Age of Empires Series Wiki

The Horse is an animal that appears as a campaign unit in Age of Empires II and Age of Empires III. In Age of Empires and Age of Mythology, it is a beta unit cut from the retail releases of both titles.

Age of Empires[]

In Age of Empires, the Horse does not appear in-game. However, it can be seen on the pre-game map for the The Holy Man scenario. If accessed via special game editors, the Horse can be placed in a scenario as a Gaia unit. It is a large black Horse with spots near its tail, and much bigger than other cavalry in the game. It produces the same sounds as other horses in the game. It has 20 HP and no other stats. If other units approach it, it will run away much like a Gazelle, but is startled more easily and will disappear while running (due to missing assets), reappearing every time it comes to a stop. If the mouse is hovered over it, the words "Right-click to hunt this animal" will appear, but this is impossible to do so; right-clicking will just send the player's Villagers to the spot where it is/was standing. Likewise it cannot be attacked, either. CPU Villagers will approach it to hunt it, but they will simply follow it around without ever turning into Hunters.

If "gaia" is typed in as a cheat, the Horse can be controlled just like any other animal in the game, although it cannot attack and still cannot be attacked itself. It does not disappear if the player is moving it around, but it will still disappear when other units come near. Although it cannot be attacked, it can be killed if the player presses "Delete". The only other way to kill it is by activating "Attack Ground" at the spot where it is standing, with a Catapult or other similar unit. The Horse has the dying animation of a Gazelle and the carcass of a Lion.

During development, it was planned that Horses (and also Goats) would be created as food sources in a building called "Pasture" that was similar to the Livestock Pen in Age of Empires III.

Age of Empires II[]

The Horse, like the Camel and the Bactrian Camel, is an untrainable unit that is found mostly in campaign scenarios. Two exceptions are the random maps Steppe, where each player begins with a horse instead of a Scout Cavalry and MegaRandom, where the same is possible.

Horses appear in the Units tab of the Scenario Editor. If assigned to Gaia, they will behave just like regular military units in that they switch allegiance to human players as soon as they are seen by one of their units and will never switch again, unlike Herdable animals. Similarly, enemy units in aggressive stance attack Horses.

Horses outside of campaigns fulfill the role of Scout Cavalry or Eagle Scouts, as they have the same speed, line of sight and armor class as a regular Scout Cavalry in addition to having 5 more hit points. Unlike these scouts, however, they are unable to attack other units or profit from upgrades.

Up until hotfix 39515, the Horse (and its functional counterparts) were of very limited use, as their ability of scouting was limited by a poor Line of Sight of only 2, fulfilling a mostly decorative role. In this hotfix, these units were changed to have the same speed, line of sight and armor class as regular Dark Age Scout Cavalry. Further, in update 39284, it was made possible to load them into Transport Ships.

Some scenarios have objectives revolving around capturing, keeping, or moving around a number of Horses:

  • In the third scenario of the Montezuma campaign, the player may opt to defeat Cortéz by capturing 20 Horses from him and bringing them to a walled area controlled by the player. The Horses are controlled by Cortéz and will not turn over to the player's control until the walls around them are breached and Aztec units enter their enclosures. As a result, it is possible for archers in aggressive stance to kill the Horses from outside, complicating the challenge. The player's ally Tabasco may also breach an enclosure and kill Horses but will usually surrender before this happens. After switching to the player's control, Cortéz and his ally Tlaxcala will attack the Horses.
  • In the fifth scenario of the same campaign, the player can capture Horses and bring them to a citadel, where they will turn into Elite Tarkans (Xolotl Warriors in the Age of Empires II: Definitive Edition). In this case, the Horses are initially controlled by Gaia despite being in walled areas controlled by Cortéz, and will switch over to the player even if the walls are not breached. This can potentially result in Cortéz killing the Horses while still walled in, if the player cannot break the walls in time.
  • In the first scenario of the Attila the Hun campaign, the Scythians, in gratitude for Attila's rescue of their prince from the Romans, will ally themselves with the Huns if the Huns bring them ten Horses. The player starts with three Horses but the scenario can be won without giving them up, as there are more than ten Gaia Horses scattered through the map.
  • In both the first and third scenario of the El Cid campaign, the player is required to move the titular character near one particular Horse (Babieca) so he will turn into his mounted version, El Cid Campeador. In this case, Babieca is controlled initially by the player's allies, King Sancho and King Alfonso respectively.
  • All other appearances of Horses are placeholder units for certain players to prevent them from being defeated automatically.

