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Buying a Horse

Should you seek a random horse the market will contain these types. If the Game Master wishes to randomly roll of the color of the horse these tables can be used. Likewise unusual traits, both good and bad, can be checked for. Keep in mind that the seller will do their best, as their ethics allow, to promote the horse's good traits while minimizing the bad ones. Most horses are simply average for their size and type and use the performance given above.

1. AGE 1d10
1Weanling -- six months to 1 year. They are obvious by the size of the animal.Half market price. (Horses younger than six months offered for sale will come as a "package" with their mother. Full price for mom.)
2-3Yearling to adulthood -- From 1 to 3 years of age 3/4 market price
4-5Young Adult -- 4 to 8 years1-1.5 market price
6-7Mature Adult -- 8 to 16 years market price
8-10Aged Adult -- over 16 yearsmarket price to half or less market price.

Weanlings cannot be worked, but they are the best age to acquire a horse you wish to bind to you and train. Note: Those specifically looking for a weanling have a better chance of finding one if they visit a breeding farm. Yearlings stand twice the normal chance of breakdown if worked or trained. Other than teaching manners and basic ground training, a horse's formal education should begin no earlier than age three when the animal has reached its full height and weight. Horses from young adult onward can be worked normally.

These ages do not vary no matter what the horse's expected lifespan. 20 years or 40 years, all that changes is the length of time the animal can be expected to do productive work. Small ponies mature at the same rate as large draft horses. Most horses smaller than "large draft" can do heavy work into their late teens, and moderate work well into their twenties. Ponies up to about age 30. Horses in the last "fourth" of their maximum lifespan should be considered too frail to any work harder than being gently ridden for exercise. Mares will be unlikely to conceive if bred at this point. However, stallions will be capable of breeding until the day they die, provided they are not afflicted with arthritis or other chronic illness. People that use horses for a living will seek to dump these aged animals, especially if the animal is no longer capable of breeding. Overwork or inadequate care at any stage will shorten both the horse's productive life and its maximum lifespan.

A good horseman can judge the age of a horse by it's teeth until it reaches its late teens. An unethical horse seller will try to tell you the horse is younger than it might be and might even try altering the teeth to trick the potential buyer.

2 GENDER (percent roll d100)
Stallion = 1- 20
Mare = 21 - 50
Gelding = 51 - 100


3 COLOR** (Roll twice. Once for base color, once for any modifiers or patterns.)
The word "points" are used in the color descriptions. This term refers to the mane, tail, and legs.
Base Color: d100 bay (brown body, black points) = 1 - 50
black = 51 - 70
chestnut (red body, mane and tail may be either red or blond) = 71 - 100
Color Modifiers: d100 Regular Color = 1 - 50
Modified = 51 - 80 (roll once on table 3a)
Patterned = 81 - 95 (roll once on table 3b)
Modified AND Patterned = 96 - 100 (roll once on tables 3a AND 3b)


3a MODIFIERS d100
Cream = 1 - 25
(Roll again to see if the horse is a double cream.
1 - 25 indicates a double cream.)
If base color is... Final color will be...
baybuckskin (yellow-tan body, black points)
blackbrown
chestnutpalomino (gold body, white mane and tail)
A double cream will be pale cream all over with blue eyes. They are NOT albinos and do not suffer the weaknesses of albinos.
Dun = 26 - 45 If base color is... Final color will be...
bayyellow dun (similar color to buckskin, but with a black stripe running along the spine and stripes horizontally on the upper legs)
blackgrulla (slate gray body, black points. This color only looks gray. It will NOT get lighter with age.)
chestnutred dun (pale red body, dark red points, dark red stripes as with the yellow dun)
Grey = 46 - 75 (Horse is born a "normal" color, but will gradually turn white as it ages.)
Roan = 76 - 100
(Roan is an even mix of white and dark hairs over the body. Therefore, the color can look rather odd from a distance.)
If base color is...Final color will be...
baybay roan (brown head, black points, body appears dark beige with a purple cast)
blackblue roan (black head and points, body may appear dark or bluish gray. This color will NOT get lighter with age.)
chestnutred roan (red head and points, body will appear dark pink). If the base chestnut color is light with a blond mane and tail the roaned version is called "strawberry roan".


3b.PATTERNED d100
Pinto = 1-74 (Roll again to see if the horse is solid white. 95 - 100 indicates an all white animal.)
A pinto is a horse with large patches of white marking the body. In the case of the solid white "pinto", the white patches simply cover the entire horse.
Appaloosa = 76 - 100 (Roll again to see if the horse lacks spots. 76 - 100 This indicates a solid color animal with mottled skin & striped hooves.) The horse has many small spots over its body, skin that is mottled dark and light, and striped hooves. It may or may not have an area of white over the hips.


4 TRAITS

A given horse has a 25% chance of "traits", that is behaviors that make it remarkable from the average horse. Some traits are desirable, others are not. Some have good points and bad points. In the rare cases of multiple traits use some common sense. A Courageous horse would not also be Nervous.

       01-75 -- No Traits
       76-90 -- One Trait
       91-98 -- Two Traits
       99-00 -- Three Traits

Traits roll 1d4 to select the table and 1d8 for the trait

Table 1Table 2 Table 3Table 4
1 Agile1 Dullard 1 Loyal 1 Stayer
2 Alert2 Easy Keeper 2 Nervous2 Steady
3 Ambler3 Fleet 3 Poor Doer3 Strong
4 Balker4 Hard Mouth 4 Rears 4 Sullen
5 Biter5 Hardy 5 Restricted5 Sure-footed
6 Clumsy6 Intelligent 6 Rough gaited6 Unsound
7 Courageous7 Jumper 7 Runaway7 Weak
8 Cribber8 Kicker 8 Smooth Gaited8 Willing

Explanation of Traits

Agile: The horse can stop and/or change directions very quickly and take jumps at speed. +2 on any reflex check for the horse.

Alert: This horse notices things at once. He see and hears the environment ready, but does not panic. He notices and responses to the slightest cues. A handler that is in tune with the horse adds +2 to his own spot or listen checks.

Ambler: A horse that can amble has an extra gait other than the usual walk, trot, canter, and gallop. It is a gait that is extremely comfortable for both horse and rider. An ambling horse can cover a great deal of ground at a rapid rate (12 miles per hour) without tiring. The gait is smooth enough that the rider can balance a full glass of wine on their head without spilling a drop. An Ambling horse can travel at trot speeds with walk fatigue levels.

Balker: The horse will refuse when asked to perform ordinary tasks within its ability. The horse may simply stand rooted to the ground, back up, or even sit down. Such an animal can usually be persuaded to do the job, but it will be a battle of wills and strength between the animal & handler. A balker requires handle animal checks at any new task and at a +5 DC.

Biter: The horse will unpredictably bite whoever is within reach for no reason even though the person being bitten may be doing nothing more than feeding the animal.

Clumsy: The horse seems to have four left legs. They will back into things, stand on handlers' feet, or trip over thin air when walking. They tend to have many scrapes, scratches, and patches of missing hair. This horse subject the rider to a +5 DC on ride checks for any activity other than straight and level riding.

Courageous: The horse displays great boldness and determination. Such a horse will go into dangerous situations without fear. When faced with a potential enemy, the horse will prepare to fight rather than flee. Providing the horse doesn't sense danger, unusual sights, smells, or sounds are things to be investigated. As with the willing horse, the courageous one will tax itself to the point of utter exhaustion, and beyond if the handler does not control it. It will show no signs of fatigue, but will gallop on until it drops dead or will continue to try to perform despite wounds or broken limbs, and will actually fight the handler's efforts to restrain it. A courageous horse never checks for morale or fatigue.

The GM should make normal fatigue and/or wound checks and when the horse fails sufficient checks to drop dead, it drops. The rider gets no warning unless they inquire as to the status of their horse.

