A Horse of a Different Colour indeed - and an entirely different nature. Combining the coolness of a horse with the tireless reliability of a machine, the Mechanical Horse is, at its most basic level, a motorbike with legs. The Mechanical Horse will usually be a robot, but some Steampunk universes feature clockwork horses.
The idea is not quite as ludicrous as it sounds. Biological horses can walk on vastly more kinds of terrain than a wheeled vehicle (not to mention they are perfectly amphibious), and it would be quite useful if there were a machine that could do the same thing. But engineers find it very challenging to overcome all of the problems with moving around on legs, on any uneven surface, without falling down. As an odd example, the US military once funded experimentation into a "walking truck", a horse-like machine designed as an all-terrain mount and transport. (It looks really weird.)
Not to be confused with horses treated like machines, or the identically-named vintage vehicle. A really big mechanical horse with some of the animal traits taken away and some weapons added is basically a Spider Tank.
- Sengoku Basara: Date Masamune has a motorbike horse. That's all that needs to be said.
- Gundam Unicorn. The titular mecha is white and has a unicorn horn on its head.
- Vampire Hunter D has a Cool Cyborg Horse, as his stories are set in 12,000 A.D.
- The novels however state that his cyborg horses (he goes through several) are just standard model with nothing special about them in the context of the setting, but somehow he manages to make them incredibly fast and agile just by sitting on their back.
- X and Shadow, although Kirins, are essentially Cool Horses AND literal Mechanical Horses too. Those that let you breath in space
- The Animatrix has a few robots riding robotic horses into combat.
- The Count in Gankutsuou has a hovering carriage drawn by mechanical horses.
- G Gundam gives us Fuunsaiki, a Mecha horse piloted by an actual horse.
- Which was likely inspired by SD Gundam, which frequently featured mechanical horses due to its heavy use of samurai and knight settings. Some characters (such as Musha Zeta and Knight Gundam), even have centaur forms where they can combine with their steed. Perhaps topping them all, Ryofu Tallgeese in the current (as of early 2009) series SD Gundam BB Senshi Sangokuden has a powerful robotic horse that can also transform into a motorbike.
- Onimusha 2 has one, which Jubei and Oyu ride once and then leave in a stable, despite there being so many points where a mechanical horse would have come in handy. And no-one ever blinks an eyelid about the horse itself, despite them being in medieval Japan and all other machines being evil.
- Saber Rider's Steed and April's Nova in Saber Rider and the Star Sheriffs.
- In Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust, it appears D's horse is either a cyborg or a robot; when one is destroyed early in the film, mechanical parts go flying rather than blood.
- D later goes to a cyborg horse stable to order a new one.
- It's expressly stated in the first Vampire Hunter D novel that the horses are cyborgs.
- D later goes to a cyborg horse stable to order a new one.
- There is a robotic horse children guide (along with other robotic animals) in a theme park in Crest of the Stars. The protagonists enlist its help in escaping, resulting an a Chase Scene.
- According to the Mystery Science Theater 3000 classic children’s' film Santa Claus, our hero's sleigh is pulled by hideous giggling clockwork reindeer. This was, of course, the Trope Namer for Nightmare Fuel.
- A clockwork horse features prominently in the Arabian Nights based movie The Thief of Bagdad as well. Jaffar offers it to The Sultan of Basra, a toy collector, in exchange for his daughter. (See also Literature, below.)
- Older Than Print: One of the Arabian Nights stories features a clockwork horse. (See also Film, above.)
- The Dark Side of the Sun, a science fiction novel by Terry Pratchett, features robot horses on a world of nothing but Mechanical Lifeforms. The horses are sapient, and have a philosophical outlook on life.
- Pratchett's later book Strata, contains a similar mechanical horse that can fly. The book says it runs on magic.
- The Diamond Age by Neal Stephenson has mechanical horses; one of the main characters is given one with directions preprogrammed into it as a way of taking him to a secret location.
- Interesting in that they're specifically mentioned as being capable of using different gaits: galloping like a horse on smooth, level terrain, but more like a big cat when walking on steep, uneven terrain.
- In Roger Zelazny's Dilvish, the Damned and the sequel, The Changing Land, Dilvish had a talking metal horse named Black (which was... black). Not exactly a Mecha Horse, as we find out that it is some kind of creature, possibly a demon, who agreed to help him in his quest according to a deal they made while they were in Hell.
