Racing, race track creation, breeding of our favorite beasts!
Engineered thousands of generations ago, these horse-based creatures bear a striking resemblance to the Earthly mythical Pegasus. Horses with wings are a standard of Zekiran life, but they come also without them, and with other enhancements which Animal Masters and Breeders can add.
The average Steed (the term for both winged and non-winged horses) is
about 5 feet at the shoulder, or 15 (Earthly) Hands High. They normally
have strong necks and overly muscled shoulders, the only odd feature on
the non-winged versions is that they still carry what is known as the
"Wing Girdle", a band of muscle around the base of the neck
which allows the wings to function on other Steeds.
Flying Steeds specifically often run from 14 to 17 Hands, and are more
slender than their non-winged counterparts. They also tend to weigh more,
not just because of the wings, but because the muscles they must use to
make flying possible are overly developed.
Steeds generally have stronger forelegs than rear, but this is variable
on ground-Steeds. They are all intelligent to a degree, and have distinct
personalities. They have excellent vision, and their eyes (at least on
the flying Steed) are often set closer to forward than to the sides, providing
them an advantage when landing and moving through the air. Some flying
Steeds have been bred with third eyelids, and nose-flaps to keep the wind
from their noses. All Steeds have unusually proportioned ears, much longer
than Earthly horses, more like mules',
There are different sets of riding tack which are involved in ground
and flying Steeds, both mentioned later, but the flying tack is clearly
not Earthly in nature. Most ground Steed tack is the same as Earth's,
varied for the Steed or conditions.
Different Breeding houses produce Steeds which have particular features:
appearance, stability in certain terrain, attitude, and strength. These
are detailed later. Breeding can be done by anyone, with or without an
Animal Master, but more of the best Steeds are bred by them.
Steeds mature slowly, and have long lifespans by Earthly standards: they are considered "young" until they are ten years old. The average lifespan of a flying Steed is 40 years, that of a grounded Steed is closer to 55. Activity and usage always affect the final lifespan.
Steeds are herbivores only, subsisting on the local grasslands when the
feed is not available. They can digest almost all kinds of native vegetation,
but also have the supplimental Steed Feed farm's hay and grains. They
have a small stomach, and huge colon, which allows their digestion even
during flights or work. In most respects save that of having wings, the
Steeds of Zekira resemble Earthly horses on the inside.
The easiest way to compare Steeds and Earthly horses is to consider an Arab, Thoroughbred, Trotter or Saddlebred horses equitable to Fliers; Draft, Quarterhorse, or Cob horses resemble the Grounded Steeds -- in both appearance physically and mentally.
There are three basic kinds of wings on Steeds, all of them bred for
Skin flap wings are batlike in appearance, though no 'fingers' are visible
at the ends of the joints. They are normally covered in the same fur that
the body is, though often are entirely bare. Skin wings usually are held
over the body, back or upwards from the sides without tiring. These wings
usually are smaller from tip to tip, but broad and so can support a lot
of weight, only not for a terribly long time, as there is little ability
to soar with these. These Steeds are good at strength feats, aerial pulling
and dragging, and supporting more weight. There is the drawback that few
of these Steeds are used to race on the regular circuit, they are plain
and often considered too ugly to race.
Feathered wings bear the resemblance to bird's wings, are of average
size but can be bred to be huge or tiny. These are held forward from the
shoulders, or at angles to the sides of the body, they can nestle snugly
down to the body because of the flexibility of the joints. While these
wings are not as physically durable as the skin wings, they have the advantage
of being truly feathered, and as such provide such a tremendous amount
of lift that they can be used to soar. The bones are not hollow, so they
are proportionately larger than birds' wings. Most aerial acrobatics can
be achieved by feathered wings, with the consideration of the wingspan
itself. These are primary racers.
