Sapient Steed

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
Those old war horses never shut up.

Whether chatty horses, philosophical dragon mounts, or calculating camels, some characters have modes of transportation that talk back.

Useful because it justifies/averts Automaton Horses, as well as providing sage advice, companionship, and enabling some really cool stunts.

Subtrope of Sapient Pet. Compare A Boy and His X, Living Ship, and Spaceship Girl. Prone to Horsing Around if you piss them off. See also: Bond Creatures and Mechanical Horse. For non-living intelligent rides, see Sentient Vehicle.

Examples of Sapient Steed include:

Anime and Manga

Comic Books

  • Lucky Luke's horse, Jolly Jumper, sometimes plays chess (as shown above). Once he was fishing without Luke's help.

Fairy Tales

  • Falada in "The Goose Girl", in the original Grimm story and all adaptations, such as Shannon Hale's novel by the same name.

Fan Works



  • Dilvish's steed, a steel horse that's the embodiment of a demon, in Roger Zelazny's Dilvish the Damned.
  • Eshinarvash and other Wise Horses from the Firekeeper series of books are sapient and intelligent, they only lack the ability to speak to humans other than Firekeeper (and, later, Derian). The people of Liglim can work around this somewhat, through use of rituals and divination they use to read omens of the future.
  • Jane and the Dragon.
  • In The Silmarillion, the hound Huan allows Lúthien to ride him. Although his nature is never quite clear, he is very much in animal form, obviously sentient and even speaks three times.
  • In The Chronicles of Narnia, some horses and most unicorns talk; this is most prominent in The Horse and His Boy. The two main horses in that book have quite humorous personalities, especially with Bree trying to figure out what is acceptable for a talking horse, having grown up among dumb ones.
    • Although it is slightly subverted when it's noted that in Narnia talking horses are only ridden in times of war and that suggesting they be ridden except in great emergencies is very rude.
  • The Neverending Story has Falcor. Artax also talks in the book.
  • A Spell for Chameleon and The Source of Magic, the first two novels in Piers Anthony's Xanth series. Bink rides Cherie Centaur, who is intelligent and can speak (like all centaurs).
  • The Companions in Mercedes Lackey's Heralds of Valdemar are Standard Issue. Those recruited late in life have occasionally expressed their annoyance, especially as said steeds are mentally bonded to their riders.
    • Companions aren't horses, and tend to get quite insulted when somebody refers to them as such. They're high-level Guardian Spirits who have taken on a four-legged form as a matter of convenience.
    • Mercedes Lackey's urban fantasies feature Elven Steeds, who can also turn into cars. Or motorcycles, or whatever they feel like, really.. They don't talk but are quite intelligent nonetheless. There are a few occasions where it's hinted that they can communicate, mostly by flashing their headlights, but can't actually talk.
  • In Christoffer Stasheff's Grammarye series, Rod Gallowglass's horse is actually a cybernetic body and a basketball-sized computer. His name is "Fess" and he's effectively epileptic, since there's a connection that overheats and blows when he encounters something he isn't programmed to deal with... like magic. The reset button is in the pommel of the saddle.
  • In P.C. Hodgell's Chronicles of the Kencyrath series, the almost immortal Whinno-hir breed of horses understand speech and frequently establish mental links with chosen Kencyr people. They do not speak, but can make themselves understood; they appear to be near human in intelligence. They appear to be able to take human form for brief periods. The carnivorous, armored unicorn-like rathorns, meanwhile, appear to be as intelligent as dolphins or chimpanzees; while they do not have anything like speech, they can still convey fairly complicated concepts over a mental link or with e.g. body language.
  • The smallest dragons in the Temeraire series play this straight, while most of the others (including the title character) straddle this trope and Living Ship.
  • Coursers in The War Gods Series by David Weber. Even given citizenship, but they can't talk to any except their bonded riders or Magi.
    • One of them bonded with a Champion (the series equivalent of Paladins) and as a consequence ended up becoming a Champion himself.
  • Inverted in Belgariad with Hettar, a Horse Lord, capable of speaking to horses and understanding them in return. Since it's not tied to a specific mount, he can do it with any horse he happens to be riding.
    • Garion also figures out how to do it, though the horse he tries it on is young, and not too bright, so it doesn't work too well.
  • Cohen the Barbarian has a talking horse in the Discworld short story "Troll Bridge". He hadn't known it was magical when he got it, and if he'd known it was going to complain all the time, he wouldn't have bothered. He's got rid of it by Interesting Times.
    • Binky, Death's Horse might be up to this level, but it's never actually stated just 'how much' more intelligent he is than normal. He doesn't talk, though.
    • Camels, even if they can't talk, are still brilliant mathematicians and intelligent enough to pour disdain on their owners.
  • In Eragon, dragon-riders can talk to their dragons. Dragons can also talk to other people if they connect to that persons mind.
  • In Terry Pratchett's The Dark Side of the Sun, some of the Mechanical Horses are Class 5 robots, making them human for all intents and purposes.
  • Anna and her descendants in Leo Frankowski's Conrad Stargard series are guessed to be about as intelligent as a 6-8 year old. Within the books, it's indicated that they might even be smarter than that, but have been hiding their abilities since they're essentially genetically engineered slaves.
  • The titular alien dragons of the Dragonriders of Pern series are telepathic and intelligent. They can speak to other dragons, firelizards (their genetic precursors), their own riders, and the very rare humans with greater telepathic potential who can communicate with all dragons. One difference in dragon and human mentality is that dragons don't have a very strong grasp of the past or the future and mostly live in the here and now.
  • The Titanides of the Gaea Trilogy do not mind being ridden. Especially when the alternative is checking their speed on behalf of the slowpoke humans.
  • The Skybax in Dinotopia, although you have to either speak their language to communicate, or have a translator Protoceratops around.(with the exception of Windchaser, who did speak human.) And a ton of other dinosaurs in the series as well.
  • Used a few times in Animorphs, when Cassie morphs horse. Once, she's in horse morph with Tobias in Hork-Bajir morph on her back.
  • The wargs in The Lord of the Rings that orcs use as mounts are not dumb beasts, but intelligent monsters allied with Sauron's hordes. A common saying in Middle Earth is, "Where the warg howl, the orcs prowl."

