I ran into an issue in my last session - my party headed into an area that is only accessible via tight tunnels. My horse is physically capable of passing through them, but it would have to "squeeze" by the rules.

My character got off the horse and pulled the reins to guide the mount in.

The GM ruled that it's "pushing" an animal, and that requires a handle animal check with a DC of 25. I couldn't do this, as nobody in the party had the handle animal skill.

I looked around for any 'official' rule on making a mount squeeze, but didn't find any, nor does "pushing" in the handle animal entry lists squeezing as a trick.

I was wondering if there's an actual rule on this we couldn't find? Because a DC 25 handle animal seems awfully high to get a horse to follow me into a tight space.

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    – Tridus
    Mar 16 '14 at 22:05
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    \$\begingroup\$ You ever tried getting a horse to go into a tight space? Horses really really hate tight spaces. If anything, DC 25 skill is an unrealistically easy check for this. Of course, it's also an unrealistically easy check for some other types of animals, so since they all use the same check, this can probably all be simply attributed to a high abstraction threshold for the game. \$\endgroup\$ Mar 18 '14 at 6:48

It Should Be A DC 10 Handle Animal

Here's the rules from Handle Animal:

This task involves commanding an animal to perform a task or trick that it knows. If the animal is wounded or has taken any nonlethal damage or ability score damage, the DC increases by 2. If your check succeeds, the animal performs the task or trick on its next action.

So, does "squeeze into a cave" count as its own trick, or can you use an existing trick to do that? Ultimately that's the DMs call, but my interpretation is that it should be a DC 10 Handle, using the Heel trick:

The animal follows you closely, even to places where it normally wouldn’t go.

Squeezing into a cave certainly is a place that a Horse normally wouldn't go, but:

  1. The Horse isn't being threatened by anything in the cave, as it's you doing the handling and it knows you.
  2. It's capable of moving to the location you want it to without taking damage. It sounds like it may not even need to make a check to squeeze, based on your description. (Checks aren't required if it has half the necessary space, so a one square wide tunnel in this case.)
  3. It also has taken no damage that you've mentioned

Based on those things, no special conditions apply here. Given that, I would rule this as a DC 10 using the Heel trick. (The Come trick has similar wording and would also work if you don't know Heel.)

If you don't have either of those tricks, then it gets a bit trickier. There's no rule on simply leading an animal where it doesn't want to go specifically, and in the absence of training there is a stronger case to require the DC 25 Push check.


In Pathfinder the rules for squeezing are as follows:

In some cases, you may have to squeeze into or through an area that isn't as wide as the space you take up. You can squeeze through or into a space that is at least half as wide as your normal space. Each move into or through a narrow space counts as if it were 2 squares, and while squeezed in a narrow space, you take a –4 penalty on attack rolls and a –4 penalty to AC.

When a Large creature (which normally takes up 4 squares) squeezes into a space that's 1 square wide, the creature's miniature figure occupies 2 squares, centered on the line between the 2 squares. For a bigger creature, center the creature likewise in the area it squeezes into.

A creature can squeeze past a creature while moving but it can't end its movement in an occupied square.

To squeeze through or into a space less than half your space's width, you must use the Escape Artist skill. You can't attack while using Escape Artist to squeeze through or into a narrow space, you take a –4 penalty to AC, and you lose any Dexterity bonus to AC. [Emphasis mine.]

By the Rules: Creatures Squeezing

If the DM determines that the space the horse needs to occupy is half or more its space but less than the space it usually occupies, the horse can squeeze like any other creature. Having the horse squeeze is just riding it or leading it; any creature can squeeze, and no particular skill or training is required to do so.

House Rules: Squeezing Horses
It's a house rule that the creature's owner must make Handle Animal checks to permit the horse to squeeze. Depending on the campaign's treatment of horses (e.g. horses are vicious creatures who pursue foes into burrows all the time, horses are cowards who won't enter areas in which they can't fully maneuver), the Handle Animal skill check DC could be 10 or could be 25; it's totally the DM's call.

The following is for completeness in case the DM rules the horse must fit into a tight space and not merely squeeze.

Creatures Moving into or through Tight Spaces
If the DM determines that the space the horse needs to occupy is less than half the space it usually occupies, then the horse must use Escape Artist checks to (even briefly) occupy that space. Having the horse occupy doesn't require any special Handle Animal or Ride checks but requires Escape Artist checks on the horse's part.

Assuming standard horse or variant thereof, the tunnels must be less than 5 ft. wide to force the horse to make Escape Artist checks. Then, seriously, the skill Escape Artist says, "Squeezing through a tight space takes at least 1 minute, maybe longer, depending on how long the space is," and lists the DC for the Escape Artist skill check to do so as an astounding 30.

As there's no way the typical Dexterity 14 horse, even with a generous DM allowing its owner to push the horse to perform the trick Break Out for a +4 circumstance bonus to Escape Artist checks, is ever going to make a DC 30 Escape Artist skill check by itself, the horse must rely on assistance from the judicious applications of the action aid another ("C'mon, horsey! You can do it! A little to the left! Squeeze!").

  • \$\begingroup\$ Clarification, then - it was a 4ft high tunnel and 5ft wide. \$\endgroup\$ Mar 16 '14 at 20:03
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    \$\begingroup\$ I think the question was about the squeezing option (a large creature only taking 2 squares), not the extra-squeezing for which Escape Artist is needed. Am I right, @TheCartographer ? \$\endgroup\$
    – Zachiel
    Mar 16 '14 at 20:15
  • \$\begingroup\$ Yes, I didn't refer to escape-artist squeezing. \$\endgroup\$ Mar 16 '14 at 20:18
  • \$\begingroup\$ @TheCartographer I think I now address that more clearly. \$\endgroup\$ Mar 16 '14 at 20:24
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    \$\begingroup\$ @TheCartographer The tunnel is 4 ft high? I hope your horse is a small pony then. Realistically (which, let's face it, is fairly irrelevant in Pathfinder RAW), the rule that a horse is 10 feet wide is rather silly. But while the rules don't directly address height, 4ft is really far too low for most horses. \$\endgroup\$
    – mcv
    Mar 17 '14 at 14:44

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