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Skyrim is a huge region composed of majestic mountains, wide-open tundra, and dense forests. There are hundreds of locations to visit, and the best horses in Skyrim will get you from point A to B in the shortest time and will also provide extra damage in battle.
Ridable horses were introduced in The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, all be it very clunky. Horses would make a return in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim but were almost cut from the game.
Bottom Line-Up Front
If you haven’t got time to read the entire article, don’t worry; I’ve got your back. Here is all the important information you need in bite-sized chunks.
There aren’t too many horses in Skyrim that have differing stats; therefore, I’ve thrown the Immersive Horses mod and Wild Horses Creation Club DLC into the mix. These two expansions overhaul horses in Skyrim by adding new types of horses, features, and rebalancing breeds and stats.
If you’re playing Vanilla Skyrim, Shadowmere is by far the best horse in the game due to its high health, health regeneration, and melee damage. If you’re playing with the Wild Horses and Immersive Horses mod, then the best horse in the game is between Shadowmere and Frost, although it completely depends on what you want out of your horse.
- Frost – Is the fastest horse in the game and is immune to Frost damage. Moreover, Frost has had a buff to its Stamina and Health, giving him more than enough survivability in combat.
- Shadowmere – Has been given even more Health, improved melee damage, and Stamina, and will respawn back in the Dark Pool if it dies.
I think Frost is the best horse in Skyrim, while the Immersive Horses mod and Wild Horses addons are active, as faster traveling speeds are the main reason I’d use a horse.
- Arvak – This is a great choice for a sorcerer and Conjuration magic specialist, as it can be summoned using a spell.
- Unicorn – Has fantastic stats rivaling Shadowmere but doesn’t receive any buffs from the Immersive Horses mod.
- Daedric Horse – The Daedric Horse is superior to Arvak. However, it is only available if you own The Cause DLC.
- Dwarven Horse – The Strongest horse in the game, it cannot die and takes no fall damage. This horse can even sprint forever. However, to acquire the Dwarven Horse, you need the Forgotten Seasons DLC installed.
Before we can begin distinguishing the best horses in Skyrim, we’ve got to establish what factors make a great horse companion in Skyrim. There are five types of common horse breeds that the player can obtain in Skyrim:
- Black – Whiterun Stables
- Bay – Windhelm Stables
- Dapple Grey – Riften Stables
- Piebald – Markarth Stables
- Palomino – Katla’s Farm
However, these horse breeds don’t differ in stats and speed, only in color. Therefore I had to take the following into account to create this list:
- Regular horses that can be purchased at major city stables like Whiterun Stables are common horses with the same stats. Therefore the horses on this list must shine above the vanilla Skyrim horses.
- Skyrim is an old game, and The Elder Scrolls V: Anniversary Edition and The Elder Scrolls V: Special Edition added new DLC to the game via the Creation Club. Skyrim players likely own this. Therefore, I decided to add the Wild Horses Creation Club DLC.
- The Immersive Horses mod collectively has over three million downloads. These are significant numbers. Therefore, I’ve considered the two mods to create this list.
- Level: 20
- Health: 497
- Stamina: 238
The Wild Horses Creation Club addon introduces seven wild horses and a Unicorn into Skyrim to be broken. Each of the horse wild horse breeds, excluding the Unicorn, has the same level and stats. Wild Horses are infinitely better than the common horse breeds brought in vanilla Skyrim. They have superior stats and levels and, unlike common horses, are classed as essential characters (making them invincible).
To break a Wild Horse, you must acquire the “Horse Whisperer” quest to receive a map showing the location of each wild horse in the game. You can find the following breeds of wild horses:
- Black Horse – Evergreen Grove
- Dappled Brown-Solitude Sawmill
- Grey Spotted – Salvius Farm
- Chestnut – Skybound Watch
- White Spotted – Stony Creek Cave
- Red – Whiterun
- Pale Mare – Yngol Barrow
Note that if you swap out a wild horse, it will return to the same location where you found it.
- Level: 4
- Health: 289 (Invincible)
- Stamina: 106
Technically the best horse in the game; that’s not in the game! Karinda is an off-roadin’ 4×4 tank that will never run out of Stamina, will never die, and is never available to the player; unless…
- Karinda can be spawned using the “Karinda player.placeatme” console command. While this is technically cheating, it’s the only way to get Karinda in the game. Who is this immortal horse, a long distant cousin to Shadowfax?
Skyrim is a huge game, there’s no doubt about that, and it carries all the quirks and bugs signature of a Bethesda game. Karinda was originally meant to be seen in “The Whispering Door” quest, where Frothar sacrifices Karinda, Dagny’s horse, to Mephala; however, this was removed in the final release of the game.