Live-Action TV

  • In the 1998 Merlin-1998 miniseries, Merlin has a horse named Sir Rupert. He can talk. This is not explained in the show itself, but if you read the novelization it'll tell you why.
  • Mister Ed is a horse, of course.
  • Yu Lung, a.k.a. "Horse", the horse who is really a dragon from Monkey.
  • Brisco County Jr. seems to carry on intelligent conversations with Comet 'the wonder horse'.

Tabletop Games

  • The Dungeons & Dragons Dragonlance setting had many Dragon Riders whose dragon mounts could talk.
    • Inverted in one short scenario from Dungeon Adventures magazine, in which an evil spellcaster used a feeblemind spell to render a centaur druid mindless, then hitched him up to pull a wagon. The PCs must rescue this unlucky sentient being from the fate of an unspeaking beast of burden.
    • Paladins' mounts have an Intelligence of at least 6 (not as smart as the average Humanoid (10) but smarter than any animal (1 or 2), and they get smarter as the Paladin gains levels.
    • There are quite a few creatures—most commonly worgs or nightmares—that are smart enough to be considered sapient or even learn to speak intelligibly but traditionally serve as mounts for other creatures.
  • Rifts took it a step further with Blood Lizards and Psi-Ponies, who were not only intelligent, but you could even use them as a Player Character.

Video Games

  • The Legend of Zelda:
    • In The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, Midna treats Link like this whenever he is a wolf, making him the Sapient Steed - though not really of the most talkative kind.
      • While she doesn't have much to say, Epona is also able to speak to Link, but only while he is a wolf.
    • The Oracle games feature some rather unusual mounts in Ricky, Moosh, and Dimitri, who are a kangaroo, a flying bear, and a dodongo, respectively. All of them can talk.
  • In the background, the Drakes, Hippogryphs and Wyverns players can fly in World of Warcraft are all sentient beings. Drakes in particular are as intelligent as humans and can even speak. However, in-game they act like all other mounts, though there are a few quests where the player flies on a Drake or Dragon that does speak.
  • Yoshi of the Super Mario series. In his first appearance, he can speak and seeks out Mario as an ally. Later appearances alternately depict him and the Yoshi race with a distinct language that the main Yoshi translates or a shared common language. They've also been shown to have some culture, and build shelters as well as monuments.
  • In the backstory of The Elder Scrolls games, there's a type of Khajiit that's basically a tiger somewhere between a horse and an elephant in size. They're just as intelligent as the other Khajiit, but they're used as steeds in battle.
  • In Ace Combat 3: Electrosphere you turn out to be one.[context?]
  • In NetHack, centaurs are among the eligible steed candidates - they're actually solid choices too, with the ability to wield weapon and wear any armor that isn't boots, though the main drawback is their low HP cap.

Web Comics

  • In Gunnerkrigg Court, the Model H's can be chatty. One of them in particular recites Paradise Lost while transporting the girls to the barbershop.
  • Ultra Car of the Walkyverse is kind of a Jerkass and has been known to leave his co-workers in the Amazon.
  • Arthur from Faux Pas fills the role, as do some others from time to time.
  • In UNA Frontiers, there are Shiratz, an ancient alien probe built to look like a convincing horse, and the G.E.M.'s - a subspecies of genetically modified Morgan horses about as intelligent as dolphins or gorillas in general. Some of them have "high talent", i.e., psychic abilities to boot.
  • Charismatic Seaweed, who is Eva's special Paladin Mount in Our Little Adventure.

Western Animation

"One more crack like that and you're walking!"

  • Used, of course, in My Little Pony on those rare occasions where a primary character gives a biped a ride, such as My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic's Twilight Sparkle being ridden by Spike in the episode "A Dog and Pony Show".
    • In "The Best Night Ever" two stallions pull the ladies' carriage to the Grand Galloping Gala. Just like any other horse in this world, they're sentient and self-aware, and kindly tell Spike to piss off when he whips them.
    • In the pilot, Twilight Sparkle rides a flying chariot pulled by a pair of pegasi. It seems to be Equestria's equivalent of a taxi.
    • If the My Little Pony toys count, then the titular ponies of all the various animated series probably should, too.
    • Rainbow Dash is about 20% cooler than your average Cool Horse.
  • Wildfire, from the '80s cartoon of the same name, was a massive black talking horse whose life's mission was to protect Princess Sarah until she grew up sufficiently to get her magical kingdom back.
  • She-Ra's horse Spirit, who could transform (with She-Ra's help) into her flying, talking unicorn Swift Wind. One episode revealed that the planet of Etheria was home to an entire island of talking winged unicorns.