Horses are extremely important in both RDR2's story mode and Red Dead Online, not only for transportation, but also in combat and in a variety of other situations.
Not all horses, however, are equal. While there are a lot of viable types, only a few of them can be considered the absolute best to obtain in the story mode. Things get even more complicated in Red Dead Online, as players can take part in multiplayer horse races where having the best possible horse for racing makes the difference between victory and defeat.
In this guide, we will take a good look at all of the horses in both the story mode and online mode, highlighting the best ones you should be aiming to own.
In Red Dead Redemption 2 and Red Dead Online, there are 19 different horse types. Most of them can be purchased from stables, with more types becoming available as the story progresses. A few others can only be found in the wild and thus need to be tamed.
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Wild horses have the same stats as the ones that can be purchased with only a few exceptions, so you don't have to worry about getting an inferior horse if you choose to tame a wild one.
Stats and Types
Horses in RDR2 are divided into six different categories, which determine their starting stats and how much they can be improved.
Horse stats are Health, which determines the amount of damage a horse can take, Stamina, which determines how long the horse can gallop at full speed, jump and swim, Speed, which determines its top speed, and Acceleration, which determines how fast the horse can get up to full speed.
Each horse also has an additional trait called handling, which determines how the horse handles. While there are differences between standard, race, elite and heavy, they are not so big as to pose any problem while riding.
Draft horses have average health, stamina, speed, and acceleration. Getting a draft horse is not a terribly bad choice if you're short on money, but they are not a good investment if you're aiming to get the absolute best horse.
Race horses have high speed and acceleration but low health and stamina. These horses are extremely good when you're trying to get away from the law as quickly as possible, but the low health and stamina will eventually force you to use horse medicine when in the heat of battle, as they have a hard time surviving intense shooting and chase sequences.
Riding horses are the worse available in both story mode and online mode, as they come with below average health, stamina, speed, and acceleration. Using a riding horse is best avoided at all times except for the very beginning of the story mode when money is low and there aren't many other options available.
Superior horses are, as the name implies, the best horses in Red Dead Redemption 2. They have high health, stamina, speed, and acceleration. If you're looking for a horse that can carry you through the game, a superior horse is the one to get without a doubt, even more if you have money to spend on upgrades, which can make their performance even better.
War horses are the exact opposite of race horses, as they have high health and stamina, but low speed and acceleration. They are not the best for escaping from enemies, but they can take a hit like no other horse type can, so they are extremely reliable for most story missions where you must fight your way through on horseback.
Work horses are far from being the best horses, with high stamina but average health and speed, and low acceleration. If you really cannot pick any other horse type, and you don't want to be stuck with a riding horse, they may be a decent choice, but don't expect to get too much use out of one.
Best Story Mode Horse
The best story horse type that can be acquired for the story mode is, without a doubt, the Arabian.
There are three different variants of this horse type: Black, Rose Grey Bay, and White. The Black Arabian comes with health, stamina, speed and acceleration stats at 6, and it can be purchased for $1,050. The Rose Grey Bay has slightly better health and stamina, both at 7, than the Black Arabian, but it costs a bit more, $1,250. The White Arabian has slightly worse health and stamina than the other two Arabian types, 5 for both stats, and it costs only slightly less than the Rose Grey Bay, $1,200. All three Arabians are available only at the Saint Denis stables during the main story and in the New Austin stables during the Epilogue.
Find & Tame a White Arabian Horse
If you really like the White Arabian, but don't want to spend so much money to get it, you can capture a wild one near Lake Isabella, which is located to the west of the "A" in Ambarino on the map. Check out the video above for our full guide.
The wild White Arabian has slightly worse stats than the ones that can be purchased, but this of very little consequence, considering you get it for free and you can improve its stats by purchasing the right upgrades.
Best Red Dead Online Horses
While similar to story mode in a lot of ways, the Red Dead Online experience differs from it in several others, so the Arabians, while still very good with a 6 in all stats, are not the absolute best horses to use at all times online.
They are also not very easy to get, as you need to reach rank 66 for the White Arabian and rank 70 for the Black Arabian. They also cost 42 Gold Bars, so it may take a very long time to get one for yourself unless you are willing to spend some real money to purchase the required Gold Bars.
If you are aiming to become the best at horse races, then the best horse to get is the Missouri Fox Trotter. Both the Amber Champagne and the Silver Dapple Pinto come with the same stats: 5 health, 6 stamina, 7 speed and 5 acceleration. They are also a little easier to obtain than the two Arabians, as you need to get to rank 58 to unlock both variations. Additionally, they can be purchased with regular money, so a little XP and money farming will be enough to get either of them.
The low health makes the Missouri Fox Trotter a very bad choice for combat situations, so you may want to look at another horse if you're aiming to fight on horseback a lot. The Turkoman has considerably better health than the Missouri Fox Trotter, 7 instead of 5, slightly lower speed, 6 instead of 7, and identical stamina and acceleration, 5. The Turkoman can be a good choice for horse races as well, and it can be acquired much more easily, as the Dark Bay Coat is unlocked at rank 56. It can be purchased for $925.
