After a few leaks and hints, The Sims 4 has finally dropped the first look at its Horse Ranch expansion coming on July 20. This has been a long time coming for equestrian Sims fans who’ve been hoping for the addition of horses since their last appearance in The Sims 3 Pets expansion in 2011. But while a western-themed pack with ranching and goats may sound fun to the average Sims player, the hardcore horse enthusiasts already sound concerned.
The trailer for the Horse Ranch expansion showcases miniature goats, ranch decor, and a new world called Chestnut Ridge that has a western North American flair. There are cowboy hats, horse jumping competitions, and grape-stomping for wine making too.
EA goes into more detail about the features in Horse Ranch on its website. Horses and foals will be a part of your Sims’ families the way cats and dogs are and will have special interactions with human Sims and other horses. You’ll be able to saddle up and ride into town, train at an equestrian park, and use Create-A-Sim tools to customize your ride. Horses will also have four skills: Temperament, Agility, Jumping, and Endurance that you can work to train on obstacle courses and show off in competitions.
EA also notes its collaboration with sensitivity reader Stacey Parshall Jensen, who consulted on the expansion. “Stacey worked to co-create food, home items, and clothing that are represented in Horse Ranch, reflecting elements of Native American culture,” EA says. “To celebrate the launch of this pack, The Sims team is making a donation to Sacred Healing Circle, a 100% Indigenous founded and led organization working to support Indigenous communities through preserving traditional methodologies and practices, including the Native American Horse Preservation and Research Program.”
Naturally, the accuracy of the horses themselves is what all the horse gamers who’ve been anticipating this expansion have fixated on. The initial opinion from experts is a bit mixed, from the horse sources I’ve observed, leaning towards warily whelmed. Some have commented that the animations and proportions are a bit awkward. Others have noted that there’s a big emphasis on Western style riding and saddles, given the theme, and only a very quick glimpse of an English saddle. Understadable, except they point out that seeing a Western rider on those horse show jump courses is quite unusual.
Horse game consultant Alice Rupert writes on The Mane Quest that despite the initial animation awkwardness, the real thing to look forward to might be the return of the strong horse mods community that supported The Sims 3. Horse photographer and RDR2 posse leader Chelsea Farace is more positive about the animations and features in her initial reaction, though I would say that general player sentiment in both communities is optimism tempered by wariness about accuracy.
The Sims 4 Horse Ranch expansion will launch on July 20 for $40.