappropriately named Peachblossom in Protector of the Small is so unruly none of the knights want him. Keladry, with help of The Beastmaster Daine, eventually wins him over. He remains temperamental, though, and only allows her near him. Neal calls him a 'monster,' since every time Neal goes near him, Peachblossom tries to bite him.
  • Ginger from Black Beauty has aspects of this because of being abused. Her name references this - she's not called Ginger because she's a chestnut, she's called Ginger because she snaps.
  • Rhyshadim in The Stormlight Archive will only allow their chosen human to ride them. One time, when for strategic reasons one hero needs to ride another's Rhyshadim, it takes hours to talk the horse into it.
  • Sparhawk's primary mount Faran in The Elenium and its sequel The Tamuli. Foul tempered, very intelligent and surprisingly creative in his ways of misbehaving. Though Aphrael claims that it only because he's trying to live up to Sparhawk's expectations as to how a trained warhorse is supposed to act. Around her he is gentle and almost playful.
  • In the Alan Dean Foster Weird West short stories about mountain man Mad Amos, Amos's horse Worthless is like this. The horse regularly bites, urinates on, and otherwise does his best to make Amos miserable, and he actually likes Amos. The things he does to people he doesn't like are downright terrifying.
  • In Mercedes Lackey's Valdemar universe, Shin'a'in battlesteeds have this reputation — not entirely undeserved. Companions, when displeased with their Chosen, can also act this way.
  • In Wildwood Boys by James Carlos Balke, Charley is the meanest roan horse in all Missouri, killing dogs, biting humans and Charley is the mount of Quantrill.
  • The Lord of the Rings: Shadowfax is a descendant of an ancient noble lineage of horses called the Méaras, and is only permitted to be ridden by the King of Rohan. Gandalf borrows him to return to the Shire after escaping Isengard, and apparently treats him with such atypical respect that afterwards Shadowfax permits no one else to ride him, resisting even being saddled.
  • Reign of the Seven Spellblades: During the main cast's first Flying Broomstick lessons, Nanao is taken with a broom reputed to be both a superior example of the species, and to have permitted no riders since its last master died. She intuits that the broomstick expects a rider to approach it as an equal partner rather than an inanimate mount and successfully mounts it, naming it Amatsukaze. The previous master turns out to have been her Love Interest Oliver's mother, Chloe Halford.
  • Ranger's Apprentice has the Ranger horses, who are carefully trained to behave like this if someone attempts to mount without using a specific command phrase, in order to avoid horse theft.

     Live-Action TV  

  • On The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr., Brisco's horse Comet is like this sometimes, when they've had a spat.
  • Game of Thrones: Ser Loras Tyrell exploits this trope to win a joust by riding a mare in heat against Ser Gregor Clegane's bad tempered stallion.

  • "The Strawberry Roan" is a traditional cowboy song about a phenomenally ugly bronc that's also extremely good at throwing anyone who tries to ride him.
    I'll bet all my money the man ain't alive
    that can stay with that bronc when he makes his high dive.
  • Played for Laughs in the Riders in the Sky song "That's How the Yodel Was Born."
    The bronco jumped up and the cowboy came down
    They met at the old saddlehorn
    It made a deep impression; you could say it changed his life
    And that's how the yodel was born
  • "The Zebra Dun" starts out like "The Strawberry Roan," with a guy volunteering to ride a very wild bronco. Then it subverts the trope when the guy, who looks like a "greenhorn" fresh from the big city, turns out to be good enough to stay on this horse — something no one else has ever done.

     Tabletop Games  

  • In Dungeons & Dragons, there's an item known as the Obsidian Steed. If the rider is good-aligned, they must roll to control the beast or it goes to the Lower Planes and dumps them there. Most sapient steeds are also known for being quite moody if mistreated. Or, if they tend toward evil alignments, simply because they're bored or think the rider isn't strong enough to stop them.
  • Games Workshop games:
    • Juggernauts of Khorne from Warhammer, Warhammer: Age of Sigmar and Warhammer 40,000 are all but untameable, goring and crushing any unworthy mortal or daemon with the impudence to attempt to ride them. Even those who succeed in getting a Juggernaut to accept them as a rider have little control over their monstrous mount, merely clinging to the beast's back as the Juggernaut itself decides when and where it will attack.
    • Orcs/orks ride monstrous boars (cybernetically-enhanced in the latter case) that are just as aggressive and stupid as their rider.
    • Warhammer has Cold Ones, ostrich-sized raptor-type dinosaurs used by Dark Elves and Lizardmen as cavalry. In the Dark Elves' case, riders need to smear themselves with a special unguent that masks their scent (otherwise the Cold Ones attack them), prolonged use of which deadens their sense of touch. In the fluff, one elf got rid of a rival by replacing his unguent with a placebo, ending with the rival ripped to shreds.
    • In Warhammer 40,000, Slaughterfiends are demonically-possessed machines that exist only to kill. Khornates make a point of trying to hitch a ride on one, as such a feat vastly improves their status.
  • Druids in Pathfinder have the option to take care of a drake instead of getting a standard animal companion. A drake is obviously much more intelligent than an animal and develops extra abilities when growing but is also lazy and moody and thus a real pain in the ass to direct towards any task, requiring a Diplomacy check from its "charge" (drakes refuse the word "master") for everything it's asked to do. A drake can also serve as a mount when large enough but remains reluctant to carry anyone but its charge.

     Video Games  

  • Red Dead Redemption has a lot of unique and in some cases, magical, horses that must be "broken" before they can be ridden. And even a broken horse can still buck you off if you don't pay attention to the stamina meter.
  • The Elum in Abe's Oddysee is a grumbly cuss, but hopping on his back is the only way to progress through certain sections where the jumps are too broad for Abe alone.
  • Yoshi from the Super Mario Bros. games will actually run around very fast and become very hard to catch should Mario or Luigi be thrown off his back after Yoshi is hit by an enemy.
    • However this is shown and has been demonstrated multiple times that Yoshi is very easily spooked, and just wants to get away from danger as quickly as possible. Sadly this typically means he'll run right into a bottomless pit if not caught in time.
  • Angelus from Drakengard acts like this due to a deep hatred for humanity. The only reason she allows Caim to ride her is due to their pact, meaning if one dies so does the other.
  • Bighorners in Fallout: New Vegas are giant mutant bighorn sheep that, even when domesticated, are useless as pack animals or steeds because if they're not in the mood to carry something (and they never are) they'll just sit down until the offending weight is removed.
  • A World of Warcraft short story has Koak, a Dragonmaw Orc, who bonds with an unruly cloud serpent he later names Steel.
  • Fire Emblem has a couple of moody horses:
    • Fire Emblem: Awakening has Sully's unnamed mount, a terrifying animal that's constantly menacing Vaike during some support chains. Played with in that his rider doesn't have any problems - because many people consider Sully a perfect match.
    • Fire Emblem Fates has Sophie's horse Avel, who constantly disobeys her: going where she doesn't want to go (which is how her Paralogue begins even), throwing her off, and even eating her hair at one point. In gameplay, he behaves like any other horse, but this is addressed in her supports with her father Silas; he explains that Avel responds to her just fine when she's in the zone during battle and taking charge, it's when she starts trying to control him that he gets uppity. (Something that can be Truth in Television.)
  • The Legend of Zelda:
    • The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild: Link can tame wild beasts (usually but not always horses) to use as mounts, but as they are wild, they don't obey right at first. At first they will actively try to throw him off, and even after he calms them into letting him ride, they will often disobey instructions and try to go do their own thing. Link has to work with them and train them before they act like loyal steeds, and some are more rebellious than others.
    • The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom: In addition to horses, the Lighy Dragon doesn't like being ridden either if you try to pull the Master Sword from its forehead. If you have enough Stamina Vessels, you can hang on and pull it out, as well as learn the dragon's major secret.
  • Horses in Survival Craft will act like this if you try to ride them without a saddle.


  • The Adventures of Dr. McNinja: Yoshi the raptor won't let anyone but Gordito ride him. Unless Gordito is in danger.
  • In Freefall, Sam tries to ride Polly the emu to escape from an angry mob, but she refuses. He gets her to run by pulling off one of his facial tentacles and putting it on a stick.
  • The unicorn in Exiern allows the formerly male barbarian heroine Tiffany to ride but absolutely refuses to allow Princess Peonie to mount even when her life is in grave danger (probably because she's reputed to have been mounted more than a few times herself.) Lampshades are hung on both the implications and on the fact that Tiffany doesn't get the implications or at least pretends not to get them.
  • Knightmare, the dire unicorn/dragon and Blackjack's steed in The Daemonslayers. While mostly loyal to Blackjack in regards to their shared blistering hatred of daemonkind for corrupting them as they are now (Knightmare was once a noble unicorn, while Blackjack is a black dragon cursed into the form of a dracosvulf), Knightmare's capricious nature makes it so that Blackjack is left with a few broken rips at the end of the day. As a result, Blackjack always has to keep half an eye on him.
  • Tapiseri Soujourn: Caleb's horse always has an angry or moody expression on his face.