If you don't have much money on you, but still need a solid horse, you can't do better than getting an Andalusian or Ardennes. Both types are available for a low price, $125, and they come with some above average stats: 7 in health, 5 in stamina, 3 in speed and acceleration, making them a bad choice for races but a more than solid one for Free Roam.
How To Get Free Horses In Red Dead Online
If you are among those who purchased the game's Ultimate Edition, you can get two horses for free. Unlike what you may be expecting, however, these two horses are quite good and you can use them in a variety of situations.
The two free horses are the Arabian Red Chestnut and the Thoroughbred Black Chestnut. Of the two, the Arabian is the best one, despite its stats being slightly lower than the Arabian Black Coat and the Arabian White Coat, but the Thoroughbred is not much worse.
To get the two free horses right at the beginning of Red Dead Online, you need to go to any stable, sell the below average horse you get during the Honor Among Thieves mission and claim any of the two free horses. Once you have made enough money, you can purchase a second stable stall to claim the remaining horse.
Getting the best horse for both story mode and online is just the first step, as stats can be further improved by purchasing horse upgrades. These upgrades, available in stables, come in the form of different saddles, stirrups and saddle bags. Story mode also features some additional saddles that can be purchased from any trapper, given the player has specific items in his or her possession.
For Red Dead Online, you need to reach the required rank before being able to purchase any of the horse upgrades. You can check out our rank unlocks guide for more information.
Saddles are the best way to upgrade horses, as they provide the best stats improvements. These improvements, however, come at a cost, as both health and stamina cores will drain faster than usual.
Gerden Trail (Regular)
Core Stamina Drain +10% - Core Health Drain +4% - Stamina Regeneration +8%
Gerden Trail (Upgraded)
Core Stamina Drain +18% - Core Health Drain +12% - Stamina Regeneration +16%
Gerden Vaquero (Regular)
Core Stamina Drain +8% - Core Health Drain +6% - Stamina Regeneration +8%
Gerden Vaquero (Upgraded)
Core Stamina Drain +16% - Core Health Drain +14% - Stamina Regeneration +16%
Kneller Dakota (Regular)
Core Stamina Drain +8% Core Health Drain - +4% - Stamina Regeneration +6%
Kneller Dakota (Upgraded)
Core Stamina Drain +16% - Core Health Drain +12% - Stamina Regeneration +14%
Kneller Mother Hubbard (Regular)
Core Stamina Drain +4% - Core Health Drain +6% - Stamina Regeneration +4%
Kneller Mother Hubbard (Upgraded)
Core Stamina Drain +12% - Core Health Drain +14% - Stamina Regeneration +12%
Lumley McClelland (Regular)
Core Stamina Drain +6% - Core Health Drain +4% - Stamina Regeneration +4%
Lumley McClelland (Upgraded)
Core Stamina Drain +14% - Core Health Drain +12% - Stamina Regeneration +12%
Stenger Roping (Regular)
Core Stamina Drain +4% - Core Health Drain +10% - Stamina Regeneration +8%
Stenger Roping (Upgraded)
Core Stamina Drain +12% - Core Health Drain +18% - Stamina Regeneration +16%
Lumley Ranch Cutter (Regular)
Core Stamina Drain +4 – Core HP Drain +8% - Stamina Regeneration +6%
Lumley Ranch Cutter (Upgraded)
Core Stamina Drain +12 – Core HP Drain +14% - Stamina Regeneration +14%
The trapper saddles are aesthetic variants of the regular saddles. They can only be purchased by owning the correct perfect skin or pelt, and they bring no performance change beyond that of the upgraded variant of each saddle.
Alligator Ranch Cutter Saddle
Perfect Alligator Skin x1
Bear Dakota Saddle
Perfect Bear Pelt x1
Boar Mother Hubbard Saddle
Perfect Boar Pelt x1
Beaver Roping Saddle
Perfect Beaver Pelt x1
Cougar McClelland Saddle
Perfect Cougar Pelt x1
Panther Trail Saddle
Perfect Panther Pelt x1
Rattlesnake Vaquero Saddle
Perfect Snake Skin x10
Stirrups provide improvements to the speed and acceleration stats at the cost of faster core drain. Some of them, however, provide none.
Speed and Acceleration Boost 0 - Core Drain +5%
Speed and Acceleration Boost +2 - Core Drain +35%
Belled Oxbow Stirrup
Speed and Acceleration Boost +1 - Core Drain +25%
Deep Roper Stirrup
Speed and Acceleration Boost +1 - Core Drain +20%
Speed and Acceleration Boost 0 - Core Drain 0
Speed and Acceleration Boost +2 - Core Drain +50%
Speed and Acceleration Boost +2 - Core Drain +40%
Speed and Acceleration Boost +1 - Core Drain +15%
Slim-line Iron Stirrup
Speed and Acceleration Boost 0 - Core Drain +10%
Speed and Acceleration Boost +2 - Core Drain +45%
Speed and Acceleration Boost +1% - Core Drain +30%
Saddle Bags increase the item carrying capacity of the horse. There are only two in both story mode and online mode, the Regular Saddle Bag ($12) and the Upgraded Saddle Bag ($40), with the latter being the best.