Show wings are nearly useless as flight-wings, and often are considered
vestigial, but they are pretty to look at or to the touch. Frail feathers
ranging from 2' to 20' feet long often decorate these wings, curled, frayed,
or transparent ones also. The butterfly-wing is becoming more popular
with the show circuit, but some Animal Masters claim that these strange
fairy-horses are just too unnatural. Very few of these Steeds will be
able to race, let alone win, but they have their own show venue to compete.
Variations of the wings come in all kinds, but usually they are considered
for show only, until someone comes up with one which beats all comers
and is of a new design. (Skin with broad flight feathers, miniature wings
for gliding, whatnot.)
Steeds without wings are used to pull vehicles, carts and transport goods,
for personal use as riding animals or companions to fliers, general work
animals, or show creatures. They are generally broader and squatter than
their flying counterparts, but are also more stable and easier to train.
There are no "wild" Steeds on Zekira.
The colors of a typical Steed run with contrasts in the mane, tail and
feathers (if any). Patterns usually continue on the longer fur of mane
and tail, but often are different on wings.
Steed Coloration And Patterning Chart
Most Patterns will involve fully contrasting colors (say, Light Green with Bay, or Gold and Violet), but Fades are popular -- gradually changing from Bright Blue to Brown-Red may go through Violet and Copper first, you never know what'll look best until you try it.
Terms for creating a Steed
First, decide if the Steed is to be flying or grounded. Different Breeding
houses may or may not produce both kinds, so it is important to know where
the animal is coming from. Gender is relatively unimportant, as these
Steeds have been bred to be nearly equal. They are the same in size and
attitude, occasionally males of grounded breeds may be larger or more
ill-tempered, but this is rare. Age is described below.
Animals of the Poor and Average categories cannot hope to be Bred by
anyone serious about the work. That is not to say that they don't get
Bred at all, but they are never raced (embarassing!) and are rarely shown
(stupid!). Poor usually reflects a bad Breeding House, or conditions there,
or even the unlikely case of abuse, and cannot be raised to Average except
if the Steed is found at the earliest Age.
The Breeding House Quality modifier may be assigned to only a few scores
unless stated otherwise, but always apply the general modifier first,
and then the singular percentage.
Quality and cost go hand in hand. The price modifiers of the Steeds is
the same as their Stats mod, so a Steed at 100C and a Quality of Excellent
now becomes a 120C Steed. Note that this is for PERCIEVED Quality, the
seller may or may not actually have an Excellent Steed!
Note that every category except Terrain must have a score of at least
Breeding information can be coupled with the second Steed sheet, if this
Steed is available for it, or has been Bred by someone famous. The second
sheet also has room for information about the conditions of the boarding
areas, Loan information, and Riders, which may change over the course
of play. Having one site in poor condition may make your Steed react badly
to the next site, this comes out in play. More information on sites and
facilities in the Courses section.
Racing statistics are in the Racing and Courses section, as well as descriptions
of many of the current Courses and Trophies available. Betting and playing
odds is of course, the ideal down-time activity for all Zekirans, so make
your Steed the best they can -- you might have a winner on your hands!
For these Scores, ((Boldface indicates a general Steed rating Bold Italic
indicates Flying Steed ONLY))book
Race Course Creation
Sprint, Distance and Endurance races all have one thing in common: there
is nothing in the way except time. Sprint races are usually either straight
on turf or oval on dirt or turf for at most one mile of racing -- these
most resemble Earthly racetracks. Distance races can be on any kind of
surface (even paved or water) but must not have any drops, rises or hurdles
to jump; the distance covered may be anywhere from ten to one hundred
miles, the first finisher wins. Endurance races may be of two types: distances
of over one hundred miles, winners simply finish first and the other more
uncommon version of setting an area out and racing until a certain time
expires, with the distance covered being the winning amount. This second
type of endurance race is dangerous to both Steed and Racer, if either
decide they can go farther they may endanger their own health.
