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This is strictly in non-combat situations!

Do all characters automatically know how to ride a horse? Would it be fair to have players roll a (nature?) check to determine whether it's a skill they need to learn first?

Some of the exotic mounts in Adventurer's Vault seem like they really couldn't be ridden by just anyone (like the shark or the manticore). Shouldn't dangerous/difficult mounts require some sort of skill or training to ride?

Also, I assume all types of mounts are tame when sold in cities and such, but what if the players encounter a wild specimen and want to tame it for riding?

I only ask because I could find nothing on the topic in any of the books I have!

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If it's not during combat, then anyone can ride a trained mount. Presumably this is due to the heroic nature of 4e. (Ride was a skill back in 3/3.5e.)

I don't know of rules for taming, but I would use a skill challenge with Athletics and Nature being the primary skills and Endurance and Intimidate (and possibly Bluff and Insight for more intelligent mounts) as secondary skills.

Dungeon Master's Guide, page 46.

Mounted Combat: Anyone can simply ride along with a beast of burden without using the Mounted Combat feat. The Mounted Combat feat allows you to make the most of a mount's abilities. When you have the Mounted Combat feat and you ride a creature, you gain access to any special mount abilities it confers to its rider. (Not every creature has these abilities.) While you are riding a creature with Mounted Combat, the creature can make any Athletics, Acrobatics, Endurance, or Stealth checks using your base skill check bonus rather than its own if yours is better.

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It depends upon what you're asking of the mount. If you're asking for just general ride, an unskilled rider may be able to ride a mount with assistance. Think of a real life situation, if you've never ridden a horse can you ride one even if it's already trained?

For a horse, who would saddle it for you? Or if you prefer to try riding one bareback, you still need to mount the horse. You could do this unskilled Dex/athletics check; but then you still need to get the horse to go where you want it. An untrained rider may get the horse moving, but don't be surprised if the horse may not go where you want to because you're giving it mixed signals (e.g., you're giving signals with the reigns and with pressure from your legs). In general, even just riding a calm, docile mount can be a challenge for an unskilled rider without assistance.

Now, here's some situations I think could never be performed without some level of skill in riding:

  • stopping a panicked animal (e.g. runaway horse)
  • forcing an animal to jump an obstacle if untrained
  • fighting from an animal

Riding an exotic animal would probably be more difficult, unless the animal was able to communicate with the rider and didn't mind being ridden. For an intelligent animal with an unskilled rider; the rider would probably have to rely on strength/dexterity or some other skill checks (e.g., athletics) to hold on in difficult situations (e.g., flying through a storm; aerial combat)

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