The Sims 4: Horse Ranch expansion is full of Western charm

Sims players have long been hoping to see horses introduced into The Sims 4, especially after they were initially baked into The Sims 3: Pets expansion pack back in 2011. That long wait is over. The Sims 4’s newest expansion pack, Horse Ranch, brings horses into the current generation of the game with a whole host of new gameplay and storytelling options for horse lovers to dig into.

In a press preview event, several Sims 4 team members, including the production director JoAnna Lio and lead producer George Pigula, walked press members through the expansion pack’s offerings — from the new world of Chestnut Ridge, building out the perfect ranch, to gameplay mechanics like riding, training, and bonding with horses.

Horse Ranch brings with it a focus on ranch life and connecting with horses in new ways, through bonding with your horses in order to compete together and giving players the chance to build out the ranch of their dreams. For new and long-time players alike, the pack looks to expand on the previous iteration of The Sims horses, opening the door for some relaxingly chaotic ranch storytelling.

A big, wide world

The world introduced in Horse Ranch is called Chestnut Ridge. There are three neighborhoods of the world to be found with plenty of horse-related names including Galloping Gulch, New Appaloosa, and Rider’s Glen. Just as we would expect from a ranching expansion, Chestnut Ridge takes heavy inspiration from American Midwest landscapes with lots of rock outcroppings, dusty trails, and a long, winding river.

And while we weren’t able to look at every different lot (sections in each Sims world where players can build and design homes or community buildings,) there are a total of 13 lots in Chestnut Ridge to be found. Players who enjoy building on larger lots will be excited, with a new 50 by 50 lot and an empty 6 by 64 lot available in Galloping Gulch and Rider’s Glen respectively.

A Sim stands next to a horse, brushing it. The horse is a light tan color with white spots and a brown mane and tail.

One thing that stands out in Chestnut Ridge was the fact that there are a ton of large, open spaces that are perfect for horses to roam around. The team behind Horse Ranch pointed out that the neighborhoods were made to have these larger spaces specifically for Sims and horses to explore together, even noting that players will really want to take time to explore the trails to discover activities and to train their horse riding skill, newly available with the pack.

Players will find a busy social scene within the world, with a number of new Sims who call Chestnut Ridge home. And while visiting those Sims on their home lots is an option, there are plenty of ways to meet them out and about, including a bar where line dances take place, the equestrian park, and even just by moseying around town or trail on horseback.

Horsin’ around on your ranch

The real stars of Horse Ranch are, of course, the horses themselves. Horses, just like cats and dogs before them, are considered household members, so they will take up one of the eight household slots that are available in each Sim house (there are currently no plans to expand the number of household members in The Sims 4). They’re fully customizable within Create-A-Sim, where you can choose from over 30 real-world horse breeds, like the Fresian, or you can play around with all of the details like coat color, body mass, and mane and tails to create your own custom horse. And just like with Sims, cats, and dogs, horses also have unique traits that can be chosen like Brave, Defiant, Fearful, and Mellow.

A full shot of the equestrian center in The Sims 4: Horse Ranch. It's a large white building with a green root and stable doors. A fenced in riding arena is out front.

Creating horses isn’t the only way to get your new four-legged friend either. Players can purchase, rescue, and breed horses. Breeding horses will reveal some special traits that you can only see in a foal or horse that has been bred. Horses have four different skills that can be developed too: Agility, Jumping, Endurance, and Temperament. All of these skills will contribute to how well a horse does when it competes in one of several equestrian competitions players will find at the equestrian center.

Most of the competitions are Western-style, though you will find a few nods to English-style riding in the expansion pack as well. There are five different competitions to compete in: Barrel Racing, Show Jumping, Endurance Racing, Western Pleasure, and the Ultimate Horse Championship. And while we didn’t get a chance to see details of the competitions, players can expect to receive rewards for winning competitions including Simoleons (the in-game currency) and decorative plaques.

The nitty-gritty of ranch life

Horse Ranch looks to bring a lot to the table, both in the big and little details. Alongside all of the new horse-related additions, there’s also quite a bit to dig into when it comes to ranch life as well. New traits and aspirations exist for Sims, including Horse Whisperer and Championship Rider, and Expert Nectar Maker respectively.

Nectar, for those of you who might not have encountered it before, is the equivalent of wine in The Sims. In Horse Ranch, Sims will be able to grow ingredients that they can use to make nectar — either to enjoy all for themselves or to turn a profit. You might even be able to learn some secret nectar recipes from other Sims found in Chestnut Ridge.

A blue stable sits in the background. A horse is being pet by a Sim in green clothes, a toddler is walking towards another Sim who is shearing a sheep, and a child Sim is riding a horse on hte right side of the picture. A fifth Sim is squashing ingredients in a large bucket to make nectar.

Miniature goats and sheep will also help to fill out your ranch. They can be milked and sheared, respectively, and even provide wool and milk if players have the Cottage Living expansion pack as well.

All of the tasks needed to run a ranch in this expansion pack certainly seem like they can add up quickly which is why it was nice to see that you’ll be able to hire a ranch hand. Ranch hands can be hired off of a board in town, and can help maintain horses, harvest plants, repair items, and more! For players who want to shift ranch work around so they can focus on bonding and training with their horses, bringing on a ranch hand seems like it’ll be super helpful so you can live out your best horse-lover life — be that through exploring trails, competing, or building out the perfect ranch.

The Sims 4: Horse Ranch expansion pack launches on July 20 across all platforms.

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