Obstacle courses are usually done in a small area but with a pattern
to follow, this is quite a lot like Earthly Show Rings. Typically, the
course is less than half a mile long in actual distance, but there are
a set number of jumps, dips, hazards and distractions along the way which
make it difficult for the Steed and Rider to maneuver. Those that finish
during a certain time are judged as to their performance (by not knocking
down any jumps, shying away from hazards, ignoring distractions, etc).
Complex Courses include terrain that is difficult to follow or trails
that must be ridden to a goal, often the Rider may dismount to do a task
while the course is being followed -- a kind of treasure hunt or steeple
chase. Generally these courses are wide and follow about a ten mile trail,
outside, with only natural or nearly-natural barriers. Winners are those
who finish first or with the best performance along the course.
Other courses and events include the Pull -- a strong Steed can pull a tremendous amount of weight, how long or how much, or over what kind of terrain; Swimming is extremely rare but gaining popularity with manmade courses (it's too unsafe to do so out in open water); Skills (standing jumps, response to command, etc) which may also qualify as Show Ring events.
Aerial Courses: the main difference is size! A sprint race in
the air requires a much wider area (the wingspan of Steeds can't overlap,
that becomes very dangerous), and a considerably longer distance. The
same general rules apply to Aerial Speed, Distance and Endurance races,
that there is a set terrain with nothing in the way and the top speed
Aerial Speed Trials are of two miles length, when they are held no farther
than 200 feet in altitude. Above that they are considered High Speed,
to 2000 feet up; higher than that they are called High Altitude courses
and are much more dangerous than any others.
Aerial Distance Races are usually held in the 100 to 1200 feet altitude
range, and are of five to fifty miles in length. Often they are a circular
pattern, above a ground-based reference course or object, or over a path
designated by a road.
Aerial Endurance races are normally on the same course as a distance
race, but with added area to cover or another couple laps. Usually they
are of seventy to two hundred miles, and are of low complexity. Flying
endurance can be modified by known updrafts and currents, storms and weather.
Aerial Obstacle courses are of ten to one hundred miles, of varying heights.
Usually there are objects such as trees, buildings or other large manmade
or natural structures in the way to soar around, as checkpoints. Sometimes
there are added unnatural devices in the way: hoops, difficult to manage
order of hazards, low-flying demands, narrow areas to maneuver, even unnaturally
produced phenomenon like fire lines, water hazards, and fog. Those who
complete the course are measured in the time it took as well as their
Aerial Stunt courses are distinct from Obstacle courses by being entirely
manmade, and by demanding the performance of both Steed and Rider in difficult
moves such as loops, falls, and hovering. Aerial Stunt courses are run
ONLY with one Steed at a time, never in a group, and are judged purely
Aerial Complex courses are the most entertaining of all, for most viewers,
and the most demanding on the Steed and Rider. They combine the ground
aspects of galloping and hazards on the ground, with the possibility of
using flight to move around high obstacles, scale cliffsides, or skirt
water. This is often a timed event but with equal value placed on performance.
The distance traveled on an Aerial Complex course may be up to twenty
miles long, and can scale into very high altitudes to reach hovering checkpoints.
Unique to Flying Steed competitions are the Lift, Altitude Climb, Speed Climb. Lift is similar to the grounded Pulling contest, how much weight may the Steed actually drag into the air straight up? Holding this is not advised, but there are specially designed Steeds for rescue and pulling work, so there are clearly participants for those rare events. Altitude and Speed climb tests the ability to raise farther into the air than ever before or doing it to a certain height as fast as possible. Speed Diving, Single Skill or stunt events, also exist.
Something that both Grounded and Flying Steeds can participate in is the Show ring. These Steeds need not be able to fly with their wings, if they have them, all they must be is beautiful. Health, quality, stability and personality are all important, visual looks, scent, the ability to obey a command, all these things count. The Zekiran Steed show ring event is much more like a dog or cat show on Earth, than a horse show for us: the Steeds aren't necessarily going to be put through paces, or even tested to their speed or agility. Care and tack, training and intelligence are the important factors here.
Creating a Course
For using this Point based chart you can add up all the points and either compare it directly to the Total Points on a Steed, or divide it by 10 and compare it to the Steed's Maneuver score. This will give a good idea of how hard a course is. For every 100 points, consider an average Steed, 200 points and a good Steed will be challenged, 300 or more points and only the best Steeds will be able to attempt it.
To use the Steed Worksheet during a Race
Breeding Your Steed
The dominant male, only barely so now with the time between their original
and Zekiran settings, usually becomes more aggressive when he notices
more than one female in his area coming into estrus. He will attempt to
keep them near him, or more accurately keep others away from them. This
is a constant battle, of course, because the females don't necessarily
want to be isolated fom their comfortable herd partners.
Through displays such as pawing the ground, laying ears back and opening
wings (assuming the Steed has them), or even forceful play around the
females, the male attempts to show his prowess. Even if they are impressed
(which an Animal Master can inform the watcher) they will feign disinterest
until their cycle is fully appropriate. They will allow the male to mount
only then, and by this time there are often several others coming along
into their own cycles.
In a herd of twenty Steeds, then, there are often five or six males,
one of whom is the dominant aggressor and the others are submissive to
his will as long as he is watching them. The bulk of the herd are younger
females, with any three in some stage of cyclical readiness. Often there
are two pregnant mares, and one or more with a foal. The dominant male
usually stays so for around one season at a time, because by the time
a fifth or sixth mare comes into heat he is so exhausted by keeping vigilant
watch over his few the younger or next-in-line stallions will be able
to move in quite easily.
Note that there is never a time that Steeds are gelded. It is simply
not needed, because of their tame nature, and useless if they are as aggressive
as they would appear. On Earth the horses can be far more ornery than
Zekiran Steeds, but by gelding the males there is an obvious testosterone
connection. This seems not to be the case in Zekiran settings, since the
Steed is much more intelligent than its Earthly counterparts, they seem
to decide when they will be obstinate and when they will cooperate. If
a Steed is going to "be that way" usually an Animal Master is
called in to teach them or try and control the problem. Most "ornery"
Steeds wind up not getting Bred, not getting any special treatment, and
being pretty bitter about it all, too.
In clinical settings, the breeding situation can be handled by Animal
Masters. Most often they simply supervise medically the mare's cycle,
or even her mental state, and coax the pair chosen together with either
natural pheremones, artifically produced ones, or their mental powers.
In more rare circumstances, they take samples of both male and female
cells, and simply use the same techniques that 6th Degree Breeders do:
artificially inseminating the egg and potentially altering it, and then
implanting it with the proper devices in the mare.
Zekiran Steeds seem perfectly at ease with either situation, seemingly
having come to the same relaxation with reproductive care in clinical
settings as the Zekirans themselves, after such a long time in a completely
artificial setting aboard the generation ships before arrival to the new
It can be noted that Breeders (of human subjects) that are also Animal
Masters tend to have a more relaxed and comfortable setting in their clinics
than Breeders who are anything else as their secondary Status. Perhaps
they still understand the connections between animal and human brain chemistry,
perhaps they simply have more empathic power than others, or maybe they
just like being comfy.
In any case, the clinical setting may provide the Steed owner with a
more sure foaling, and certainly provides for the less random nature of
herd breeding. Most prize winning Steeds, racing or otherwise, have been
bred in clinics, rather than on the range.
Foaling takes place nearly a year after mating, and during the intervening
time, the Animal Master has complete dominion over a mare and her unborn
foal. If a BeastLord is even just walking along down a street and sees
something amiss on a nearby farm, they have every right to check up on
the owner, the conditions and the mare herself.
