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Ok so imagine I cast animate dead and create a zombie horse, this creature would obey my commands and thus I can direct it into battle, make it attack etc.

I understand I would still have to make ride checks to stay in the saddle or do any other action that is not actually controlling the mount (like mounting quickly using it as cover etc) but there would be no need to guide the creature with my knees, spur the mount, or control it in battle as it would follow my spoken commands.

Obviously there is some concern in that I have to tell it where to go, so presumably my enemies would hear where I am heading, but mechanically would this work?

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An undead mount's rider suffers a penalty on Ride skill checks

Libris Mortis on Undead Mounts says

It’s simply harder to ride a nonintelligent undead mount than it is to ride a traditional steed. As a result, the rider of an undead mount takes a −2 penalty on all Ride checks. In addition, the bonus on Ride checks from the Animal Affinity feat doesn’t apply, nor does the bonus created by synergy with the Handle Animal skill. An undead mount can’t be spurred to greater speed. (33)

Thus the game make it harder to ride a creature that the rider must direct constantly than to ride a creature that can take actions independent of the rider. Further, the game makes it so the rider of an undead mount must still make the same Ride skill checks as if the mount were living.

(From a wholly nonmechanical perspective, I imagine that for most trying to ride an undead mount is like a contemporary rider attempting to apply her equestrian skills to a motorcycle.)

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  • \$\begingroup\$ +1 But I would annotate this specifically addresses PCs who animate their own mounts. After reading your answer I had to double check my book bc that was my immediate thought based on OPs question. \$\endgroup\$
    – Ben-Jamin
    Sep 19, 2017 at 21:10
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Ben-Jamin RE: "But I would annotate this specifically addresses PCs who animate their own mounts." I'm not sure I understand. Contextually, the section starts with acquisition (omitted), continues with use (included) then upkeep (omitted), and concludes with game options (omitted). I'm not sure how the rider gets an undead mount matters once the rider's on it, presumably controlling it. (And if the rider's not controlling it, then it's a whole 'nother thing.) \$\endgroup\$ Sep 19, 2017 at 21:44
  • \$\begingroup\$ I'm tired so maybe not thinking clearly, I was thinking if you get it from someone else vs animating yourself but then it wouldn't listen to your commands anyway so disregard, like i said I'm tired \$\endgroup\$
    – Ben-Jamin
    Sep 19, 2017 at 22:12
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Ben-Jamin No problem. Yeah, attempting to climb aboard a hostile Ima-gonna-use-this-here-undead-thang-as-a-mount is probably a bad idea… and a different question. Get some sleep, man. :-) \$\endgroup\$ Sep 19, 2017 at 22:20

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