Equines - Horses & Donkeys

See our RP Guide for more extensive information regarding horses.

Introduction

On this page... (hide)

  1.   1.  Speech
  2.   2.  Uses
  3.   3.  Types
    1.   3.1  Donkey
    2.   3.2  Horse
    3.   3.3  Crossbreeds
  4.   4.  Horse Builds
  5.   5.  Limitations
  6.   6.  Horse Gaits
  7.   7.  Functions & Jobs
  8.   8.  Wild Horse Herds
  9.   9.  Luperci-bred Horses
  10. 10.  'Souls Resources
  11. 11.  Sources

Equines on found and used on ‘Souls include Livestock animals such as horses, donkeys, and their hybrids. Luperci from more advanced and sophisticated societies may be quite knowledgeable and well-versed in the usage, benefits, and care of equines, and are more likely to have these animals as companions. On the contrary, non-shifters and more “feral” Luperci are more likely to see equines as prey animals, be afraid of them or regard them with caution, and/or act aggressively towards them. Approaching an equine while in Lupus or Secui might make one be more readily perceived as a threat due to hundreds of years of natural evolution and instincts in avoiding dangerous predators such as canines.

Players and characters may use terminology such as “feral” and “wild” horses/donkeys interchangeably, but, it should be noted that true “feral” equines are not synonymous with true “wild” equines. For example, the “wild” horse herds from the American Midwest originated from formally domesticated horses brought over from Spain, and are not the same as the truly wild Prezwalski’s horse of Mongolia, which never stemmed or originated from a domesticated group.

Non-domesticated Equus species — such as the zebra, onager, or kiang asses — are prohibited due to their rarity and lack of domestication.


Credit: cod_gabriel @ Flickr

1.  Speech

According to our Speech Guide, this creature speaks Low Speech naturally. It is therefore not able to communicate with Luperci. This creature is listed as having the ability to learn some limited comprehension of high speech, but generally will never be able to speak it.


2.  Uses

  • Food: With the abundance of other, easier and more “natural” prey animals, horses are not often hunted down for their meat, and their ability to produce powerful kicks and vicious stomps often makes them a risk not worth taking. However, desperate times may call for desperate measures, and a valiant steed may need to be sacrificed.
    • Horse meat is lean, is often said to have a sweet and slightly gamey taste, and is something of a blend between beef (cow) and venison (deer). Younger horses yield meat that are more pinkish in color, whereas older ones are darker and redder. Horse killed during late-autumn will yield more fat than during the spring and summer.
  • By-Products:
    • Pelts and hides: As with any animal, hides and pelts can be made from equines.
      • Horse leather: Horse hide yields a smooth leather, and is comparable to bullhide. It is more rigid than cowhide, and takes longer to break-in. The hide’s coarser grain also lends to a brighter, shinier appearance. Dying horse hide can be difficult, and lead to ununiform colors compared to cowhide.
    • Horse Hair: Killing the animal is not necessary to obtain this by-product, as it can simply be plucked or cut from the animal. This can be used for things such as brushes and fishing line (if multiple strands are spun together).
    • Horse Glue: Made from boiling connective tissues (skin, tendons, bones, hooves, etc.).
      • Hoof Glue: Best used for wooden surfaces; does not leave any visible marks.
  • Companionship: More commonly, horses are valued by Luperci for their companionship and usefulness as beasts of burden. (See our RP Guide for more information on obtainment)
    • Travel: While Luperci may be able to travel great distances in Lupus or Secui, some prefer to remain in Optime for various reasons. Benefits to an equine include being able to carry things; from gear to personal possessions and items of trade to Luperci themselves. Having a horse or mule can also significantly reduce travel times over short distances for Optime individuals.
    • Labor: Equines can pull more weight than Luperci, and can see a variety of uses from moving downed trees or boulders, to pulling plows, to pulling carts/wagons/sleds, to name a few.
    • Livestock Guardian: Donkeys and Mules can make decent guardians over sheep, goats, and other small livestock. While they can challenge smaller predators such as foxes, coyotes, and bobcats, they may fair poorly against larger ones such as wolves, bears, or cougars.


