The One Ring: The Darkening of Mirkwood
Most free folks living in Middle-earth, and indeed many creatures serving the Shadow, ride upon the back of swift horses, to travel swiftly across the land or to gain an edge over their adversaries in combat. Hobbits and Men, Elves and Dwarves all ride upon a mount of choice, from the overburdened ponies of wandering Dwarves and Hobbits, to the great horses of the Eorlingas and the magnificent steeds of the Elves.
In The One Ring, riding companions do not need to make a roll whenever they sit astride a horse or a pony, but only when they attempt some difficult horsemanship task, or when the Loremaster calls for a Riding test.
Mounting or dismounting, or setting a horse to trot, canter or gallop, are all activities that are considered ordinary for a rider. An action involving riding or handling a horse requires a die roll whenever a player is proposing a feat that effectively pushes a mount to do something dangerous, like jumping over a high obstacle or across a wide gap.
When this is the case, players should follow the rules for tasks, as presented in The One Ring Roleplaying Game starting from page 139. In most cases the ability that is likely to be considered most appropriate is the Athletics skill, as riding a mount certainly requires a great deal of physical prowess, and profits from daily exercise and training.
But there may be circumstances that allow a player to make a case for a different common skill; horses are intelligent and perceptive animals, and they develop a very tight relationship with their riders; moreover, in the novels, horses and ponies seem to relate to their owners in even deeper and subtler ways. Considering this point of view, a rider might try to calm his skittish horse using Persuade, for example, or push a horse to climb over a narrow ledge bordering a cliff using Inspire or even Song. It will be up to the other players to judge whether the proposed skill is to be considered appropriate to the task.
In general terms, when a task involving riding is successful then the horse does what it was expected to do. If the roll fails, the horse is daunted and refuses to obey. (For example, a horse might stop in its tracks in front of the obstacle it was supposed to jump over.)
Riding on a Journey
Horses can make for swift travel. Riding a horse doubles the distance that can be covered each day (40 miles, see The One Ring Roleplaying Game page 158). Moreover, riding companions enjoy the same advantage of travelling aboard boats or when equipped with ponies as far as Fatigue is concerned: they reduce by 1 the amount of Fatigue generated by each failed Fatigue test (the Fatigue increase becomes 2 points in winter and autumn, and 1 in spring and summer).
Not all paths and roads are suited for riding, and travelling across the wilderness on horseback does not always yield the benefits a traveller might expect from a swiftfooted mount. Loremasters wishing to better represent the hardiness of traversing difficult terrains should allow a riding companion to travel for 40 miles each day only when the chosen route is traced across very easy, easy or moderate terrain (see The One Ring Roleplaying Game, page 156).
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