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I bought a horse at the stable and grew attached to it, but I want to get a new horse from a different stable. What will happen to my old horse?

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They go back to where you originally got them from. The only exception to this I think is Frost who will go to Merryfair Farm. Taking him from this location will not be considered theft or alter the guards.

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I was sure it would be a glue factory. – Zan Lynx Aug 15 '14 at 21:41
Except that the horse is actually walking all that distance, which means that while horse does not trigger random encounters, it is still very likely to walk into some predefined monster trap or simply get stuck somewhere. If you relly need that horse to survive, bring it to the stable you bought it, dismount and walk to another stable by foot, without hiring carriage or entering doors. You may steal another horse for this. – Barafu Albino Aug 16 '14 at 8:19
@BarafuAlbino It actually walks there? Is the whole world of Skyrim loaded up at once? Is it not like Minecraft, where areas that are farther away from players get unloaded? – Alex Aug 16 '14 at 9:38
It is rather complicated. Game keeps in mind pathways for outside world, to check how many time does it take to move and who meets who. But you can check it yourself. To the south of Throat of the World there is a path with "Haemar's Shame" cave in it. There is a redguard girl on a horse near it. If after starting new game you go directly there, she is alive. If you don't, you will find her either dead or far away from her horse. This is because wild animals pass through there. – Barafu Albino Aug 16 '14 at 10:13
Most of what you meet on the road is randomly generated when you approach. Most, but not all. Some NPC really walk the roads, khajiit caravan being the most notable example. – Barafu Albino Aug 16 '14 at 10:19

Go to the nearest stable where your previous horse will be. If you use your old horse, it will go with you until you use your new horse.

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Once you ride your new horse, your old one will walk to the stable it was bought from, but it can still be attacked by enemies. Just leave your new horse at the stable you purchased it at and fast travel to the city where you bought the old one. Then just fast travel back to the stable from which you purchased the new one. You can switch them out at anytime by following this process.

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