3.  Types

3.1  Donkey

Donkey (Equus africanus asinus), aka burro, ass

Useful Information
  • Terminology: Jack (male), Jenny (female)
  • Description: Most donkeys found on ‘Souls would be standard or mammoth-sized, with smaller, miniature ones having likely fallen as easy prey after the fall of humankind. Donkeys are typically grey, brown, black, roan, or “broken” (having a combination of brown/white or black/white markings) in color, with many sporting primitive dorsal stripes along their spines. They have notably large ears and thicker heads, do not have forelocks, and typically have short, stiff manes and tails. Some can be quite shaggy too!
  • Behavior: They are often noted for their stubbornness and endurance, and, unlike a horse, are more likely to stand their ground than run away from a threat. They can comfortably live in herds, but can just as easily live alone. They are natural followers, often forming lines while grazing, and making them particularly good as a “pack pony.” They are intelligent, and their body language and trainability is comparable to horses.
    • Noises: The most iconic noise a donkey makes is a called a bray. While they cannot neigh or whinny, they can make other sounds consisting of snorts, squeaks, grunts, wheezes, and whuffles (low snuffling or blowing sound).
    • Predation: A stray or lost donkey may find themselves targeted by coyotes, wolves, or cougars.
  • Food: Aside from grasses, donkeys tend to feed on low-quality roughage, such as forbs, weeds, wild herbs, shrubs and brambles, and tree bark. This makes them easy to feed, but also prone to becoming overweight. They require less water intake than horses due to being, ancestrally, a desert-dwelling species. As far as treats go, donkeys can be given various fruits and vegetables, such as chopped up apples, carrots, turnips, berries, and squashes. Donkeys should not be given oats, barely, bread, onions, garlic, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, pitted fruits, and fruits given in large quantities.
  • Habitat: Wild donkeys are a desert-dwelling animal, though, domesticated ones used by Luperci can live comfortably in almost any habitat.
    • 'Souls Range: Feral populations found within ‘Souls are likely to be extremely minimal and rare, if there are to be any found at all. Wild donkeys are otherwise not native to ‘Souls’ territories.
Quick Facts
  • Lifespan: 25-30 years
  • Activity Pattern: Diurnal
  • Social Structure: Same-sex herds
  • Breeding Season: May-September
  • Birthing Season: May-September
  • Gestation: 12 months
Sizes
  • Standard:
    • Height: 12-14 hands (48-56 in)
    • Weight: 181-480 kg (400-500 lb)
  • Mammoth:
    • Height: 14-17 hands (56-68 in)
    • Weight: 408-544 kg (900-1,200 lb)
Appearance


3.2  Horse

Horse (Equus ferus caballus)