     Web Original  

  • The crowning achievement of Dr. Kondraki's career is setting off a series of events culminating in his riding SCP-682 like a rodeo horse. SCP-682 is a monstrous alien lizard that cannot be destroyed by any means and hates humanity as much as AM.
  • Jonric's party in Broken Quest end up with 'asshole horses' that refuse to move and have to be dragged along by their reins.
  • Dreamscape: Liz is on the stubborn side, so if there is something he doesn't wanna do, it's going to be a pain in the ass to get him to do it.

     Western Animation  

  • Looney Tunes: Yosemite Sam's camel from "Sahara Hare" and his dragon in Knighty Knight Bugs.
    Sam: Whoa, dragon, WHOA!!
  • Goofy's mount in the Classic Disney Short "How to Ride a Horse."
  • Donald Duck's steed in "Dude Duck", who would rather be ridden by one of the beautiful women attending the dude ranch.
  • The Pink Panther: There's a cartoon where he's trying to mount a horse who doesn't want to be ridden ("Pinto Pink"). It happens again in "Pink Valiant" where he plays a knight on a mission to rescue a kidnapped princess but can't even get out of the king's castle because his horse again refuses to be ridden. After several failed attempts to mount the horse he gives up and sells the horse to buy a more cooperative dragon mount, but by then he has forgotten what the mission was and ends up rescuing the evil knight who kidnapped the princess instead. Another has him as Paul Revere looking for a horse, and the only one available is on the British side ("Pinky Doodle / Yankee Doodle Pink"). Other issues with horses can be found in "The Midnight Ride of Pink Revere" and "The Magnificent Pink One."
  • DuckTales (1987): Scrooge McDuck had a horse like this in his youth.
  • In an episode of Doug, the titular character has been invited to a dude ranch by Patty. So, wanting to impress her, he claims to have better equestrian skills than he actually does. He gets saddled with a mean black horse ironically named Sugar.
  • Garfield and Friends had a black horse named Certain Death on Cactus Jake's Dude Ranch in "Polecat Flats" who was so ferocious it had to be kept behind a four-rail fence and could beat its hooves on its chest like an angry gorilla when sufficiently enraged. He appears again in "Cactus Jake Rides Again", where a Champion cowboy is scheduled to ride Certain Death and must be thrown so that Cactus Jake can get a cash bonus. Unfortunately, due to eating four pans of Garfield's lasagna, Certain Death becomes drowzy and tired until Garfield feeds him Cactus Jake's special deluxe chili, turning him ferocious again and winning the rodeo.
  • Done by the main characters in My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic when a pack Diamond Dogs try to use Rarity to haul carts of diamonds and even ambush the other ponies by saddling and muzzling them as new work horses. Being sentient equines with attitude, the ponies buck the dogs off rodeo-style while Rarity drives the others insane with her incessant whining.
    • Twilight Sparkle once tossed Spike off of her for making a bad joke.
  • Kevin from Mr. Bogus often acts this way whenever Bogus tries to ride on him, but will sometimes oblige and let Bogus ride on him. By the way, have we mentioned that Kevin is a bulldog?
  • Sofia and Amber get a flying carpet that fits this trope in the episode "Two to Tangu." Princess Jasmine shows up to help them tame it.
  • Spirit: Riding Free has the titular horse. While he is more mellow than his father and trusts one girl with letting her ride him, he still expects his freedom to be respected; any sign that anyone might try to tie him up, lock him up, or put a saddle on him will result in him panicking, as Lucky finds out the hard way when she accidentally closes him in a stable and he responds by smashing a hole into it to get out.

     Real Life  
  • Though this may or may not be true: Bucephalus, the horse that belonged to Alexander the Great, was supposedly this. The folk legends of Macedon held that he threw every one of the noblemen, and the King, except 13 year old Alexander. May be true, since it would hardly be ridiculous to think the horse was abused, as the seller was apparently an obvious conman. May be false because it's likely that people would make up crazy stories about Alexander, especially in his home region. Of course, he did at least plan to build a city named after this horse (the plans exist, but no evidence of the city).