Cribber: This is a vice usually brought on by boredom. The horse chews the top of its stall wall or fence & swallows air. It is a difficult vice to cure, but the behavior can be curbed with the use of a muzzle or cribbing collar. Not only do they damage their surroundings, cribbers are prone to colic and bloat due to the air they swallow. Cribbers will suffer a -5 penalty in fortitude checks for disease when stabled for any length of time (over 3 days).

Dullard: This horse is lights on, no one home. His mind, if he has one, is on something else. Once you get his attention he is willing enough, but that loose mind keeps wandering. A Dullard takes 20% more time and effort to train. They impose a +2 penalty on ride checks. A Dullard is not a safe animal, as they are usually the first ones the predator gets. They give the rider no clues to the environment.

Easy Keeper: The horse has no trouble staying at a good weight and glossy coat with minimal feed and care. A handler must be careful not to overfeed as an easy keeper is prone to fat. An easy keeper requires 10% less time and money to maintain.

Fleet: If the horse is a saddle horse it will be an exceptionally fast runner (+10%). If the horse is a warhorse it will be an exceptionally fast trotter (+10%). Fleet horses are 10% faster at all gaits.

Hard Mouth: The horse's mouth has been made insensitive by misuse of the bit and reins. Such animals are difficult to steer or stop without the use of a very severe bit. Ride checks on this horse are made at a +5 DC. It isn't unwilling, it can't feel the cue.

Hardy: This horse is tough. Circumstance that would break another animal are to him a challenge to over come. He has bones of ivory and muscles of steel cord. A hardy horse gains +2 to Fortitude checks for health or injury.

Intelligent: This could be a blessing or a curse, depending on your point of view. An intelligent horse has a strong sense of self-preservation. If they feel a shoe loosen they will refuse to go any further until the shoe has been fixed. If they detect danger they will not willingly proceed into the situation. Novice handlers may mistake this for stubbornness, while experienced handlers will recognize it as good common sense. It is difficult to force such a horse to move toward the danger. However, a well-loved and trusted handler can often convince the animal to go on despite the horse's natural instincts. Intelligent horses make poor war horses. (Go THERE? Things are getting KILLED in there boss.) Intelligent horses tend to get bored easily. If they are confined for too long without sufficient work to do, they will INVENT things to amuse themselves (digging a hole in the stall, grabbing objects within reach and flinging them about, etc.) Such boredom can be avoided by giving the horse plenty of work to do and/or providing a toy for the animal to play with.

These horses can be taught 2-8 tricks. if not taught tricks they can develop them on their own. Be careful what you teach them.

Jumper: The horse can jump higher and further than other horses. The jumper gains a +5 to their Jump skill.

Kicker: The horse will kick anyone within range given half a chance.

Loyal: The horse will obey only one master. It will do everything within its power to return to that master if stolen or sold. Should the master fall, the horse will stay by the master's side & protect him/her. The horse will actively attack anyone or anything threatening its master. Such an animal will obey no other person unless that person is known by the animal to be important to its master. The horse's loyalty can be transferred to another master, but it will be several weeks or months work on the part of both people.

Nervous: The horse sees enemies around every corner and in every bush. It is very much of the opinion that everything is guilty until proven innocent. It is also of the opinion that everything is out to get it. A leaf that suddenly skitters across the horse's path is sufficient cause to jump sideways or backward. Unusual sounds or smells will cause the animal to sweat and tremble with fear. The animal may bolt in panic or stand fearfully depending on its relationship with the handler. A trusted handler will be able to get the horse to move past its fear with patience. Ride checks are required at any new incident.

Poor Doer: Opposite of easy keeper. The horse always seems to be underweight & have a poor coat despite adequate feed and care. They can be improved with feed supplements and diligent grooming. The condition can be caused by internal parasites and/or bad teeth. This horse will cost 10% more time and money than a normal animal to keep in good condition.

Rears: The horse will attempt to avoid work by rearing. A handler on the ground will usually be threatened by waving front hooves. A rider may find themselves in the dirt if they are not ready for the behavior. In some extreme cases, the horse will deliberately throw itself over backward with a rider on its back.

