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Mordhau horses guide - horseback combat tips, how to counter mounted enemies

Neigh, good sir!

Horses and horseback riders are the bane of many players' existence in the larger maps of Mordhau, Triternion's terrific medieval brawler. True to life, these deadly warhorses are extremely powerful and valuable assets to your team, and with a skilled rider they can be very difficult to handle. That is, unless you read through all the tips located in this here Mordhau horseback combat guide. Below I've detailed not only where to find and how to use horses to the best of your ability, but all the best strategies when it comes to countering mounted enemies.

This horseback combat guide is an offshoot of my main (and highly in-depth) Mordhau melee combat guide, so definitely check that out if you're after the top tips on how to defeat any player you come across in single combat. And while I've got your attention, why not also check out our main Mordhau guide, which is packed with beginner's explanations and advanced tips - not to mention links to all other areas of our guide series, from Mordhau weapons and stats to the most powerful Mordhau builds/loadouts, and much more.

Mordhau horseback combat guide - how to make good use of (and counter) horses

Time to gallop full steam ahead (I may be mixing my metaphors a little here) into all the best tips and strategies relating to horseback and mounted combat in Mordhau. Click on any of the links below to skip ahead to a specific section.

Mordhau horses overview - how to use them, where to find them
Mordhau horseback combat tips - how to kill, joust, and remain seated
How to counter horses and horseback riders in Mordhau

Bill is the best horse, and don't let anyone tell you otherwise.
Having found the only patch of greenery left on the map, Bill is content to stand here until forced to move.

Mordhau horses overview - how to use them, where to find them

If you've played through Mordhau's tutorial you'll know the absolute basics of how to ride a horse in Mordhau, but if you're like I was when I first started playing you'll need a little more guidance than that in order to excel with them. The truth is that horses are extraordinarily powerful and difficult to deal with under certain circumstances, as long as you know what you're doing with them. In fact, I'd go so far as to call them slightly overpowered in Mordhau's current state. Let me explain.

You can find horses in the Frontline game mode (for info on all the different game modes in Mordhau, check out our Mordhau game modes guide). They can generally be found next to certain checkpoints for both teams, and they're highlighted on the full map view when you choose where to spawn. To ride one, simply walk up to it and hit the Interact button. You can adjust your horse's speed by tapping "W" and "S", and you don't need to keep "W" held down in order for it to keep riding.

At decent speeds, horses will deal quite significant damage to (and interrupt the attacks of) anyone you come into contact with. This includes friendlies, so be careful you trample over the right people. Certain weapons, mainly poleaxe- and greatsword-esque weapons (but there are exceptions) allow you to joust with them (also called couching). To start your joust, simply tap your kick button, and you will lower your weapon for a time into a position ripe for skewering those you pass by. If you hit an enemy with this then it's a guaranteed kill, unless they block (whereupon they are disarmed and swept off their feet). Yeah, it's that powerful.

You can also strike and thrust normally with a weapon while on horseback, and you can even be a horse archer if you so wish - but be warned that you can easily hit your own horse if you're not careful. Horses have different levels of health based on the armour they're wearing (which also affects their max riding speed, much like armour on players) - and it's important to note that your horse will never heal, so it's actually preferable for you yourself to be hit than your horse (provided you don't get unhorsed or die), because you can retreat and heal up, but your horse cannot.

In general, horses and horseback riders excel in open areas such as those in the Frontline variant of Camp, and they become more difficult to use to the same effect in more confined spaces such as certain areas of Taiga or Mountain Peak. Now let's take a closer look at how to become a near-unstoppable horseman worthy of the apocalypse - while also exploring some of the best strategies when it comes to dealing with said horsemen.

"Gary?... No... Gary... It should have been me... IT SHOULD HAVE BEEN ME!"
Our camera crew manage to capture a rare moment of profound despair, loss, and love on the battlefield.

Mordhau horseback combat tips - how to kill, joust, and remain seated

Below I've outlined some of the core tenets of a successful horseback riding career. Pay attention to these tips and you'll nearly always arrive at the top of the leaderboard whenever you find a horse to ride.

