The new series of Games of Thrones premieres this week on April 24 (April 25 in the UK). From the nimble, fast mounts of the Dothraki hordes and the slim, splendid Dorne sand steeds to the spooky four-legged zombies stalking the wasteland beyond the Wall, horses play a huge role in the story.
While we wait to discover which hero triumphs, which villain has his comeuppance and — most pressing of all — whether a certain character really died at the end of Season 5, we have tried to give events a helping hand by finding the perfect horse for seven of Westeros’ great and good. Just be aware that there are spoilers for Seasons 1 to 5 and some (more or less believable) predictions for Season 6!
Despite having once told his agent he wanted ‘no more horses’, actor Kit Harington seems destined to ride one both on and off Game of Thrones.
Of course, the Season 5 rides may have been his last, if his character, Jon Snow, is as dead as the producers would like us to believe. However, we fervently hope that this is an elaborate ruse to keep the audience on tenterhooks, and that Jon Snow will soon make a dashing return to the screen.
What steed would he mount should he come back to life? A hardy breed used to the freezing cold of the North seems the only sensible choice on the Wall — we recommend a Highland pony.
Actress Emilia Clarke had a tough time on the first day of her first season as Daenerys Stormborn when she had to steer the horse she was riding across a field — and promptly fell off. The character she plays has a much greater affinity for all creatures equine — luckily, seen as she’s the ruler of a tribe where a man’s worth is judged by his horses — and while Daenerys has now made the transition to ‘riding’ dragons, we may yet see her in the saddle.
She has a preference for greys, which she calls silvers, perhaps because they match her hair. Sadly, the silver given her by her late husband, Khal Drogo, has long perished — the show is as merciless with horses as it is with humans — and although she seems to have found another one, we recommend she also gets an Andalusian for a flowing mane to rival her own.
Andalusian horse by Yeguada Algaida via Flickr, public domain
A rather grown-up Bran makes a welcome return in Season 6. His former mount, Dancer, had been trained specifically to respond to word and rein commands after Bran lost the use of his legs. Unfortunately, it looks like the chestnut filly died a few seasons back in the Sack of Winterfell, when Ramsay Snow, the Bastard of Bolton, took and burned the castle.
So how can Bran replace her? Although all the signs from Season 4 point to Bran flying a dragon, a steady, sweet-tempered, sure-footed Fell pony could be a more pleasant choice. It would be hardy enough to carry him on his quest to find his destiny north of the Wall — and it would give poor Hodor some respite.
Fell pony by Kay Schlumpf via Flickr, CC BY-ND-NC 2.0
Tyrion is another character that looks set to fly dragons.
He certainly seems smitten with them when he sees Daenerys fly away on Drogon in Season 5 — but until the time comes, the only decent Lannister in the series deserves a kind, loving horse to compensate for the dearth of affection in his life.
A Season 6 snippet shows a golden-armoured Jamie Lannister riding a stunning grey.
The one-handed knight has in the past been seen on an equally fabulous bay so he’s clearly not particular about coat colour so long as his steed looks suitably majestic (and is sturdy enough to carry a fully armoured man).
As an addition to his stables, we suggest a Warlander, which combines all the best traits of the Iberians and the Friesians and makes the perfect cavalry horse.
Warlander horse by Netg15 via Flickr, CC BY-ND 2.0
An assassin in training and now blind, Arya seems destined to a horseless life, which is rather unfair when you think that, despite a certain facility for killing without remorse, she’s fundamentally good at heart.
Hopefully, Season 6 will be the time when she has a chance to meet her perfect horse (and perhaps find some glimmer of a better life).
A sadist who loves killing, maiming and flaying people should never be entrusted with a horse, or any other animal for that matter. We hope that Blood, Ramsay’s hot-tempered stallion, throws him off and gallops to freedom, leaving the evil Bastard of Bolton to trudge in knee-deep snow, preferably at a time when White Walkers are about.
All Game of Thrones artwork (except Jamie Lannister and White Walker pictures) by Peter Pham via Flickr, CC BY 2.0; Jamie Lannister picture by Suzi Pratt via Flickr, CC BY SA 2.0 (cropped and recoloured); White Walker picture by Philip Wilson via Flickr, CC BY-ND 2.0 (cropped)