All Horses in The Conquerors and HD expansions are bay dun with dark manes. However in the Definitive Edition, Horses appear in five variants: Horse A, Horse B, Horse C, Horse D, and Horse E. They are listed as different units in the Editor, not different sprites of the same unit like in Age of Empires III, but are identical in everything except coat. A is the original Horse, B is heavier and with woolly ankles like a draft horse, C is white with dark mane, D is white with blond mane, and E is bicolor brown and white. All variants have the bay dun as their icon.

Just like the Bactrian Camel has the Wild Bactrian Camel and the Camel has the Wild Camel, the Horse has a non-capturable counterpart that behaves like Deer: the Wild Horse.

v  d  e
Scenario Editor units in Age of Empires II
AoE2-DLCicon-0.png The Age of Kings
Cobra Car · Heavy Swordsman · Junk · King · Heavy Crossbowman
AoE2-DLCicon-1.png The Conquerors
Furious the Monkey Boy · Horse
AoE2-DLCicon-2.png The Forgotten
Alfred the Alpaca · Amazon Archer · Amazon Warrior · Camel (Gaia) · Canoe · Centurion · Donkey · Dragon Ship · Eastern Swordsman · Flamethrower · Heavy Pikeman · Legionary · Norse Warrior · Penguin · Relic Cart · Royal Janissary
AoE2-DLCicon-3.png The African Kingdoms
AoE2-DLCicon-4.png Rise of the Rajas
AoE2-DLCicon-5.png The Last Khans
Bandit · Iroquois Warrior · Khan · Merchant · Ninja · Ox Cart · Ox Wagon · Mounted Samurai
AoE2Icon-LordsWest.png Lords of the West
Dawn of the Dukes icon.png Dawn of the Dukes
Crusader Knight
AoE2Icon-DynastiesIndia.png Dynasties of India
Sogdian Cataphract
v  d  e
Animals in Age of Empires II
HerdablesSheep · Turkey · Cow · Llama · Goat · Pig · Water Buffalo · Goose
HuntablesDeer · Ostrich · Zebra · Ibex
Aggressive huntablesWild Boar · Javelina · Iron Boar · Elephant · Rhinoceros
Wild animalsWolf · Dire Wolf · Rabid Wolf · Jaguar · Bear · Lion · Crocodile · Tiger · Komodo Dragon · Snow Leopard
Marine animalsShore Fish · Snapper · Tuna · Perch · Salmon · Marlin · Dorado · Dolphin · Box Turtles
OtherHorse · Wild Horse · Camel · Wild Camel · Bactrian Camel · Wild Bactrian Camel · Donkey · Stormy Dog
MilitaryFurious the Monkey Boy · Alfred the Alpaca · Penguin
HeroesOrnlu the Wolf · Hunting Wolf

Age of Mythology[]

Horses were originally intended to appear in Age of Mythology, but ended up being cut for unknown reasons. However, a close relative, the Zebra, appears.

Age of Empires III[]

Wild Mustangs.
—In-game description

In the Respect scenario of the Act II: Ice campaign, the player earns respect from the Lakota tribesmen if they bring them five horses. Like in previous Age of Empires games, these cannot be killed, nor can they attack. However, with decent speed, they are useful for scouting. The horses coats come in a range of colors from white, brown, or a mix of both.

Non-selectable horses also appear in certain native villages like the Cheyenne, Lakota, and Comanche in Skirmish maps.


Scientific Name: Equus caballus
Approx. Size: 5 ft. at the shoulder, 1,000 lb.
Diet: Grasses, feed

Horses are long-legged, single-toed mammals that rely on speed and awareness to flee predators. They are social animals, living in herds led by matriarchs. Horses use elaborate body language to communicate with one another, which humans can learn and use to better communicate with horses. Though domesticated, horses are prey animals and their cooperation with man must be learned. There are many characteristics that define various breeds: color, gait, temperament, and size are just a few. Almost all modern horse breeds trace their ancestry back to Arabian horses.

When the Europeans arrived in the New World, they brought horses. Many Native American nations saw and embraced the power and utility of horses. Equus is thought to have evolved in North America millions of years ago, spreading to other parts of the world. Around 10,000 years ago they mysteriously vanished from North America and were unknown on the continent until Europeans reintroduced them.