- Do cyborg horses count? China Mieville's Bas-Lag, the world of Perdido Street Station, includes Remade horses as well as criminals.
- "The Quest for Saint Aquin," a 1951 short story by Anthony Boucher, had the priest protagonist using an artificially intelligent "robass," which happened to be an atheist.
- Jules Verne's steam elephant from "The Steam House" is an early example.
- Stephen King's Dark Tower novel Wolves Of The Calla". The "wolves" that kidnap children from the town of Calla Bryn Sturgis every generation appear as wolf-masked riders, but are actually robots mounted on mechanical horses.
- In The Marran God of Fire by Aleksandr Volkov (one of the Tales of the Magic Land series), there are two mechanical mules built by Alfred Cunning for Ellie Smith and her friend Tim O'Kelly. The children name them Caesar and Hannibal and ride them to the Magical Land, where the mechanical mounts become alive and, like the dog Totoshka, are able to talk.
- The Hephaestus cabin from Percy Jackson and The Olympians made some mechanical horses for a chariot race.
- In the Warlock of Gramaraye series, this overlaps with Sapient Steed, as the main character's horse, Fess, is a highly intelligent AI placed in a mechanical horse.
- In Garo, the eponymous Makai Knight gets one of these upon slaying 100 Horrors. It's awesome. He can even transform his sword into a BFS while riding it.
- In Mahou Sentai Magiranger and its counterpart Power Rangers Mystic Force, The Dragon has a Hellish Horse from the underworld that can grow giant, and turn into a horse mecha. He can combine with it to form a mecha-centaur, and then further combine with it to form a horse-based Megazord. The Hero can form this Megazord as well, and they later one-upped themselves by giving him his own mecha unicorn.
- And a later villain has a chariot pulled by two similar mecha-horses.
- In a Doctor Who Expanded Universe audio, it's revealed the Cybermen had first cyberconverted horses. The result is Hellish Horse, as by Cyberman norm, it's a corpse laden with cybernetics.
- Dungeons & Dragons's Eberron campaign setting features automaton horses.
- Not to mention the Stone Horse items in the 3rd edition Dungeon Masters Guide. But they're awful, so I won't talk about them too much.
- In the tabletop RPG Exalted, some characters can create horse-like constructs of bonded magical energy.
- Rifts features both Robot and Bionic horses.
- Warhammer 40,000, in addition to fully robotic mounts, has heavily augmented bionic horses, cyber-wolves and cyber-boars.
- Mogul Kamir of the Attilan Rough Riders is an example, known for previously riding a lot of horses to death.
- And Warhammer Fantasy features the mechanical horse. This is sufficiently ridiculous for even the distinctively over-the-top Warhammer world that many Empire players consider it Fanon Discontinuity. Empire army book author Graham McNeill considers it the Empire's attempt to invent the car.
- Magic the Gathering has the Bronze Horse, Clockwork Steed, Workhorse, and Chrome Steed. Hero of Bladehold and Hero of Oxid Ridge can be seen riding Chrome Steeds as well.
- Deadlands features mechanical pack mules available through a company specializing in weird-science products.
- Fallout 3 has an ad for "Giddyup Buttercup" ("The Ultimate in Equestrian Robotics!") appear in multiple locations. In the Mothership Zeta add-on you find a room full of them in the alien mothership - along with a number of dead aliens that have apparently been kicked to death.
- The Mechanostriders (mechanical ostriches) from World of Warcraft.
- The Genesis game Alien Solider has Wolfgunblood Garopa as boss of Stage 23, who is a mechanical cowboy wolf with a machine-gun pistol riding one of these.
- The Aussenseiter in Super Robot Wars is piloted by a person, but transforms into a horse. All together now: "Real Men Ride Each Other".
- One of the challenges in Syberia II is how to repair a group of horse automata (no, not Automaton Horses!) that "dance" on stage in a tavern. They can't be ridden anywhere, but they're kinda fun to watch.
- Robot Unicorn Attack, only the best online game Adult Swim has ever offered on their website.
- BioShock (series) Infinite features mechanical horses, though strangely enough, real horses are still found in Columbia. Perhaps the transition from living equine to robot ones was recent.
- According to the Bioshock website, the mechanical horses called Automated Stallions were meant to replace horses on Columbia that were more likely fall off the floating city when startled by weather conditions and enemy attacks.