Since the growth of a foal - and in fact the entire inner workings of
Zekiran Steeds - is remarkably similar to that of Earthly horses, any
good book on the matter will complete the education necessary for learning
about the development of a foal, the health of the Steeds, and diseases
found on them. There are quite a number of good books on the subject,
so there is little need to go into the depth they do here, certainly for
play instruction it is unnecessary.
Exersise of the mare must be supervised when she begins to show her foal
weight. Her instincts will tell her to fly with her herd, and to even
take up challenges and race within the herd. At less than half a year,
this is perfectly all right. However when the mare begins gaining significant
weight her wings may not be able to support her properly, and with the
wrong conditions she may fall and injure both herself and the unborn foal.
She may get increasingly ornery in this time, if she is not at least tended
to and allowed some amount of physical exersize such as being trotted
or even pulling heavier objects than she's used to if she is a work Steed.
Most often, in the last month of pregnancy, she will slow down these activities
herself, or even become more easily exhausted with exersize. Then, if
a ranged Steed, she will decide on a birthing spot. If she is a stabled
Steed, she will attempt to nest in whatever space is there, and most often
in either case, her owners should supervise the birth.
Nesting is a herd behavior, where the mare separates from the herd but
not too far, if there are woods or light brush around the herd's normal
grazing area she will select a small and often covered locale for the
birth. She will use the ground litter, leaves and small branches, and
even discarded feathers (if of that variety) to bulk up a very bird-like
nest, and remain there from three to five days before the foal drops.
If she is stabled, she will not want to leave the nesting area, if ranged,
she will occasionally join the herd but will obviously appear nervous
when too far from her site.
Suffice to say that one year after the mating, the foal will drop. There
can be complications in birth due to the wings of the foal, that being
really the only difference in Earthly and Zekiran Steeds. Most births
will go swiftly, but around 15% of them may have some form of difficulty.
The foal MUST be head first out of the mare, otherwise the wings may sustain
permanent damage. As Earthly horses, a foal's forehoof ought to come out
first, then their nose. With Zekiran Steeds, their nose is shortly followed
by their wing-wrists (the highest mobile joint on the wing), and if the
wings are possitioned properly all should come out quickly. If a wing
is not in place, facing forward or the foal is otherwise positioned, an
Animal Master must be called in: it's not something that Joe Holder can
fix themself without damaging either the foal or the mare.
As Earthly horses, the foal is covered by membranes which must be broken
in order for it to begin breathing properly. Most often, the mare will
lick them off but if she shows no interest in doing so, the attendant
people nearby must do it, or the foal will suffocate. Most mares take
great interest in their foals, however some small portion (around 10%)
will either ignore or reject the foal. In these cases, the foal may be
hand raised or placed with a surrogate. The surrogate mares usually have
lost their own foal or are bred for this job.
As mentioned before the foal is considered to be inseperable from their
mother for three years, and then "young" for 7 more years! Unlike
Earthly horses, the Zekiran Steed is unable to breed while still with
her foal for at least the first two years. After that point she begins
to come back into estrus normally.
There are some mares who take much longer to do so, and it is a distressing
thing to note from an Animal Master's possition: all the indications are
there that they will repeat the disastrous Breeding habits of their human
counterparts in several thousand years! They may slowly begin to live
longer, but they may be incapable of Breeding often or at all. This is
not going to be a problem for the next ten thousand years, so don't worry
about it presently.
Foals are generally accepted to the herd if their mother also accepts them. Those which have been rejected stand only a 50% chance of the rest of the herd doing so. Animal Masters watch the interaction with the herd carefully during the first few weeks of a foal's life. If too many of a rejected foal's herdmates also reject them, they must be taken away or the herd may actually turn on it. Currently there is no available record of foals which have been rejected and why, but there are many Animal Masters working on this phenomenon. The proportion of Bred and Herd rejections are equal, so far as can be judged.
