I reckon not many DMs or players would ever waste time into arguing about this, I would rule it as "do what's best for your character". But let's assume I'm playing with a very nitpicky DM who wants to play as RAW as possible.

The "combat riding" entry in the handle animal skill says

Combat Riding (DC 20): An animal trained to bear a rider into combat knows the tricks attack, come, defend, down, guard, and heel. Training an animal for combat riding takes six weeks. You may also “upgrade” an animal trained for riding to one trained for combat riding by spending three weeks and making a successful DC 20 Handle Animal check. The new general purpose and tricks completely replace the animal’s previous purpose and any tricks it once knew. Warhorses and riding dogs are already trained to bear riders into combat, and they don’t require any additional training for this purpose.

From this answer What happens when a mount is trained for combat riding using the handle animal skill I know what happens to a normal horse which is trained to bear a rider into combat and what being trained to bear riders into combat means (as per the riding skill).

But when I get a Warhorse must it already know the tricks given by combat riding (since Combat Riding says animals trained to bear a rider into combat know those tricks and then says warhorses are already trained to bear riders into combat) or can I choose?
That is, is bearing riders into combat tightly tied to knowing those tricks or are warhorses able to bear riders into combat without being forced into having exactly those tricks?

What puzzles me is that if whenever you got a warhorse they always had those tricks it's very likely this would've been written on the creature entry in the monster manual.

In the case the answer to my question is that all warhorses come with those tricks, can you change the tricks without making your warhorse less "warhorsey"? (in other words: If i change one of the tricks given by combat riding, does my warhorse forget how to bear a rider into combat?)

  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ There are a lot of questions in this question, and my answer tries to address them all. Let me know—so that I can update my answer and so that other potential writers are aware—if issues remain unaddressed. \$\endgroup\$ Commented May 31, 2019 at 15:10
  • \$\begingroup\$ As always, thanks for your answer and effort, unless I missed something from your answer I think the answer to "do warhorses come with all the tricks from combat ridareg?" Is missing, although it could be implied as a yes from the answer about the monster manual. \$\endgroup\$
    – valepu
    Commented Jun 1, 2019 at 5:50

1 Answer 1


Strictly, the general purpose combat riding (Player's Handbook 75)—as per the skill Handle Animal—includes the tricks attack, come, defend, down, guard, and heel, and an animal can't substitute other tricks for those tricks or unlearn those tricks. An animal can be trained even more so that it learns more tricks… if the animal's Intelligence score or an animal's or a handler's special abilities allows the animal to learn more tricks. Alternatively, the animal can be trained for a completely different purpose, its new purpose overwriting the old ("An animal can be trained for only one general purpose… (ibid.)).

  • Question: If a warhorse always knows all the tricks from the special purpose combat riding, the Monster Manual should say a warhorse knows those tricks, right?

    Answer: Probably, but the Monster Manual doesn't have to. A heavy war horse et al. all already say something like, "A heavy warhorse can fight while carrying a rider, but the rider cannot also attack unless he or she succeeds on a Ride check" (274), so the Monster Manual's relying on the reader to put that together with the Ride skill use fight with warhorse that says, "If you direct your war-trained mount to attack in battle, you can still make your own attack or attacks normally. This usage is a free action" (PH 80) and to then meld that information with the special purpose combat riding. And while that's a lot of building—and something that's, to be clear, never directly stated in the rules—, it's the only conclusion that I've ever been able to reach after trying several times to compile all the rules for mounted combat into a single document.

  • Q: Can the tricks from the general purpose combat riding be changed without losing the general purpose combat riding?

  • A: Not that I'm aware of. That is, I've found no normal way in any text for a handler to cause a creature to unlearn a trick, and I've found no way for a handler to teach a creature a second general purpose. It's possible the DM could be convinced that some high-power mind manipulating magic could achieve either goal—the 9th-level Sor/Wiz spell programmed amnesia [ench] (Spell Compendium 162-3) should probably be able to tinker with an animal's tricks, for example, although that's not a stated use of the spell—, but the game's lack of granularity on the topic of training animals means what's you've read is pretty much what we've got. (Although the various parts of the Rules of the Game Web column "All about Mounts" are extremely useful for filling in some of the gaps.)

The game's just not very good at accommodating normal but exceptionally well-trained horses like Comet, Silver, or Trigger. I've always suspected (but can't prove) that this was because the developers assumed that when a warrior who fights from creatureback outgrows conventional mounts he'll be astride a mount with an Intelligence score of 3 or more, rendering the animal training rules—for mounts, anyway—largely moot.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Robilar was fond of his green dragon mounts.... \$\endgroup\$
    – nijineko
    Commented Jun 1, 2019 at 4:36

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