In a future society, nanotech and super science has made a thing called horse bags. You buy a bag from the store, stuff some dirt in there, and a few hours later a trained horse comes out. You can ride this horse around and do whatever you want to do with horses. This technology is important for the development of remote areas with minimal resources for advanced tech.

The horse bag has dials so you can tweak the growth of your horse in a few standardized and easy ways to get your desired horse type. You are not allowed to directly interface with horse bags, because that carries a risk of someone hacking the nanites and causing a disaster. They are set to refuse any non dial done modifications.

I don't know much about horses. What would be the ideal settings to be able to tweak on the bag? The purpose is to make them useful frontier horses that can carry goods and manage manual labour.

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    – L.Dutch
    Commented Mar 21 at 4:02

1 Answer 1


Base it off of the medieval horse classification system

During the medieval period, before official horse breeds had names, horses were categorized into one of 4 types: Destriers, Palfreys, Draft Horses, and Rounceies.

A Destrier was a small fast sprinting horse, typically used as a warhorse. A Palfrey was a mid-sized long distance riding horse bred to maximize stamina and comfort for the rider. A Draft Horse was a big slow work horse used for plowing and pulling carts bred to maximize strength and ruggedness. Finally a Rouncey was a well rounded horse, typically bread for poorer land owners who could only afford one horse to do every job.

Since biology is all about tradeoffs of inner connected systems, the job of designing dials is not as easy as just dialing up or down an attribute. You can't just make a big, fast, strong, endurant horse with a smooth gait because the features you need to add to a horse for one of these traits can take away from another. Instead your dials should represent one of the 3 whole body plans, and your ability to customize a horse comes from blending the 3 body plans together.

The best way to do this is to make a triangular slider like the one shown below. Each corner represents an idealized version of one of the horse types, and all of the in-betweens are blends of these horses. As you move the dial, all of the body traits that represent a horse type adjust in proportion to how far you move it. Because related traits scale together, you don't have to worry about making a lame horse by doing something silly like giving it really fast muscles, but making it so big that it rips itself apart trying to run. You just dial in the class of horse you want and the bag decides the best proportion of attributes to get you there.

enter image description here

Why Use dials at all?

As breeding evolved, we got a lot more in-between horses that were each blended to be ideal for specific types of work. For example, an ideal Destrier might be best for light cavalry, but if you want to go into battle wearing heavy plate armor, blending in a bit of draft horse will keep your horse from being too weak to carry you, or if you are a scout, blending in a bit of palfrey would help give it the endurance it needs to cover more ground.

So, when you'd go to a horse breeder, it was not just about min-maxing horses. All of the in between horses were ideal for different roles too; so, by dialing in the horse, it's like having access to a wide range of horse breeders to be able to get just the horse you need for the job.

enter image description here

  • $\begingroup$ Thank you for this answer. It's definitely not something I would have gotten through googling it and has a relevant and clear plan to accomplish my goals. $\endgroup$
    – Nepene Nep
    Commented Mar 19 at 20:56

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