Lifestyles of the Zekiran Steed
Grounded Steeds usually are stabled. They tend to be owned in fewer numbers
then flying, and their range if they have one is most often smaller to
graze and run: flying Steeds require take-off space, while the grounded
ones obviously do not. Grounded Steeds require lower ceilings than flying,
clearly, and also less width in their stables. However, most grounded
Steeds will respond better with that space still provided, it is still
an obvious facet of their breeding which says that those wings were bred
out of the Grounded Steed, rather than the wings being bred on.
There are equal numbers of Grounded and Flying Steeds around the world,
but most people don't notice the grounded ones as a rule, unless they
distinguish themselves by having a certain coloration, temperment, or
winning their races. Flying Steeds always take precidence in Zekiran mindsets.
A FreeLandHolder who owns a Steed usually has only one or two, and they
will usually be of the grounded variety, because they are much cheaper
and easier to house. They are also easier to buy tack and equipment for,
even though flying ones are more popular. FreeWorkers who buy a Steed
must house it somewhere, and many times this gets them into Bond pretty
quickly. (Of course, simply selling off the Steed will take care of that.)
Flying Steeds are usually the ones owned by racing families, Owners usually,
and are most often bought in quantities over five. Flying Steeds seem
to do best with company, when a lower Status person buys their first Flying
Steed they may also already have one or two grounded ones as well, and
this suits the flier perfectly. For a variety of reasons: the flier is
more comforable and can be trained better with the presence of already-trained
Steeds, they can assert themself and become part of a herd mentality which
relaxes them, and if they are the only flier, they may also become the
head of that herd pretty quickly.
Flying Steed displays are often impressive to watch, both their mating
display and their dominance display. If they are feathered they often
"dance" and strut about (either sex, by the way, does this if
they are competing for a herd spot) with their wings held at angles which
cannot support weight: they're showing that they can fly too, in addition
to all this pretty color and flash. Leather-winged Steeds often use flapping
and "snapping" their wingtips, where they purposefully strike
the wings together above their backs, producing a loud noise. This display
also happens in feathered herds, but not often, and usually is very aggressive.
Displays of pure anger and aggression are rare, but always involve showing
teeth and lowering the head, so that the wingtips may actually strike
the opponent. This move is one which most racing Steeds are taught to
avoid, it is very wearing on their wings, and often they may break vital
flight feathers that way. The attack of a Steed is fast, brutal, and decisive.
They paw the ground, will strike with their forehooves first, then bite,
then lift their wings and clap them together over the eyes of their opponent.
Note that native animals will back the hell away from an aggressive Steed,
rather than attempt to take one down.
Both grounded and flying Steeds graze most of their waking hours. Ones
with supplimental food like Steed Feed products or cut hay and oats will
graze slightly less, but will always nibble. They love fruits, crunchy
ones particularly, and will never refuse a sprig of Zpara - it has a bit
of a narcotic effect on Steeds, opposite that of the Zekiran effect of
slightly caffeinating them. Most often, only older Steeds really like
sweet things. Steeds digest for a number of hours, and there are whole
departments of most cities' street cleaning crews devoted to nothing but
taking up the refuse and selling it off as fertilizer.
Flying Steeds are most often found as racers, rather than work Steeds.
Their wings do get in the way of pulling cart tack, but they are often
used as lifting services. Most of the lifters are very stable personality-wise,
calm and seem either more intelligent than their racing counterparts or
at least more trainable.
In either case, the racing Steed is the most important in terms of pure
money. Steeds which race must have been trained to do so, or at least
trained to race with someone on their back. There are no "harness
racing" games, other than chariot-style in the ring. The posing of
harness racing is far outweighed by the sheer thrill of chariots, though
a number of Animal Masters argue that these races are showing off both
the decadence of their society and the tempting of fate, with the number
of injuries on these races.
A losing Steed still gets raced once in a while, depending on who owns
them. Steeds which show profiency at speed or endurance racing are put
into a few local races first, if they show any promise then, they are
usually trained if that is affordable. For larger races, however, if the
owner or racer cannot prove they've had the Steed trained properly, they
may not even be allowed to participate, due to the level of complexity
or facing other Steeds. The losers are less often bred, but they are still
preferred over those Steeds which are never Raced!