Restricted: This horse, through flaws in conformation or due to old injury, cannot move as easily as other horses. He suffers a 20% penalty in speed and -5 jumping skill penalty.

Rough gaited: The horse rides like it had five legs, or like you are sitting on a jackhammer. The rider will becomes overly fatigued on this horse and really nothing can be done about it. Break him to harness. A variation is the horse that is rough gaited in only one gait, such as the trot, but easy to ride at the walk, canter, or gallop.

Runaway: The horse will attempt to avoid work by bolting at top speed. Such an animal must be kept on a tight rein to avoid the behavior. They will be difficult to stop once they get going and a novice handler is likely to find themselves sitting in the dirt.

Smooth Gaited: The horse has only the normal gaits, but is more comfortable than usual to ride. The rider suffers less fatigue from riding this horse.

Steady: This horse take unusual sight, sounds, and smell with utter equality. You could run a marching band and full fireworks display past him and he yawns and wonders what's for dinner. (grain... my favorite...) This horse will take his cues from his handler or rider. If the "herd leader" is fine, he is fine. This horse ignores "horsy" fear checks in the presence of a human he trusts, and will only "fail" other checks if his rider/handler does.

Stayer: The horse has exceptional stamina. It will go a third longer than a normal horse before requiring fatigue checks.

Strong: All horses are strong, but some are stronger than most. A horse with this trait can haul a lot of weight for its size. A strong horse can haul or carry 10% greater load than average horses.

Sullen: The horse has a bad attitude. It must be forced to perform and then the performance will be lackluster with pinned ears & clamped tail. What work is done will be done with the least amount of effort the horse can get away with. Every command to the horse requires a ride or handle animal check. The horse will be 10% less able in all categories of performance even if it does move.

Sure-footed: This horse can keep it's feet in difficult circumstances such a mud, ice, or loose ground that would cause other horses to stumble. Sure-footed horses have a +5 bonus to any reflex save.

Unsound: This horse has a tendency to go lame with any hard work. Any effort that requires a fortitude or constitution check requires an additional check to see if the horse goes lame. A lame horse cannot be ridden or draw a load without risking a total breakdown that will effectively destroy the animal. Each episode of lameness will require 1d4 weeks of rest and care to correct. The horse must be maintained as if working to simulate the vet visits and treatments.

Weak: A weak horse is still strong, but for physical reasons cannot carry the load an average horse can. A Weak horse can carry or pull 10% less for their size than an average horse.

Willing: The horse will do its very best to obey its handler's commands, even if it doesn't quite understand what's being asked of it. The handler of such an animal must be careful what they ask their horse to do. If being asked to gallop for an extended period of time, the horse will slow as it becomes fatigued, but it will continue to gallop if the rider insists. If asked to jump a fence too tall for it, the horse will show reluctance to do so, but will make its best attempt at the rider's insistence. Such a horse will tax itself to the point of utter exhaustion to try to fulfill its handler's wishes. A willing horse requires no horsemanship tests even for the most difficult tasks, except to determine if the rider stays in the saddle.

       The following are good general references for horse facts.
The New Encyclopedia of the Horse       DK Publishing Inc       by: Elwyn Hartey Edwards, Bob Langrish, Kit Houghton, Sharon Ralls Lemon

*Additional information on Horse Breeds can be found in these books and websites.
International Encyclopedia of Horse Breeds        U of Ok Press       by Bonnie Hendricks
Breeds of livestock: Horses

**These color tables are based on a simplification of the real incidence of horse color genetics as currently understood by science. For further information check the following books and websites.
Equine Colar Genetics: 2ed Ed.       Iowa State Press.       by Dr. Phillip Sponenberg (considered the authority on the subject.)
Coat Color Genetics
Equine Color.com

Copyright © Garry & Susan Stahl: October 2004. All rights reserved, re-printed with permission.
Formatted and Modified by Bryan Rutherford for the campaign world of Traykon and 3rd Edition.
Original article is hosted HERE or email me to use this version.
No part of this page is open gaming content.