- You can acquire “The Whispering Door” quest by investigating Nelkir’s nightmarish story of a whispering lady behind a door in Whiterun. It’s a quest well worth your time, as you’ll be rewarded with the Ebony Blade!
Although cut from the game, Karinda remains hidden within the game files, neither alive nor dead, like a piece of thread that’s come loose off the rugged and worn sweater that is Skyrim. You can actually restore cut content to Skyrim to experience this version of the quest through the power of mods.
The Cutting Room Floor mod has over three and a half million downloads and features all the cut content Bethesda removed from the game. I highly recommend this mod if you want to experience an extended-cut version of Skyrim.
- Level: 25
- Health: 562
- Stamina: 148
Frost is the first unique horse on the list; Frost is significantly better than any of the horses that can be brought from major cities in Skyrim. Frost has significantly improved Stamina and Health, enabling you to gallop further without having to recharge Frost’s Stamina.
You can find Frost at the Black Briar Lodge East or Riften. However, you cannot acquire Frost until you’ve completed the “Promises to Keep” quest. Inside the Black-Briar Lodge, you’ll find Lineage Papers that confirm Frost’s lineage dates back to prominent horses in ancient history and the first Nords.
Frost: Immersive Horses
If you have the Immersive Horses mod installed, Frost gains the following improvements:
- Frost becomes the fastest horse in Skyrim.
- Frost becomes immune to Frost Damage.
- Frost is given even more Health, Stamina, Damage, and Carry Weight.
- If Frost dies, it will spawn back at the Black-Briar Stables!
It could be argued that the Immersive Horses mod over-tuned the horses. I personally love this, as horses are weak in vanilla Skyrim. Moreover, Frost’s lineage dates back to horses ridden by the first Nords. Such a legendary horse deserves more buffs.
- Level: 50
- Health: 1637
- Stamina: 198
Shadowmere is arguably the most loved horse in Skyrim, featuring a black-as-pitch coat and supernatural red eyes. It’s no wonder that Shadowmere is given to the player after completing the Dark Brotherhood quest “A Cure For Madness.” Where the player is given a choice to either spare Cicero or kill him.
It’s no surprise, either, as Lucien Lachance originally owned Shadowmere. Yep the guy who recruits you into the Dark Brotherhood in The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion.
Shadowmere has the best health out of all the unique horses. Still, thats not all Shadowmere has fast health regeneration making Shadowmere a tanky horse. It also has great damage output and is arguably the best horse in vanilla Skyrim.
Shadowmere: Immersive Horses
The Immersive Horses mod makes Shadowmere even more overpowered by making the following improvements:
- It improves Shadowmere’s Health, Stamina, and melee Damage further.
- Shadowmere will respawn in the Dark Pool outside of the Dark Brotherhood Sanctuary located in the Falkreath Hold.
- Shadowmere is now faster than most horses in the game but not faster than Frost.
While I don’t see the point of buffing Shadowmere’s health any further, increasing Shadowmere’s speed is a welcome improvement to the horse. The horses in Skyrim, including common and unique, need a speed boost across the board.
- Level: 4
- Health: 289
- stamina: 106
Arvak is a unique horse, both visually and in its functionality. Unlike common and other unique horses, Arvak is summoned through magic, much like summoning a Familiar from the Conjuration school of magic. You may think Arvak doesn’t have much health compared to other horses in the game. However, this spectral horse does not need high health as Arvak can be spawned at its owner’s will, practically making Arvak invincible.
To acquire Arvak, you must find his skull in the Soul Cairn during the “Find Arvak’s Skull” quest. You can obtain the quest by talking to the soul that is shouting for Arvak near the entrance of the Soul Cairn. While in the Soul Cairn, the player can mount Arvak and ride through otherwise blocked areas. Moreover, if the player has unlocked the Twin Souls perk from the Conjuration skill tree, they can summon two Arvak’s!
Arvak: Immersive Horses
Arvak has the least amount of changes in the Immersive Horses mod of any horse:
- Arvak now has infinite Stamina.
- His inventory is inaccessible.
Although only two changes and only one was an improvement. I still recommend the Immersive Horses mod if you’re using Arvak, as infinite Stamina is very useful. Arvak can basically gallop forever across Skyrim, which makes sense since he’s an undead horse.
Moreover, every horse in the Immersive Horses mod is granted a speed boost, so you’ve got yourself an infinite NOS-fueled Horse. Arvak is a great choice if you’re a mage, as the Immersive Horses mod enables players to cast magic while mounted on horseback.
- Level: 50
- Health: 1637
- Stamina: 698
The Unicorn is a unique horse only available for players that own the Wild Horses Creation Club. The Unicorn can be found close to the Lost Prospect Mine during the “Creature of Legend” quest. Just like the other horses in the Wild Horses Creation Club DLC, you will have to break the Unicorn.
The Unicorn is up there as one of the best horses in Skyrim; it has incredible health rivaling Shadwomere and has more Stamina than you could ever need. Unfortunately, the Unicorn and other content from Wild Horses are not supported by Immersive Horses. Therefore, you won’t get any of the horse improvements or features.
Moreover, the Creation Club Wild Horses – Immersive Horses Compatibility Patch mod no longer works and needs to be updated. However, the Unicorn is compatible with the free Creation Club DLC: Horse Armor – Elven and Horse Armor – Steel.
If you are roleplaying an evil character, you’ve got plenty of options regarding your mount. However, Shadowmere and Arvak aren’t great choices for a player roleplaying a holy mage or paladin. The Unicorn adds some diversity to the mix and is a great choice for a mage or good-aligned character.
If you swap the Unicorn for another horse, it will return to the College of Winterhold.
- Level: 50
- Health: 1637
- Stamina: 198
The Daedric Horse is another Creation Club addon and is included in The Cause DLC. The Daedric Horse works similarly to Arvak but is far superior to him. The Daedric Horse has a large enough health pool to withstand most fights. Moreover, the Daedric Horse technically cannot die as it is summoned through Conjuration Magic.
To acquire the Daedric Horse, you must travel to the Deadlands and defeat Valkyn Gatanas and his Daedric horse during “The Consequences” quest. You can find a Daedric Horse Spell Tome. However, there is a small chance that you can loot the Daedric Horse Spell Tome in the world.
If you own The Cause Creation Club, I highly recommend you acquire the Daedric Horse, as you can summon a horse whenever and wherever you like. The Daedric Horse is among the best horses in the game and far superior to Arvak.
Once summoned, the Daedric Horse will stay in the world for a minute before despawning. However, if you are riding the Daedric Horse, it will only despawn once you dismount it. The Daedric Horse is good for transport and acts as a tank in battle.
- Level: 50
- Health: 1637
- Stamina: 198
The Dwarven Horse is added to the Forgotten Seasons Creation Club DLC. The Dwarven Horse is arguably one of the strongest horses in the game. It features the same health regenerative abilities as Shadowmere, cannot take fall damage, and has infinite Stamina!
The Dwarven Horse is a mechanical horse crafted by the Dwemer and can be found within Runoff Caverns during the “The Dwarven Horse” quest, where the player must reassemble the mount.
- You will find the body of the Dwarven Horse outside of Runoff Cavern.
The Dwarven Horse’s stats, ability to take no fall damage and infinite stamina make it great for jumping off mountains and galloping over long distances. That said, the Dwarven Horse is slower than Frost, while the Immersive Horses mod is active. Moreover, you won’t even be able to get access to the Dwarven Horse if you don’t have the Forgotten Seasons Creation Club.
Question: How to Tame Wild Horses From the Wild Horses Creation Club Addon in Skyrim?
Answer: First, the player must purchase the Wild Horse Map to discover each Wild Horse’s location. To tame a horse, you must ride the horse until it no longer bucks you. Once this step is complete, you’ll have to purchase a saddle from any stable master.
Question: Will My Horse Return to My House Stables in the Hearthfire DLC?
Answer: If the horse was brought from your steward, then the horse will return to the specific house stables. However, if you dismount a horse with no ties to your Hearthfire house like Frost, it will wait wherever you left it.
Question: How Does Mounted Combat Work in Vanilla Skyrim?
Answer: Mounted combat was added to vanilla Skyrim in the 1.6 patch. Both One-handed weapons and Two-handed weapons can be used from horseback.
The player can also use bows and make use of combat perks. While you can dual-wield while on horseback, only your right weapon will be used, but you can still make use of the Dual Flurry perk.
You cannot cast magic or use staves or Bound Weapons mounted on a horse in Skyrim. Moreover, you cannot block while on horseback as the block binding key or button acts as a left attack.
The horses in this list are the best horses in Skyrim. Shadowmere is arguably the best horse in vanilla Skyrim. Arvak takes second place for me because although you can summon Arvak whenever you like, it is technically invincible. It falls short in combat; Shadowmere’s health regeneration and combat prowess are unmatched.
Some players have probably gone through an entire playthrough without acquiring a horse. This is because horses in vanilla Skyrim are relatively weak and offer little benefit outside of a faster travel speed. Therefore, I highly recommend installing the Immersive Horses mod or Convenient Horses mod, as this overhauls the horses in Skyrim, improving their speed and stats and rebalancing each breed of horse.
Moreover, the mods add new features such as herds, where players can own multiple horses and even level their horse’s attributes. Other features expand immersion enabling you to brush, talk and care for your horse. If you like the idea of horses in Skyrim, then consider the Wild Horses Creation Club add-on. This expands horse features further in Skyrim by adding the unique Unicorn horse and common wild horses that can be tamed.