A winning Steed on the other hand... Winning means money, plain and simple,
for the owner of the Steed and often their rider. These are not always
the same person, and there are two pots of winnings for just such occurances.
With the money which is made by winning even just a few times, even locally,
a FreeWorker might buy into Land Holding. From there, it's history. The
Steed gets better and better treatment, hopefully, and continues to win.
There, also, supporting the purchase of new Steeds, Breeding, and larger
Steeds also just like to win. They love the attention, they've been known
to show off for the crowds after an obvious win, while they're in the
circle. They show off far more for humans than for their other four-legged
Flocks of flying Steeds (called so when they're in flight, on the ground
they're still Herds) going overhead always attracts attention. An actual
flock of Steeds move in formation and accept their flight leader the same
way that they accept their dominant leader on the ground: however these
may not be the same Steed! The flurry of wings, colors and the sounds
of baying and huge flapping noises always gets a crowd of people looking
up. Poor saps if they're underneath the fallout of feces and loose feathers
and fur... Fortunately, since Zekirans are often fastidious and clean
freaks, they either don't build under the flight paths, or they insist
the flocks be kept to uninhabited areas. Animal Masters can alter a flight
path, nothing short of that can.
Flying Steeds usually take wing at least once per day, not less than
once every three days. Often they will soar for up to an hour, depending
on the weather and wind conditions up to three. Few feathered Steeds will
fly in rain, it seems that the leather-winged ones will take the blustery
conditions better and with more aggression, purely because they can. Feathered
Steeds can maintain their air time much longer than the leathery, but
both enjoy simply flying about. Flocking spans up to one hundred miles
distance, though sometimes the flock will simply circle over the same
ten or twelve mile area for an hour, on the updrafts.
Single Steeds flying will often just sprint into the air, circle about
for a while, and then come back down to the ground. If they are professional
racers, they may actively perform stunts or practice moves without being
told to, it's a matter of their training.
Once a Grounded Steed gets too old to pull or work otherwise, they are
put out to pasture if the owner can afford it, or sold to a place which
can. As mentioned before, there is never a time when a Steed is put down,
and old age is certainly no excuse to do so! Flying Steeds are a little
When they start showing signs of aging, and their performance (be it
in racing or work) starts to wane, they are phased out of the ring or
races or their work, but every attempt is made to keep them active as
long as they can. At the point when they cannot fly properly, they are
put to pasture as grounded Steeds are, but they must have attention paid
to their wings. Most fliers will still at least attempt to fly, just like
Earthly race horses are apt to run even after a fall or being put to stud.
For most fliers, this means they must have their wings clipped. Animal
Masters generally agree that this is best for the Steed, since it will
save them injuries incurred by flight and falls. Some Animal Masters will
attempt to psionically dissuade their Steeds from flight after a certain
point in their lives, but that is only successful when the BeastLord is
around full time.
Most show Steeds can be kept in their rings until their physical condition
deteriorates so much that they are not pretty enough or healthy enough
to compete, and there are age categories for the eldest of the Steeds,
for just such a reason. Show Steeds are beautiful usually until the final
years of their life.
Any Steed in its long years will appreciate being around other older
Steeds, though many respond well to Zekiran children and younger Steeds,
mainly foals. This benefits both animals, and certainly benefits children
because their exposure to gentler animals will often temper their own
attitudes. When a Steed is ready to die, their condition reflects it.
Their fur becomes matted and clumps off when groomed, their mane and tail
knot and begin falling out, their feathers if they have any are apt to
break and fall out without being replaced, their eyes fail, and they may
have respiratory or joint problems. Some Steeds who have become well known
may get a plot in a family burial ground, there are whole cemetaries devoted
to winning Steeds of certain breeds.
