Learning about Horses with an Online Game

 If you are looking to waste a few minutes or even a few hours the internet provides a great variety of gaming options.  As someone who often prefers to sample games rather than delve deeply I have tried many of them.  Mostly recently my interest has been peeked by a new horse game Howrse.

I know this subject is not on topic.  Still, I am going to claim that it is none the less related however sketchily.  My older daughter is currently obsessed with horses.  Howrse proved a good transition from My Little Ponies to learning about real horses.  With that in mind let’s talk about the game.

Sample Graphics

Game Play

 

Upon registration, which is free, you receive a horse.  (You choose the breed, gender and coat.)  The tutorial will walk you through the basic care of your horse as well as introduce you to training and competitions.  As you complete each level of the tutorial you are rewarded.  Upon completion of the tutorial you receive an additional horse of the same breed but opposite gender.

The basics of game play are easy to grasp.  Press the appropriate button to feed, water, or train your horse.  Try to keep your energy above 20% and your health and morale high.  Despite the seeming simplicity the game lends itself to some complex game play when you begin breeding horses.

Each horse has a genetic potential, which provides a cap to the skills that horse is able to master.  Through selective breeding you can increase the genetic potential of your horses.  Your options in this area are realistically varied.  You can, of course, breed your initial two horses (though you should know that starting horses have the lowest genetic potential).  You could choose a stud from the public covering offered by other players.  You could request a private covering from a player with a worthy stallion.  Or, you could always go to the auctions and purchase a horse or horses with which to breed your foals.

When purchasing or breeding new horses, keep an eye on your funds.  Starting players are only eligible for the lowest paying jobs.  Moreover, starting horses are not as competitive in the competitions.  Each new horse you acquire (aside from the veterinarian bill for birthing them) will require stabling and feeding as well as outfitting if you wish them to compete.

Game Potential

This brings to mind one aspect of Howrse, which I truly applaud. Your horses will only age if you work with that horse. So if you suddenly find yourself with a stable full of horses and no funds just choose one horse to work with until your funds are replenished. Or, should you have to leave the game for several days or months your horses will not starve or die of old age in your absence.

However, the same is not true of your equestrian center. After you have played the game for 20 days (20 days of logging into the game not 20 days from registration) and passed the third riding level you are eligible to operate an equestrian center. You receive equestrian center funding which is kept separate from your breeder funds and can upon purchase of a box open your center. The nice thing about owning your own center is that you can board your horses there for free. However, as I mentioned the center does not stop operating just because you are not online. This does not mean you are completely without options should you need to stop playing for an extended period of time. You could stockpile supplies, harvest all crops and make sure your boxes are all in excellent repair before taking off. Or you could raise your prices in an effort to keep people from registering with your center while you are gone. Or if all else fails you can always scrap the entire center and begin anew. (If only life had a similar reset button.)

One thing to note is that the graphics are fairly simple. There are no flashy videos or high resolution graphics. I actually find the lack of flash dovetails nicely with the simplicity of game play. However, I do get tired of looking at the same picture with different coloring for all my horses. (I have all the same breed.) The game does allow you to pay for the ability to create your own graphic or use another user’s graphic. However, many players seem to choose graphics with no thought to the horse’s genetics. I’ve seen cherry colored horses with genetics that called for a light grey coat and I once even saw a purple horse.

That being said the game provides a great deal of educational potential. You learn what skills and costs are involved in caring for a horse, what criteria are used when judging competitions, the different breeds of horses along with their strengths and weaknesses. It also reinforces less obvious skills like math as you monitor your horses energy and your game funds. Planning as you decide which tasks are important for your horse to preform before you run out of daylight. Advertising in your effort to promote your equestrian center. Moreover, I’ve truly enjoyed the process of learning with my daughter about horses.

Come join us on Howrse.  I'm sure you'll enjoy it too.

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Simone Smith profile image

Simone Smith 5 years ago from San Francisco

What fun! It's amazing how much we can learn from games these days.

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