Horses are an extremely important part of the Red Dead Redemption 2 experience, serving as the main means of travel for the majority of the game. Horses are just as important in Red Dead Online, but some of the mechanics powering them on the online component of the game are markedly different from the single-player mode.
Buying and Owning Horses
In the single-player portion of the game, available horses for purchase change depending on the Stable, but things are different in Red Dead Online, as any Stable sells all available horse types. At the beginning of the game, only a few types will be available, with additional ones getting unlocked as you increase your rank.
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Horses can be purchased with regular money or with the Gold Bar currency, which is obtained in a variety of ways. Once you have purchased a horse, you can choose to name it however you want. You will also need to purchase a saddle to ride it.
One horse, the Red Chestnut Arabian Horse, is available for free from any Stable. You can also get the Black Chestnut Thoroughbred if you have purchased the game's Ultimate Edition.
In case you want to know which horses are available for purchase without heading to any Stable, you can check out the Handheld Catalogue by pressing the left button on the directional pad. Horses can also be purchased through the Catalogue at any time.
Like in the Red Dead Redemption 2 Story Mode, it's possible to own multiple horses. At the beginning of the game, you can only store a single horse, but you can store up to five if you purchase additional stalls. Surprisingly, the only horses you can own are those that are purchased from stables: you can store neither wild horses nor stolen ones.
You can still ride them temporarily, but there's currently no way to make them your own permanently. You can't also increase the bond with any horse that is not yours.
If you own multiple horses, you can also choose which one you want to use in the different Game Modes. You can make your selection by accessing the Stables section in the Player Menu and then check the Specialty Menu. Here, you can set the horse you want to use for Racing, Story Missions, Competitive Matches, and Free Roam.
Another major difference from the single player mode is that there's currently no way to sell horses, which is a definite bummer as it would have allowed players to earn some much needed extra cash.
Caring for your horse in Red Dead Online is not too different from how you take care of your trusty steeds in the Story Mode. Horses come with two different bars and cores, Health and Stamina. Cores are influenced negatively if the horse is hungry or dirty. These stats also increase up to a certain point, depending on the horse type, over time.
One major difference from the Story Mode is that horses cannot die at all. Once the animal is injured critically and cannot move, you have the choice of using a Horse Reviver to get it back on its feet or to heal it by paying a fee to the Veterinary. If you choose to do so from the Player Menu, the fee will be higher.
Horse Insurance is a brand new mechanic, exclusive to Red Dead Online, which allows players to get their horse healed automatically once it has been critically injured.
While useful on paper, horse insurance isn't really worth it however, especially since it costs 5 Gold Bars that could be spent to purchase an item that is still locked behind a rank requirement. Having a good stock of horse health tonics also prevents the horse from getting critically injured, and at a much lower cost as well, so purchase the insurance only if you know you are going to take part in activities that will get your steed injured, and you don't want to have to play with the replacement horse until you get it healed manually.
Protect your Horse
With players roaming around the world at all times, you may fear for your horse getting stolen. You can prevent this from happening by setting who can ride your horse from the Player Menu. You can allow all players to use the horse, Posse members only, Crew members only, or Friends only. You can also choose not to share your horse with anybody.
Whistling doesn't work too different from the main Story Mode, as you can press up on the directional pad to call your horse to you. The higher the bond level with your horse, the greater the whistling distance.
One major change from the single player mode is that you get access to a replacement horse called the Scrawny Nag if your horse cannot find you, or if it is too far to respond to your whistling. This horse's stats are very poor though, so don't expect to make much use of it!