In Game of Thrones season 7 episode 6, When Jon and his group went to the other side of the wall to capture a Wight.

Why didn't they use horses and decided to walk instead? Is there any reason for this?

4 Answers 4


Horses need a great deal of care & feeding and this was intended to be a quick, quiet, snatch and grab mission.

Equally, the terrain is not really suitable for horses being primarily ice covered rock, mountains and the like.

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Out of Universe

Of course, the imagery of brave men walking across a bleak landscape emphasises the desperate nature of the mission and the vulnerability of the whole thing.

Also so that our heroes, once engaged with the Army of the Dead can't just ride away.

The arrival of Benjen Stark on his horse is something of a deus ex machina to allow Jon to survive and return and, of course, therefore breaks all of the in-universe ideas I mentioned above.

  • 3
    I haven't watched the episode but Benjen has been north of the wall for a while. Presumably his horse has learned to survive up there or he has got a new one from somewhere. He's also managed to survive all this time on his own so I'd assume he's a pretty good hunter by now to feed both himself and the horse. Aug 21, 2017 at 8:10
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    @TheLethalCoder Are you aware that Benjen is half a wight now (I mean since his last appearance in season 6)? I'd bet his horse is too. Aug 21, 2017 at 8:13
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    Night's Watch don't venture far North very often so it's unlikely they would have suitable mounts., Actually they do mount patrols as far as the frozen shore. Their garrons are specifically suited for this climate. The real reason would be what you said afterwards. They would have to burden themselves with fodder, Horses can't climb steep hills or hide, they leave behind a trail and make noises which could be the suicide squads undoing
    – Aegon
    Aug 21, 2017 at 8:15
  • @OlivierGrégoire Like I said I haven't watched it so no. Was just adding a reasoning that that counter argument may not have worked. Aug 21, 2017 at 8:29
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    @Aegon Indeed. Even in the show we get a whole speech from Alliser Thorne: You don't know cold. Neither of you do. The horses died first. Didn't have enough to feed them, to keep them warm. Eating the horses was easy... but later, when we started to fall... that wasn't easy. - they obviously do use horses during their missions. This was a mission. Everything except plot-logic (and burden of maintaining mounts during winter) is in place for them to have horses. Aug 21, 2017 at 9:01

What makes you think that horses were available? Eastwatch is manned by wildlings, not by the Night's Watch, and the wildlings don't seem to have or use horses very much. So the simple answer is that they had to walk because there weren't any horses at Eastwatch.

  • They have the resources of the North at their disposal, and at the very least, Eastwatch has horse traffic at non-zero frequency. They should have been able to get a few horses - it it makes sense to use them, which may not be the case.
    – einpoklum
    Aug 21, 2017 at 12:32
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    Is there any explicit indicator in the show that Night's Watch abandoned East Watch? IIRC, the garrison was augmented by Wildling reinforcements but that doesn't mean the Watch just left.
    – Aegon
    Aug 21, 2017 at 13:06

I haven't seen the movie, so I don't know the expected length of the mission. However, infantry will outpace cavalry in marches longer than some five days, as the cavalry mounts need to graze (or they need to carry their own fodder). Unfortunately, fodder is volume intensive and hard grains (which can be used only for part of the horses' diet) are mass intensive.

Also, on long marches the cavalrymen will walk dismounted quite a bit of the way.

As for horses in the cold, I remember only one polar expedition used horses (small poneys), the other expeditions used dogs to pull sleds. Dogs were much better adapted to cold and wind.


The horses are not accustomed to cold and would likely die - especially overnight without stables and food. (That is, if we ignore the ridiculous assumption that the whole trip was an hour or two long so that Gendry could just run back - while the arrowhead-shaped mountain was not visible from the get-go). You don't see the Inuit people using horses. Nor do the wildlings seem use them IIRC.

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