Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Horse Stories

I'm pretty wary of horses in real life.  When I was little I got trampled by one trying to give it some food.  Later, when I was a teenager and trying to learn the basics of riding, my mount (not the same steed) thought it would be fun to try and rub my leg across a barbed wire fence.  Someday, I'll give horse riding another try, but sufficed to say my equestrian experiences thus far have been less than positive.  The same can't be said about video game horses.  Unlike a lot of players who bemoan the fact that these animals don't handle like motorcycles, I have generally enjoyed my time spent with Epona, Argo and Roach (not to mention a whole herd of noble steeds in Red Dead Redemption.  Most recently though, I've had a few interesting adventures in Breath of the Wild that I'd like to recount here.

I was a bit surprised to learn that a lot of players never really use horses and instead prefer to have Link do everything on foot.  Maybe it's just my experiences with Mount and Blade, but I find mounted combat a much easier proposition against groups of enemies that trying to duke it out with boots on the ground.  Better still, if the tide of battle starts to turn against Link, it's easy to flee on horseback assuming the opposition lacks mounts of their own.  The reverse on the other hand is a real nightmare (pun?).  Having Link stand his ground and fight is the only way I ever figured out how to deal with horse-riding Bokoblins once they're spotted me.

Literally the moment I got off the Hyrule plateau I glided down to where a trio of wild horses just happen to be.  Sneaking up on them, I managed to jump on the back of a coffee colored stallion and was just barely able to break him before my stamina bar depleted completely.  It took a while to find a stables since I don't know where any of them were.  Eventually, I stumbled upon the one over by the Dueling Peaks and registered my first horse there under the name "Courser."  After a brief stay in Kakariko Village, I struck out east on foot and during my journey to Hateno, picked up another solid colored horse.  this one had better speed, but less stamina.  Eventually, I registered him under the name "Blue" since that was the color of his coat.

After some adventures with the Zora, I journeyed companionless to the north-east and got caught in a Bokoblin ambush.  It was in an open field during a lightning storm.  They were mounted.  I wasn't.  I might have perished then and there had I not managed to knock one of those pig-faced beastmen out of the saddle.  Quickly, I confiscated his horse only to find (much to my dismay) that it wasn't going to obey me very much.  A confused skirmish with the remaining Bokoblins ensued.  After the grass fires settled down (due to their enthusiastic use of fire arrows), I was still in possession of the milk and chocolate horse I had procured earlier.  As it turned out, she was not the best horse one could hope for.  I named her "Rouncy," but our time together was brief.  I sold her to a man in the canyons to the south-west for 300 rupees.  In truth I was glad to be rid of her because I had recently added "Shadow" (a black mustang) and "Dynasty" (a pure white mare of royal pedigree) to the stables.  The limit per person is five and I have four, with the last opening reserved for a legendary giant horse said to roam an arid valley to the south.

Still, I sometimes find myself wondering what happened to Rouncy.  When I happened upon the man I sold her to many days later, he claimed to have resold the horse to an acquaintance.  His motivation for doing so though felt driven more by avarice than kindness.  If I happen to come across Rouncy again I will make doubly sure she is being treated well.  Real-life horses may have never been particularly kind to me, but I have no desire to be callous or cruel in return, even if it's just a video game.

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