- The Defiant faction in Rift can get "eldritch steeds", which play the trope straight with Magitek.
- In Final Fantasy XIII, the transformed Odin is a mecha warhorse that inexplicably wafts rose petals in it's wake.
- In Onimusha 2, Jubei finds a strange metal sphere with an indentation bearing the word "Faith." When Jubei uses the Faith Orb given to him by Oyu on the sphere it unpacks into a mechanical horse.
- In Gunnerkrigg Court, carriages are drawn by the Model-H's: intricate robotic horses that spout Milton as they slouch apocalyptically toward their destination.
- Gertrude, Brunhilda & Nikki of the webcomic The KAMics received mechanical pegasi as a gift from the webcomic Magical Misfits. Nikki's pegasus was shown to convert into a convertible.
- Shiratz in UNA Frontiers is a 4,000-year-old alien probe that looks like a rather smallish but refined Pinto riding horse. He is realistic enough to pass a non-invasive veterinary inspection.
- One of the accomplishments of the Spark known as the Iron Sheik is that he built a Mechanical Camel.
- Bill and Barry Heterodyne rode to Mechanicsburg on horse clanks faster than possible when they herd about the attack.
- In the Whateley Universe, Stalwart likes to go around in Arthurian-looking Powered Armor he built himself. He has a robot horse he rides too. It still breaks down a lot. He is only in high school.
- The then prolific cartoonist and programming evangelist _why alleged the Django Pony was not in fact a real winged unicorn but a outright fabrication. There's no magic! It's all Python all the way down
- Robot Unicorn of the Robot Unicorn Attack flash game may not be a steed, but it's... a robot unicorn. That trails rainbows. And has a magical rainbow dash attack. How much cooler can you get?
- Bravestarr had a talking cyborg horse named 30-30, who could switch between humanoid and quadruped forms, and served as his deputy. And carried a shotgun to boot.
- Adventures of the Galaxy Rangers has robo-horses, since many newly settled planets lack roads for wheeled vehicles.
- The fan-favorite He-Man and the Masters of the Universe episode "Origin of the Sorceress" also featured Stri-Dor, Man-At-Arms' hand-built robot mount for He-Man, which Cringer/Battle Cat viewed with no small amount of distaste. It even got a Heroic Sacrifice-turned-Disney Death fighting a villain called...wait for it...Morgoth the Terrible.
- The Rankin Bass special Jack Frost has the villain, Kubla Krauss, riding a Steampunk mechanical horse called "Clangstomper."
- Kim Possible has a few of them in the episode 'Showdown at Crooked D'. Her uncle has a technologically advanced ranch where the horses are the norm.
- The Rainbow Brite movie Rainbow Brite and the Star Stealer. (the one with "Spectra", the diamond-planet) features a talking, flying
CylonCyber Horse called On-X (pronounced "Onyx"), for Brite's Spear Counterpart Krys (pronounced "Chris").
- One of Heloise's many inventions on Jimmy Two-Shoes, which she intended to pull a carriage for her and Jimmy.
- On Batman the Brave And The Bold, Jonah Hex, a Wild West Bounty Hunter stranded in the future, rides a robotic horse.
- Samurai Jack: Occured when Jack was fighting off cowboys in a steam-punk based future part of The Wild West. Instead of legs, the robot steeds hovered above the ground.
- [Codename:KidsNextDoor\] had a similar formula in one episode where gang of cowboy-style robbers staged a hold-up on the school bus where the eponymous team gang is waiting to be taken to school. They all ride jet-powered mechanical ponies.
- And again in [Batman:TheBraveAndTheBold\] where fellow anti-hero Jonah Hex rode on a sleek mechanical horse-like robot after being dragged from his timeline by Mongul to have warriors fight in his "War World", again taking place in a futuristic Wild West setting.
- Dexter's Laboratory: Although shown only briefly, a few mechanical horses galloped along Dee-dee (who transformed into a horse after begging her brother to turn her into a pony) as part of a testing ground assessing the stengths of her new body.
- One of the early projects of automobile, back in the 1800s, included a papier-mâché wheeled horse with engine inside. The idea was to make it less scary to other horses (and some of the more conservative folks as well). And no, I am not making this up.
- The BigDog mechanical mule.
- A concept design by Jason Battersby has a real-life version. Called the Nomad, it even gets energy from eating vegetation .