Box art - Red Dead Redemption 2

Red Dead Redemption 2 Horse Bonding – Perks, Items, and More

Although Red Dead Redemption 2 Horse Bonding may seem like a minor thing, it really isn’t. Increasing your bond with your horse can net you some really useful benefits in-game. Aside from increasing your horse’s stats, you’ll also benefit from some unique perks that will come in really handy as you progress through the game. Therefore, Red Dead Redemption 2 Horse Bonding is something you should pay attention to. Here’s everything you need to know about horse bonding in Red Dead Redemption 2.

Red Dead Redemption 2 Horse Bonding – What is Horse Bonding?

Horse bonding in Red Dead Redemption 2 is the process in which the player becomes closer to their horse. While newly tamed horses may be unfamiliar with you, horses you develop a bond with will gain boosted stats and perks.

There are four levels of horse bonding in Red Dead Redemption 2. In order to reach the next level of horse bonding, players must gain experience, the value of which is determined by the aggregate total of a horse’s primary stats: speed, acceleration, health, and stamina.

While horses you purchase start at Bond Level 1, horses you tame in the wild start at Bond Level 0, and you’ll need to perform some unique actions in order to get them to the first stage of trust. Not to worry, though—this guide will cover everything you need to know.

Red Dead Redemption 2 Horse Bonding – How to Increase Your Bond with your Horse in Red Dead Redemption 2

When you tame a wild horse in Red Dead Redemption 2, you’ll instantly gain 25 XP. Regardless of aggregate stats, all horses will reach Bond Level 1 upon reaching 50 XP, so all you need to do is gain another 25 XP to begin your journey to max bonding with your new horse.

A quick way to reach 50 XP immediately is to equip a saddle. If you saddle your new horse, it will instantly reach Bond Level 1; however, saddling caps at 50 XP, so you won’t gain any extra experience from this action.

The quickest ways of gaining experience aside from this are as follows:

  • Calming the horse when it’s agitated – 15 XP
  • Cleaning the horse with ointment when it’s dirty – 15 XP
  • Feeding nutritious food when core points are between 0 and 75 – 15 XP
  • Hitching or unloading the horse in a new area – 15 XP, but set to a cooldown tied to in-game hours. 1 XP when on cooldown.

You’ll also gain XP from just riding your horse. You gain less when the horse bears a heavy burden or is forced to gallop and more when you trot without a load or lead the horse by the rains. A tip on Reddit drew attention to the fact that you can also alternate between patting the horse and increasing speed by juggling L3 and X, which allows you to increase your horse bonding at a drastically faster rate.

This is probably the best method of increasing horse bonding, as it can be done passively without compromising how efficiently you manage your objectives in-game. Again, this rate depends on whether or not you’re carrying a burden or galloping, but you’ll still benefit from a net gain due to the 5 XP you’re awarded for patting the horse when it’s calm. Do this and you’ll reach Bond Level 4 in no time, even with a max stats horse that requires 2,450 XP to reach Bond Level 4.

Red Dead Redemption 2 Horse Bonding – Horse Bonding Perks

From Bond Level 1 onward, there are increases made to certain factors on a per-level basis. For instance, every level increases the horse’s health, stamina, revive time, whistle range, and whistle response time. Obviously, Bond Level 4 on a max stats horse will have the overall best stats in the game after the level increases have been applied.

However, each level also comes with a unique command perk. Level 1 has no command perk, as it is either the origin level for a purchased horse or the move from temporary to permanent horse for a wild one. Therefore, perk commands begin at Bond Level 2 and are as follows:

  • Bond Level 2 – Rearing
  • Bond Level 3 – Skid Turns and Skid Stops
  • Bond Level 4 – Drifting

All of the above commands improve to control the player has over their horse’s mobility, with Bond Level 4 giving the player a far better hand on the reins, per se. At Bond Level 4, your increased stamina and dexterity will allow you to ride hard across the Frontier with ultimate control. It’s therefore well worth taking the time to improve your horse bond, especially if you just do so by using the passive bonding tip mentioned above.

Red Dead Redemption 2 Horse Bonding – Horse Bonding Items

Taking care of your horse regularly will also increase the rate at which bonding occurs. If your horse’s cores are tended to before they get too low, you’ll always be increasing horse bonding at the maximum multiplier. Special items like Horse Meals and Horse Care Packages can be purchased in order to do this, which usually cost over 100 gold but allow you to lower the degree of maintenance you afford the horse for a full in-game day,

In terms of food, the best foods to feed your horse in order to increase its health core are beets, carrots, hay, and oatcakes. These give you the most bang for your buck, restoring quite a lot of the horse’s health with a single-use. Although certain items increase stamina exclusively, all of the aforementioned ones increase it at a higher rate, so they’re the best for tending to your horse’s stamina core, too.

You can also purchase remedies and medicine to fortify your horse’s health and stamina, although these have a temporary statistical benefit as opposed to a bonding one. Items don’t directly increase your horse bonding per se, but they do allow you to perform the actions mentioned above at their highest return values. Keep your horse well fed and you’ll have it at Bond Level 4 in no time.

Red Dead Redemption 2 Horse Bonding – How to Revive Your Horse

One of the best benefits of a Bond Level 4 horse is that you have an increased revival window if it happens to die. If your horse’s HP plummets to zero, it will enter a state in which it’s on the verge of life and death. Wild horses and Bond Level 1 horses will die almost immediately, meaning that unless you have a Horse Reviver in your satchel, they’re as good as gone.

However, if you happen to have a max stats Bond Level 4 horse, you’ll have an in-game hour to revive them, meaning that you can quickly purchase or craft a Horse Reviver in time to save them. Therefore, it’s worth your time to invest in your horse not only for the stat increases, but to save you having to fork out money on buying a new horse should your one happen to die.

So, all in all, Red Dead Redemption 2 horse bonding is an important part of the game. It allows you to reap unique benefits both in terms of your horse’s stats and your horse’s longevity, which will save you time and money in the long run. Next time you’re out and about, remember to press L3 while you’re hammering X to gallop across the open plains. You’ll be drifting around corners in no time.

You can also read our guide on how to tame elite horses with max stats in Red Dead Redemption 2.