Useful Information
  • Terminology: Stallion (intact male), Gelding (castrated male), Mare (female)
  • Description: Horses can come in a great variety of sizes, builds, and colorations (Wikipedia, Helpful overview visual by Shewolff). In addition to natural variations, those kept by Luperci may see other cosmetic additions, from stylized gear to paints and tattoos to intricate mane and tail cuts, braids, decorations, and more. Branding is also common by Luperci hands.
  • Behavior: Horses are social, herd animals, though, may find companionship with other animals such as Luperci or other livestock. They are an animal whose first reaction is to a threat is, generally, to flee. However, given certain circumstances, they may choose to stand their ground and fight instead. They come in a vast range of different temperaments and tendencies, are intelligent, and can even be trainable by Luperci.
Wild herds often consist of smaller “bands” of horses which share the same territory. Bands are often led by a dominate mare (aka “lead mare” or “boss mare”), and usually have a single, dominate stallion (aka “lead stallion”) with less-dominant stallions remaining on the fringes of the group or forming bachelor bands. Lead stallions are protective of their bands, often patrolling around their harem and challenging threats from predators or other stallions. See our RP Guide for additional information on general temperaments by sex.
  • Noises: See RP Guide
  • Predation: Horses have few natural predators mostly because of their size and ability to defend themselves. Of the few predators that may attack a horse though, the most likely candidates would be wolves and cougars.
  • Food: Horses are continuous grazers, and benefit from eating a little over an extended period of time rather than a lot at once. Their diet consists largely of roughage, often feeding on a variety of grasses, weeds, brush, and grains. Additionally, they can be fed apples, carrots, pumpkins, eggs, salt, and sunflower seeds as treats. Fruits and vegetables should be chopped up to prevent choking. They should not be fed fruits in large quantities, alsike clover, acorns, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, potatoes, tomatoes, onions, or pitted fruits. See our RP Guide for more information.
  • Habitat: Horses can live in almost any habitat, but, often prefer plains, prairies, steppes, and other large, open spaces that have natural elements (such as trees and cliffs) to protect them from the elements.
    • 'Souls Range: Anywhere; noted wild horse herds located in the ‘Souls territories are listed further down on this page.
Quick Facts
  • Lifespan: 20-30 years
  • Activity Pattern: Diurnal
  • Social Structure: Same-sex herds
  • Breeding Season: April-September
  • Birthing Season: March-August
  • Gestation: 11 months
Sizes
  • Small:
    • Height: Less than 14 hands (56 in)
    • Weight: 91-381 kg (200-840 lb)
  • Average:
    • Height: 14-17 hands (56-68 in)
    • Weight: 381-599 kg (840–1,320 lb)
  • Large:
    • Height: More than 17 hands (68 in)
    • Weight: 599-998 kg (1,320-2,200 lb)
Appearance

3.3  Crossbreeds

Horses can only crossbreed with donkeys on 'Souls, and breeding results in a hybrid offspring that is often infertile and only very rarely result in fertile females. Sterile and unable to reproduce, male hybrids are often castrated. These hybrids are not naturally-occurring, and often only come to be because of Luperci involvement.

Hinny

Hinnies are the offspring of a male horse and a female donkey, and are less common than mules. They tend to have shorter ears, stronger legs, and thicker manes. They often range to be 6-15 hands (24-60 in) in height, with their size dependent more on that of their donkey dam. As for appearance, they often take on more of a donkey look.

They should be compared to donkeys in their sizing, limitations, and care.

Mule

Mules are the offspring of a female horse and a male donkey, and are a common hybrid. From their horse dam, the mule inherits “speed, conformation, and agility,” while, from its donkey sire, the mule inherits “intelligence, sure-footedness, toughness, endurance, disposition, and natural cautiousness.” [1] Mules generally range between 270-460 kg (820-1,000 lb), however, they can grow outside of this average dependent on their horse dam. The same can be said for their height. In short, a draft-type horse dam is likely to bear a mule offspring that carries those same draft-type characteristics. Mules can range widely in their coloration, much like horses do. They are often noted to have thicker heads, longer ears, and shorter manes thanks to their donkey sire. Mules can also bray.

They should be compared to horses for their sizing, limitations, and care.


4.  Horse Builds

As humans have long since been absent from our fictional world, not all horse breeds will have survived without careful, human intervention and selective breeding. Bloodlines become muddled, and, like dogs, while specific purebreds may no longer exist, many horses may still carry strong resemblances to their once purebred ancestors. See our RP Guide on what breeds would have been most likely to spread their genes in the ‘Soulsverse. Many horses on ‘Souls would be classified under what is commonly referred to as a Grade Horse, or, a horse “whose parentage is unknown, unidentifiable, or of significantly mixed breeding.”

  • Riding/Standard builds: Horses that are typically lighter, leaner, faster, and more agile. These horses tend to be smaller than drafts/labor-type horses, and are often intended more for simple travel.
  • Draft/Labor builds: Horses that are typically heavier, are more muscular, and are, overall, built to carry out heavier tasks such as pulling heavy loads and carts.