There are Steed Breeding houses which have samples of Steeds dating back several thousand years, or at the very least the computer coded information about the cells which could be customized. So even if a Steed dies, they may yet continue their contribution to the world!
Breeding Houses and Race Course Circuits
There are better and poorer known Breeding Houses, most of those less-well-known
may have their day. Just because their work isn't being recognized doesn't
make a House a bad one! When there is a House known for producing bad
results, however, there's the issue of how long they're going to be in
The best of the best is Morgontain's. Her Ri'iri facility is well known
for producing both the best in Tuned mutants, as well as some fabulous
Steeds. She usually supervises the use of the machinery, Breeding Steeds
the newfangled way. Once she knows she has a viable foal ready, it is
transferred to a mare in one of her other facilities, and trained either
by her, or by one of her assistants. Morgontain's family is spread out
over Curra and Zerin, and when they participate together, the results
are often stunning. Morgontain's facilities produce hardy endurance-racers
and calm, intelligent hunting Steeds.
Morgontain's son Salem is also well-known for his Steed breeding, he
works directly with the Steed Feed company to produce not only animals
which work with their foods better but simply outrageous needs for the
food growers! Salem is working on Big Steeds, really Big Steeds. They
eat a lot, they cost three times what a normal Steed does. He's working
on both grounded and flying versions, but the fliers are outright terrifying
to behold, with their 40 foot wingspans!
The next best known and certainly the next best in quality overall are
the Kshaus. Bred by Morgontain anyway, they are a huge extended family
of Animal Masters and Land Holders, nearly all of whom work with Steeds
or animals in general. They pay special attention to racing Steeds, and
have a very high standard for their racers. They will train anyone, usually
with success. It isn't as much that they train people to win, exactly,
but they will allow nearly anyone to race with their Steeds as long as
they are trained properly for it. The Steeds themselves tend to be smart,
fast, and sensible, and are amenable to far more mental commands than
other Steeds. The Kshau family also runs one of the largest Racing circuits
in the world, owning the lands and running the races.
The Haital family uses their lands for many racing facilities, betting
areas, and boarding for Steeds, though few of them actually participate
in the races themselves. They are able to hire the best in the business
otherwise, broadly speaking, and the Steeds they tend to put into races
tend to do well. Fast, bold Steeds come from the Haital facilities, like
their own family.
Lish Tiir is extremely well known for loving Steeds. The ones she creates
may not always win, but they look good, are very healthy, and tend to
be sweet-tempered and good with people. She produces more in the way of
work Steeds than racers, and devotes equal amounts of time to grounded
Rachael's facilities are comparable to Morgontain's in their high-tech
aspects, she works with samples mainly, and when she can does so directly
instead of allowing anyone else to do it for her. She also trains Steeds
for high-dexterity moves, tight courses, and racing which requires more
Certain Areas and Cities also have well-known general benefits. In the
north of Imaa, the city of Mofto is a racing and breeding site with speed
as the main course. On the east coast, Emnta is "a Steed Paradise".
Mostly the betting and racing aspects, but the land is healthy and good
for grazing. In the badlands north of Emnta is Dre, not the nicest of
places in general but the race training is already providing excellent
high-danger conditions and surely the zone will be included in future
circuit choices. In Difar, J'ren is a good place for obstical racing,
low-flight and even grounded-marsh races. Up in the central Difar area,
Geses is the locale for the yearly Steed Championship races, which lead
directly into the Grand Championships which occur once every ten years.
t. Pukaet in the southern areas of Difar is excellent for the fully aerial
and long-distance races, since the landscape is largely flat or very slightly
hilly. In the central scrublands, Quman is an excellent land to Breed
and keep Steeds. The health of Steeds bred there is considered top-quality.
Vimit, still in Difar, is an all around racing town. All sorts of racing
and levels of challenge are available there, and for many age groups.
Zogan has aspirations, but has not yet established itself as a racing
- Race Courses individually follow-