If there’s a guide I’ve written for The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt that can claim to be most peculiar, the one you’re about to read — concerning which is the best horse gear and how to get it — is certainly a contender. After all, Roach may be one of the most maligned aspects of the game. Through no fault of her own, she’s just a bit broken. But does this mean that acquiring the best gear for her is a worthless endeavor?
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Not at all. While the horseback combat is clunky and takes getting used to, doing it right can add a nice dose of variety to your play sessions. Upgrading your gear likewise improves your performance during horseback combat — add to that the potential for making horseback journeys faster and smoother, and you’ve got plenty of reason to trick out ol’ Roach.
Back in the Saddle — Critical Info
For those of us who need a refresher, let’s briefly go over what each piece of horse equipment actually does. Saddlebags, intuitively, give you more room to store your stuff. In the game, it will just add a numerical value to Geralt’s carry weight — there’s no actual need to interact with Roach to access the extra space. Saddles add stamina to Roach’s total, allowing you to clop along at full gallop for longer. Finally, blinders reduce Roach’s fear level, granting you a little more time before you get bucked. But what implications do these gear pieces have for gameplay — especially for combat?
Saddlebags will not affect combat much. The saddle itself can be important, depending on the tactics you’re employing. If you’re weaving in and out of groups of enemies at speed, the extra stamina will aid significantly. Blinders are a must-have (at least, for much of the game) if you want to be able to spend any combat time in the saddle. Undead foes such as ghouls will panic Roach very quickly, and even packs of wolves can cause stupendous amounts of fear in a short burst of time.
All of this brings us to actually making the best of these items — and the horseback mechanics in general — out in the world.
Before delving into horseback combat and tips for making the best use of it, it’s worth it to keep some things in mind. For one, it’s considerably rougher than normal combat (but miles better than the barely functional underwater/boat combat), and it takes some time to get used to the timing and rhythm of fights ahorse. And one need not feel tied to the saddle for an entire fight — you can treat it like a way to inflict casualties on a group (passes with sword strokes and broadhead bolts will whittle down foes quickly if timed and aligned well) and break them up so that you can dismount and finish them off with sword and sign.
It’s also important to recognize the kinds of engagements that might benefit from horseback tactics. This also ties into the stage of the game you’re playing and the equipment you’re using. Early on, it can be a good way to deal with single, slow-moving beasts such as bears. It’s easy for you to make a solid pass, swing, and swiftly escape the bear’s counterattack. If you want to try to tangle with the likes of wolves and wild dogs, however, you’ll have to get a little fancy.
As mentioned, it’s tricky charging down large groups of enemies such as wolf packs, as Roach’s fear levels will rise considerably faster. However, if you keep up quick and careful riding, you can put enough distance between yourself and the pack to get out a quick Axii or expend the stamina to keep riding and let the fear level drop on its own. This illustrates the importance of a good saddle as well, because the more stamina you have to work with, the more distance you can achieve and the more breathing room you’ll have. It’s important to note that handling Roach is pretty atrocious by modern standards (and it’s the bane of my existence), so it pays to get used to its quirks. Honestly, don’t be afraid to save before a big fight and try at it a few times, not to win, but to get used to movement and swordplay from the saddle.
Top Pick Overview: Quick and Dirty
Depending on where you are in Witcher 3, where to get the best horse gear can vary. With that in mind, here’s a quick method for acquiring high-level gear that’ll carry you through big sections of the game. Time to set sail for the Skellige Isles.
First, travel to the island of Hindarsfjall. Then make your way to Larvik, its largest village and the seat of Clan an Hindar. The notice board will give you access to the quest “The Heroes’ Pursuits: For the Goddess’ Glory!” Join the competition by speaking to Svana, which will subsequently give you three quests, each a different horse race in which you can win gear.
The Cavalry Saddle you win from “The Heroes’ Pursuits: Fyresdal” only nets Roach 60 stamina, but you’ll need to win it anyway to unlock the last race, and this race makes sense to start with if your saddle isn’t up to snuff. You’ll also need to win the races for the quests “The Heroes’ Pursuits: Fayrlund” and “The Heroes’ Pursuits: Kaer Trolde.” These will earn you the Zerrikanian Saddlebags and Zerrikanian Blinders, respectively. Finally, win the last race in “The Heroes’ Pursuits: For the Goddess’ Glory!,” and you’ll be awarded the Zerrikanian Saddle.
That’s it for the essentials, and you’re pretty much set until the endgame DLC and the readily available, optimal horse gear contained therein. That said, you can do “Races: Swift as the Western Winds” (a Hearts of Stone quest) to win the Ofieri Stock Saddle, which beats the Zerrikanian by five points. Being a horse race, the only level restrictions to worry about are the threats presented by the monsters and beasts roaming near the Upper Mill. And now, with the workhorses sorted, let’s take a look at the best of the best.
The Witcher 3 Best Horse Saddlebags
A boon to all players of Witcher 3, the best saddlebags in the game are the Beauclair Saddlebags, which add 110 to your carry weight. These are common drops throughout Toussaint, but you can also purchase them from the Tourney Grounds armorer. Saddlebags are some of the most obviously useful pieces of horse equipment, with encumbrance affecting even the players who make a point never to ride their horse. More loot to carry means more gold in your pocket, and who couldn’t use that?
However, for those who aren’t that far in the game, what’s an option you can pick up significantly sooner? The Zerrikanian Saddlebags (which you can earn from a quest as mentioned above) are a comparable choice, adding 100 to your carry weight, and they can be looted or purchased from either the merchant at Putrid Grove or from Éibhear Hattori, both in Novigrad. If you’ve got the DLC installed, the Undvik Saddlebags are a slightly better option (they weigh less), available for purchase from the armorer at Kaer Trolde.
The Witcher 3 Best Horse Saddles
The single best saddle in the game is the Caparison of Lament. The only trouble is, to acquire it, you need to make a specific endgame story decision for the Hearts of Stone DLC. If you’re unafraid of spoilers for the DLC, read on — otherwise, skip to the next paragraph. At the very end of the main storyline, during the confrontation between Gaunter O’Dimm and Olgierd von Everec, you must choose to allow O’Dimm to take Olgierd’s soul. After doing so, choose as your reward “To be as swift as the wind.” In addition to giving Roach a demonic appearance, it will impart 100 stamina.
For those unable or unwilling to acquire the Caparison of Lament, there are other (if very slightly inferior) options available in The Witcher 3 that rank among the best saddles. These are all found in the land of wine, chivalry, and romance, Toussaint. Functionally, all Toussaint saddles in the game will have the same stats (90 stamina), so the endgame encourages you to decide for yourself what constitutes Witcher 3’s best-looking horse gear. Examples include the Beauclair Saddle, the Saddle of the Five Chivalric Virtues, and the Toussaint Saddle. These are common loot drops, and they’re also available for purchase from the armorer at the Tourney Grounds.
The Witcher 3 Best Horse Blinders (and Something Special)
As one might expect, the best options for blinders come from arguably the best Witcher 3 DLC. Blood and Wine brings a litany of choices, such as the Caed Myrkvid Blinders or the Knight Errant’s Blinders. As with the saddles, all of them are common drops in Toussaint, but you can still buy them from the Tourney Grounds armorer. Earlier in the game, you can get the mechanically similar (but lighter) Undvik Blinders if you buy from the armorer at Kaer Trolde.
While blinders are all well and good, they aren’t the best option for dealing with Roach’s pesky fears. If you want to make horseback combat a regular feature of your play sessions, the single most important item is an alchemical brew — namely, the Nekker Warrior Decoction. It removes the fear mechanic entirely and boosts your mounted damage by 50%, allowing for unprecedented offensive capabilities on horseback. You can purchase the formula from the herbalist in Hierarch Square, Novigrad. For reference:
Nekker warrior decoction
1 × Dwarven spirit
1 × Nekker warrior mutagen
1 × Fool’s parsley leaves
1 × Ranogrin
On the Path: Ride into the Sunset
That’s it for the best horse gear in The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt! I hardly expected that I would spend any significant amount of time with Witcher 3’s horseback combat. But now, with a Nekker Warrior’s Decoction pumping through my veins, Aerondight aglow with righteous lightning as I bisect ghouls, and my trusty steed charging splendid across the countryside, it’s hard to deny the appeal.
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