5.  Limitations

  • Carrying Weight: Carrying weight means the combined total of weight that the animal can comfortably carry on its back without injury. This includes: the weight of the animal’s tack (e.g. blanket, saddle, harness), any additional gear or loads (e.g. saddlebags), their rider’s weight, and their rider’s gear.
    • Horses: 15-20% of body weight (See our RP Guide for more information)
    • Donkeys & Mules: 20-25% of body weight
  • Pulling Weight: Not all horses are meant to pull. Heavier loads may require more than one equine to do the job.
    • Horses:
      • Short Distance: 6-10 times of body weight (dependent on breed)
      • Working/Long Distance:
        • Dead Weight: 10% of body weight
        • Loaded Cart/Wagon: 1.5 times of body weight (not to exceed 2 times of body weight)
    • Donkeys: A healthy donkey can pull up to 2 times of its own body weight, however, the tradeoff is speed.
    • Mules: Mules can typically pull more weight per body weight ratio than a horse, and have greater endurance as well.
  • Travel: While equines can travel at various gaits, it is recommended to not ride them further than 20 miles per day at a comfortable trot. They should not be pushed at a gallop for more than 1-2 miles, as doing otherwise risks exhausting and hurting the equine. (See our RP Guide for more information on horses)
    • Cart: Travel with loaded carts/wagons generally average around 10-20 miles per day, dependent on weather, terrain, and other factors, of course. Equines pulling a loaded cart should average around a pace of 3-4 mph (5-6 km/h), and should not pull for more than 8 hours (horse) or 10 hours (mule) per day.


6.  Horse Gaits

There are 5 different gaits that a horse can travel at. Each gait is noted by their “beat”, or, the number of hooves touching the ground during the movement.

  • Walk: four-beat gait; 7 km/h (4 mph)
  • Trot or Pace: two-beat gait; 13 km/h (8 mph); sometimes referred to as a “jog”
    • Trots are more common, and are characterized by having two diagonal feet touching the ground.
    • Paces are less common, and are characterized by having a lateral gait, or, having the front and back leg of the same side moving in tandem with one another.
  • Canter: three-beat gait; 16-27 km/h (10-17 mph)
  • Gallop: fastest gait, all four feet leave the ground; 40-48 km/h (25-30 mph)
    • Most horses can maintain a gallop for 1-2 miles before they need to rest


7.  Functions & Jobs

Equines can be used for a variety of different functions, all of which, can be beneficial to Luperci when the animal is properly trained.

Labor

Equines can be quite useful in helping haul or pull heavy loads that a Luperci would, otherwise, be unable to. Donkeys are best used for carrying hefty loads across their backs or in small carts. Horses can carry moderate loads, but are able to pull larger, heavier carts. Mules offer the benefits of the larger cart pulls of horses while also sporting the heavier loads and endurance of donkeys.

Draft-bred horses and mules make for the more ideal labor animal. With their more robust builds and musculature, they are innately more powerful than other equines. They can excel at pulling downed trees, heavy boulders, pulling plows, and pulling carts and wagons full of materials, goods, or Luperci.

Livestock Guardian

Donkeys and mules are better suited for livestock guarding than horses are. This is because, while not necessarily protective of the flock/herd, they are naturally more territorial and alert to their surroundings. As well, their loud, distinctive brays can be quite alarming for an intruder while also signaling to the flock/herd owner that something is amiss. Donkeys and mules may challenge potential threats or intruders by charging, stomping, kicking, and/or biting.

Smaller livestock like sheep and goats tend to move towards guardians when approached by a predator and/or may put the guardian between them and the perceived danger.

Travel

Perhaps the greatest benefit in taming or obtaining an equine is their use for travel. Luperci in Optime form can use horses, mules, and mammoth donkeys to carry them over great distances. And, at greater speeds, these equines can also significantly reduce the time needed to travel short distances.

Riding is not their only travel use, however. Equines can be used as pack animals, increasing the amount of gear, personal effects, trade items, and more that a Luperci can carry and take with them. While they are limited by how much they can carry, it is often more than what a Luperci can carry, and, reduces the work and strain placed on the Luperci themselves.