  • Use the Spear for maximum jousting potential. There are plenty of weapons that will make do when you're jousting on horseback (which is by far the most powerful thing you can do while on a horse), but none of them can match the 10-cost Spear, thanks to its absolutely superb range. When you're jousting, the damage values of the weapon don't matter that much because it's pretty much always an instant kill; and there are no attack times involved, so all you're left with is the reach of the weapon. What's more, the Spear is a fantastically powerful weapon for a footman as well as a rider, so you should feel no qualms about using it at all times during a Frontline match. Hence why in my Mordhau builds/loadouts guide I gave the Spear to the build which specialises in horseback combat.
  • Learn to control your momentum. Movement and velocity on horseback is different from movement on foot. All "W" and "S" do is change the speed of your horse; you don't need to keep "W" held down in order to ride forwards. They're toggles. And given that horses can get you into an awful lot of trouble if they get caught up on a fence or some other obstacle, it's important to learn to throttle "S" and "W" on the fly in order to adjust your horse's speed in order to make tighter corners and weave in and out of trouble well.
  • Identify and analyse potential threats early on. You're far from invincible on horseback. The only reason certain players feel invincible while riding a horse is because they've learnt to identify threats from afar and know when to commit to an attack and when to steer clear. Horses can cross distances very quickly, and most newer players will start their attacks far too late; but if you see an enemy winding up their swing while you're still two dozen metres away, then you might want to think twice before committing to your attack in case they're able to unhorse you or kill you altogether with that single attack.
  • Leave time to recover, and learn when to ditch your horse. As I've mentioned previously, your horse cannot heal after sustaining damage, which means, though they may be very powerful creatures, they are also strangely fragile. Fortunately, you can heal, and if you take damage there's absolutely nothing wrong with riding somewhere far out of danger and healing up before returning to the fray. And you should also pay constant attention to the health of your horse; if it's on a sliver, then any attack that connects will unhorse you and most likely lead to your death. Often it's a better idea to jump off your horse before this happens, and kill it so that a fresh, full-health horse will spawn as quickly as possible thereafter.
  • Lighter-armoured horses have the advantage in 1v1 jousts. Often in Frontline matches you'll find moments where a horseback rider from each team makes it their goal to kill the other. And horses are uniquely gifted at dealing with other horses, because the jousting mechanic allows you to deliver one swift killing blow to the rider - provided you get there first. The reach of your weapon plays a part, as - of course - does your accuracy. But the final criterion which you may not have known about is that more lightly-armoured horses will travel faster and therefore connect slightly quicker, giving them the advantage in jousts.
  • Consider the Friendly perk. This 1-cost perk is extremely useful for horseback riders, particularly those not yet comfortable on a horse, because it limits the amount of damage you accidentally deal to your own team. Hopefully you'll be able to refrain from jousting your teammates, but even running through a packed area can deliver some damage to your own kin. So, for the sake of your guilt and your teammates' collective blood pressure, I'd strongly urge you to pick up the Friendly perk for your character.

Something something long face...
Filming of this documentary is momentarily halted as one of the camp's warhorses takes a sudden interest in one of the cameras.

How to counter horses and horseback riders in Mordhau

Now let's look at the flipside of all this, and explore some of the very best strategies designed for putting an end to those riders that are constantly mowing you and your team down.

  • Use the Spear or Billhook against horseback riders. On foot, if you're the target of a decent enemy horseback rider then there are never too many options for you. All it boils down to is trying to connect your blow first - and, of course, the best tool for this is again the Spear thanks to its stupendous range. The Billhook, for half the price of the Spear, is also a great anti-cavalry weapon thanks to its good reach (though not as good as the Spear), and its ability to pull riders straight to the ground with a single successful hit. Of course, if you're not the target of the enemy rider and they just happen to be moving close by you, any powerful striking weapon will do: a Zweihander, Executioner's Sword, War Axe, etc.
  • Wall up popular riding pathways with the Toolbox's walls and spikes. This is the most powerful tool you have when it comes to defending your team against the incessant onslaughts of the enemy's mounted division. Why? Well, as I've alluded to previously, horses work best in wide open areas with lots of potential pathways for escape. They like to keep moving, horses do - and they don't much like having pathways blocked. Using the Toolbox to place walls and spikes will lead to the enemy riders having a much harder time of getting in and out of danger.
  • Start your attack super early. If you're confused about how horses always manage to close the distance between you super-quickly, well... They're horses. They're fast. The ball's in your court here: you need to learn to start your attack incredibly early, while the horse is still barely audible. What's more, even a horse that's stuck still can often put on a very sudden burst of acceleration and speed, so you need to learn to adjust for this, and begin your swing early in case they do so. Use drags and accels if you find that your timing is slightly off with a strike.
  • Aim to hit both horse and rider in the same attack. It's always the same question - do you aim for the horse, or its rider? The horse can't heal, but the rider can be unhorsed and killed in a single well-aimed blow, giving you the use of their horse. I tend to aim for both at once using my Spear or whatever weapon I happen to be using. A horse will generally survive the attack that would unhorse its rider - and if it doesn't, it was on low health and you wouldn't have wanted it for yourself anyway. Make sure you're using an implement that can pass through hit enemies to hit multiple targets at once, and aim to hit both with every attack.
  • Use ranged weapons if you're accurate with them. I've spent a great deal of time on horseback, and let me tell you, there's nothing worse than an accurate longbowman or crossbowman who has it in for you. You can't really blame them, because horses are often the greatest threats on the battlefield, so if they're aiming for you all the time it just means their priorities are straight as their arrows. But if a good horseback rider is causing your team grief, consider switching to a ranged loadout next team you spawn - as long as you're accurate, of course. Otherwise you're best suited to just staying a footman.

I think that's enough for the time being. In general, horses can be devastating tools on the battlefield, particularly in matches with fewer players; but there are ways to defend against their strategies, as you've hopefully learnt. Now get skewering!

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Ollie Toms avatar

Ollie Toms

Guides Editor

Ollie is sheriff of Guidestown at RPS, and since joining the team in 2018, he's written over 1,000 guides for the site. He loves playing dangerously competitive games and factory sims, injuring himself playing badminton, and burying his face in the warm fur of his two cats.