Horses are one of the most useful companions in Minecraft. They're passive and never attack you even in the wild, but a tamed horse can be a great help as you explore the world. Given the right conditions, you can even breed horses.
- Minecraft horses: what do they do?
- Donkeys and Mules
- How to tame horses in Minecraft
- How to breed horses in Minecraft
- Horse genetics
Minecraft horses: what do they do?
It's all well and good learning how to breed horses, but why would you want to?
A tamed horse can be saddled and ridden, with the player able to control the horse's movements. The world of Minecraft is huge and horses can travel quicker than your running speed, so they provide a good vehicle for exploration.
You can also farm horses for resources. Adult horses drop leather scraps and experience points when killed (but you don't get anything for killing foals, you monster).
They're also super cute and — with up to 35 different varieties of coat markings — getting an example of every horse added to your stable is a challenge all of its own.
Donkeys and Mules
Horses aren't the only equines in Minecraft: you also get donkeys and mules.
Horses, donkeys, and mules are nearly identical. They can all be saddled and used as transportation in exactly the same way; they have the same maximum stats; and if you decide to kill one it will drop the same resources. However, there are just a few key differences:
- Only horses can be equipped with horse armour. This protects the horse from taking a certain amount of damage if attacked.
- Donkeys and mules can be equipped with a chest. This adds an extra 15 inventory slots that you can use on the move.
- Donkeys and mules have a single character model each, without the variety of coat markings and colours seen in horses.
- Wild horses spawn with random stats, while wild donkeys spawn with low-end stats. Mules don't spawn in the wild and must be bred.
- Mules are sterile and cannot produce offspring. To breed more mules, you need to breed a horse with a donkey.
How to tame horses in Minecraft
Before you can breed horses, you need to tame them.
To tame a wild horse, you just need to mount it (interact with the horse using Use with an empty hand). You'll inevitably be bucked off on your first few tries, but eventually the horse will be tamed.
That's all you actually need to know, but if you're interested in the numbers behind it, here's how taming works under the hood.
Horses have a Temper metre on a scale of 0-100. Wild horses always start with 0 Temper, and the first time you mount them the game assigns them a "Temper threshold" with a value anywhere between 0-99. Each time you mount the horse they gain +5 Temper. When you overcome the threshold, the horse is tamed. Therefore, the maximum number of attempts it takes to tame a horse is 20.
How to breed horses in Minecraft
Any two horses can be bred with each other in Minecraft: there are no defined genders in the game, so there are no limits on which horses can be bred with each other. You can also breed donkeys under the same conditions, or even breed a horse and a donkey to produce a mule.
In order for two equines to breed, they need to be in love mode.
To get your tamed animals into this amorous frame of mind, you need to feed them each either a golden apple or a golden carrot. These can't be grown and are primarily gained through crafting (though you can also find them when looting chests). To craft either item, you need eight gold ingots and one piece of the original food.
If two equines in the same area are in love mode, they with mate with each other and produce a baby.
Foals and other baby equines in Minecraft inherit a number of traits from their parents — so it's possible to breed them in a way that encourages certain characteristics. However, there's still an element of randomness involved.
HP, speed, and jump height are averaged out from the stats of both parents and a randomly generated third set of stats.
Coat markings have a 40% chance of being inherited from either parent, or a 20% of being another random colour.
In effect, each horse you breed has an invisible third parent, whose stats shake up the certainty of breeding the traits you want. However, there's still a very high chance that the foal will have its breeding parents' characteristics. This is especially true when breeding two horses with similar stats.
If you're looking for Minecraft inspiration, check out our guide on Best Minecraft Seeds you can play right now.
Or if you're interested in modding your game, have a look at our guide to the Best Minecraft Mods.