War Horses

War horses” are not bound to a particular breed, and are grouped more by their build and their intended function on the battlefield. While most Luperci would rather (and more commonly) carry out their conflicts with their own teeth, claws, and weaponry, some may see the use of fighters on horseback, or, a calvary. A “good” war horse is often born and bred for their role from foalhood, and may typically be stallions or geldings because of their natural aggression and/or power compared to mares. These horses may have as much or as little gear or armor as their Luperci rider sees fit, however, weight limitations should still be taken into consideration.

Armored horses would likely be an uncommon idea amongst Luperci society, as the added weight of the armor would take up a hefty sum of the total weight that the horse could comfortably carry, and would slow the horse down. Given the choice between the rider being properly protected and weaponized or their fleet-footed horse, most Luperci would likely prioritize themselves. If any armor is to be fitted at all, hide or leather armor would be ideal. While single, minimal metal plates may be achievable, full barding such as this would be heavy and cumbersome, and would not be feasible for our Luperci either because of limited materials, knowledge/experience or means to craft it, and/or being largely overkill for ‘Soulsverse. Chainmail would be absurdly heavy and impossible (and extreme overkill).

  • Light-weight war horses might range between 12-15 hands (48-60 in) and 360-450 kg (800-1,000 lb), and would be ideal for speed, endurance, and agility. Fitted with minimal or lightweight gear, their riders might carry bows, spears, or javelins. They would make for ideal horses for raiding and light calvary.
  • Medium-weight war horses might range between 14-16 hands (56-64 in) and 450-599 kg (1,000-1,320 lb), and would likely be the more ideal war horse for the average Luperci. While not as fast as the lighter weight bracket, these horses are generally powerful and agile in combat. These horses may be selected because of additional abilities, such as being able to stop quickly, spin or turn sharply, or have exceptional sprinting speed. Their gear can vary widely, and their riders may carry a variety of weaponry; from bows, spears, axes, swords, and more.
  • Heavy-weight war horses are often large, and are often noted by their heft, which might range between 680-910 kg (1,500-2,000 lb). These types of horses might see better use pulling supply carts/wagons, and are often desired to be calm in the midst of conflict as a result. Because of their size, these horses are often slower and may need to take wide turns. The payoff may be added or heavier armor, intimidation, and the ability to carry larger Luperci into battle. Riders on excessively tall horses may find fighting against ground-Luperci difficult. If given a more combative role and ridden into battle, these heavy weights may be best used for simply charging, impaling, and/or running over foot-soldiers.


8.  Wild Horse Herds

There are a few wild horse herds that can be found within the ‘Souls territories. Some herds may have been feral from the beginning, while some may have had roots from escaped horses of the human times. Others still may be horses that were brought to the region by Luperci, or, were otherwise released or escaped their previous ownership.


9.  Luperci-bred Horses

Some more sophisticated Luperci have found a calling and fascination in horses, and in an effort to create their own “perfect” or “brand” horse, have selectively bred horses for various functions/jobs, traits, temperaments, or colorations. It takes many generations of horses to even begin to create a “breed standard,” and, since horses mature more slowly and often outlive their Luperci counterparts, this makes creating specialized horses difficult, as it requires multiple generations of knowledgeable and dedicated individuals to make such a thing a reality.

  • Svantevit Horse (Board-owned) – a long-established standard created by the Svantevit pack in Portland. They come in two types; palfrey and destrier. All horses are branded.
  • Pauson Horse (Salsola) – beginning its roots in 2012, this was the first standard created by an on-board pack. These horses are intended to be a hardy, northern breed. They are noted for their pale mane and tails, dappled coats, enhanced agility, and sturdy footing.
  • Polvo de Oro (Del Cenere Gang) - began in 2021, and are less of a standard and more of a "branding," as any horse born within the pack is considered part of this "breed." These horses are typically more in line with a "trail" horse, and have a sturdy but graceful build, with a preference for quick, sure-footed individuals with responsive handling. Horses are generally branded on their left shoulder.


10.  'Souls Resources


11.  Sources


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