Are there official rules or rulings for attempting to use stealth while mounted?

My research on the internet has found a number of opinions on the matter, but none of them seem to be backed by a reference to a book or a ruling. Is using stealth allowed while riding a mount?

For example, I do not see how a horse could be commanded to be stealthy. If you tried, then would that be an animal handling roll? Lets say that you could give the command, then how would a less stealthy mount like a horse even move stealthily?

I am playing in a 5e campaign. My ranger on horseback will move through a forest, outside of combat, and I want to be stealthy while scouting out possible enemy locations for the rest of the party to strike. I could do it without my horse, but if I get spotted, I really will want to get out of there fast.


2 Answers 2


There are two systems that govern stealth: the Hide action and Travel Pace


If you are scouting a specific enemy, you should use the Hide mechanics which involve using the Hide action (to provide a DC for any potential onlookers). A controlled mount, such as your horse, cannot use the Hide action since the only actions it can take are Dash, Disengage, and Dodge.

a controlled mount ... moves as you direct it, and it has only three action options: Dash, Disengage, and Dodge.

If you are not mounting the horse at the time, there is no reason you couldn't try to convince it to use the Hide action, see below for some idea how the Animal Handling would work. This could be made easier with spells such as beast bond or speak with animals.

Travel Pace

If you are simply scouting ahead of your party while travelling in an attempt to be prepared to warn your party of threats ahead of time, use the Travel Pace rules

$$ \text{Travel Pace and Effects} \\ \begin{array}{|c|c|} \hline \textbf{Pace} & \textbf{[...]} & \textbf{Effects} \\ \hline \text{Fast} & \text{[...]} & \text{−5 penalty to passive Wisdom (Perception) scores} \\ \hline \text{Normal} & \text{[...]} & \text{-} \\ \hline \text{Slow} & \text{[...]} & \text{Able to use stealth} \\ \hline \end{array} $$

Since creature's travelling at a Slow pace can use stealth, we look to the rules on Dexterity ability checks where it says:

Make a Dexterity (Stealth) check when you attempt to conceal yourself from enemies ... or sneak up on someone without being seen or heard.

As such, all creatures involved in the scouting (albeit at a Slow travel pace unless your mount is your Ranger's Companion) could use a Dexterity (Stealth) check to avoid notice. This means your party would also have to travel at this pace or they would catch up to you fairly quickly. To convince your horse to move stealthily would involve this section on Animal Handling:

When there is any question whether you can calm down a domesticated animal, keep a mount from getting spooked, or intuit an animal’s intentions, the GM might call for a Wisdom (Animal Handling) check. You also make a Wisdom (Animal Handling) check to control your mount when you attempt a risky maneuver.

Animal Handling

Nothing specifically allows for the instruction of your mount to move stealthily but if adequately trained, it would likely be achievable (I would probably consider exotic mounts proficient in stealth such as the tiger to already be somwhat "trained" in this way). For a creature untrained, it is likely almost impossible. Your GM could assign a relevant DC for Animal Handling with these rules, basing the difficulty on the level of training for stealth the mount has received:

$$ \text{Typical Difficulty Classes} \\ \begin{array}{|c|c|} \hline \textbf{Task Difficulty} & \textbf{DC} \\ \hline \text{Very Easy} & \text{5} \\ \hline \text{Easy} & \text{10} \\ \hline \text{Medium} & \text{15} \\ \hline \text {Hard} & \text{20} \\ \hline \text{Very Hard} & \text{25} \\ \hline \text{Nearly Impossible} & \text{30} \\ \hline \end{array} $$

I would rule that a mount with no training would result in a "Nearly Impossible" DC and move up the table for each level of training or comparable experience. I would use the Downtime rules for Training as a guide (see below, emphasis mine). Perhaps with each series of training requiring 3 successful Animal Handling checks before 3 failures (checks made periodically with 1/5 the total time and then are no longer needed after 3 successes, DC based on the level it has before training), you improve the mount's understanding of particular situations for stealthy movement. I would allow proficiency in stealth to give the mount a starting level of Medium. Once it is trained beyond Easy, I would stop requiring checks for this activity.


You can spend time between adventures learning a new language or training with a set of tools. Your GM might allow additional training options... The GM determines how long it takes, and whether one or more ability checks are required. The training ... costs 1 gp per day.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ See here for some idea as to why it should take some time to train a horse to perform this task readily. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Mar 31, 2018 at 13:04
  • \$\begingroup\$ Having ridden and trained many horses in my life, you can train a horse to DO things (like move backwards, lay on the floor, even rolls on its back) but you cannot teach the horse to understand the required mecanic to hide behind cover. the horse has no clue ans cannot calculate the effect of where to place himself so that the cover is effectively placed between himself and the target. Not sure training a horse to do that is even possible.. maybe it is...surely very hard or nearly impossible and verry loong ! \$\endgroup\$ Commented Sep 25, 2019 at 17:25

The rules are very clear on this: a controlled mount can only take the Dash, Disengage or Dodge actions. Nothing says you need to mount it. Whether it is mounted, dragged, or otherwise directed to do something, it is controlled, and thus cannot hide.

But if you want it to be hidden from view, it is the characters' task to make sure the horses stays heavily obscured or fully covered; otherwise, they are immediately spotted as they cannot do any Hide action.

  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ "An animal will not hide by itself unless it is a hunter. Prey flee; hunters hide." - This portion of your answer seems to make quite a significant claim, but is entirely unsupported. Can you support it by citing evidence and/or experience? \$\endgroup\$
    – V2Blast
    Commented Sep 23, 2019 at 6:31
  • \$\begingroup\$ it is not a rule mecanic and not stated in the rule the rule for the game mecanic is CLEARLY stated that a mount that is controlled (not necessarily mounted...just controlled, which leading a horse walking in front of it is) allows only the animal to dodge, disengage or dash. So it cannot take the hide action. looks like my example was creating confusion with what the rule says I removed it so you can focus on the real answer. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Sep 25, 2019 at 17:21
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ You should still cite the rule about animal controls, but you are also implying that an animal that can be a mount is always a controlled mount no matter what. I think you need to prove that statement. \$\endgroup\$
    – NotArch
    Commented Sep 25, 2019 at 17:26
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ There are animals that can be mounts, but also have actions on their statblocks other than those allowed for mounts. For example, the Riding Horse has an attack. \$\endgroup\$
    – Mark Wells
    Commented Sep 25, 2019 at 19:08
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Mark WElls. As per the rules it cannot use that action while controlled, In order to attack the horse must move out of its own free will (thus the basic notion of not being controlled) \$\endgroup\$ Commented Sep 27, 2019 at 23:53

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .