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I bought a horse once, for no less than 1000 gold. It was a decent horse up until that first battle. At this point I realized I have absolutely no combat abilities from atop my steed, so I dismounted and and began to firebomb my enemies.

During this once sided battle that lasted all 30 seconds my horse found a way to die.

Since then I've never purchased another horse and I don't have any plans to. And now I wonder "Why would I want a horse?"; they aren't much faster than just walking to your destination with fast travel and that carriage driver outside of the cities.

If there is some reason I might need a horse how can I best keep them alive long enough to get my money's worth?

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related: gaming.stackexchange.com/questions/36304/… –  z ' Nov 28 '11 at 2:14
    
I was going to give an answer, but horses just aren't worth it. Maybe after people mod them to be tougher/faster/less retarded it'll be time to give 'em another chance –  Fambida Nov 28 '11 at 2:19
    
See Horse Physics. –  DavidYell May 21 '12 at 8:49
    
I've always hated my horse for joining a battle with a group of Forsworn or bandits. Even if I park my horse far away, it still seems to find a way into the battle. I've had to hit F9 several times because of this. –  oscilatingcretin Jun 12 '12 at 16:41
    
You may also want to make some beef ready meals from one. –  Alex Feb 22 '13 at 11:01

5 Answers 5

Horses do the following:

  • Allow for faster speed and have increased stamina for sprinting.
  • Mounting a horse while over-encumbered allows for fast travel. (very useful)
  • Can distract and attack enemies if provoked.
  • Allows for climbing extremely steep slopes such as mountains.
  • Will fast travel with you to places if lost.

As far as keeping a horse alive, it's hard, like you said. Shadowmere is a special horse with much more health and he respawns 15 days later if he dies.

I played the entire game without a horse. They're not required for any quests and aren't really worth the headache, in my opinion.

Edit: There's also the glitchy entertainment value.

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I wish I knew about teh fast travel while overencumbered benefit. The steep slope climbing is nice. At 1,000 gold, those two alone are worth it. Gold has never been an issue for me in this game. –  oscilatingcretin Jun 12 '12 at 16:39

They are great from getting to an objective point from the nearest avaliable fast travel.

Sometimes its a big trek, and when you fast travel to the nearest avaliable, it travels with you and spawns next to you. This allows an easy mounting, and then riding to the destination.

And lets be honest, you have lots of spare cash, and 1k every now and then isnt that much.

Another bonus to consider is that you can practically run up anything on a horse (within reason), where it would otherwise be too steep for your character. This in itself saves one heck of a lot time in certain scenarios. The amount of times I was thinking, I wish had bought another horse... Instead having to run right around to find the proper way up.

Update:

With the new expansion, it is now possible to fight upon your mount

Mounted combat is also included, which allows the Dragonborn to fight on horseback with a variety of weapons, but not spells

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Also note that the expansion brings the ultimate in practicality for the low-carry-weight Conjuror : A Summonable Horse ! –  Nigralbus Aug 23 '12 at 9:04
    
"within reason" doesn't really apply to horses. There are some things a horse can't climb, but not many. –  Annan Feb 22 '13 at 9:19

The Headless Horseman is hard to keep up with on foot - a horse is useful for that. Also, it's useful if you lose your Shadowmere (mine Shadowmere died about a month ago and no sign of him since).

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Download the "Better Horses" mod. It will make your horse experiences infinitely better. This really should have come with the game for anyone who wanted a horse, if for no other reason then because it makes horses cowardly instead of courageous. Although I'm sure you can still cast courage on your horse to make him fight!

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You can use the setessential console command so your horse won't die.

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