The Sims 4 Horse Ranch launched on July 20, 2023, and while I was really excited to get horses, the expansion is so buggy it’s killed my desire to play. The main features of Horse Ranch are running your own horse ranch (as the name suggests), bonding with your horses, baby sheep and baby goats, competing with your horse, and making nectar. There is also a new world called Chestnut Ridge.
I actually had a devastating event leading up to the launch of Horse Ranch, good news is I got a brand new super decked out PC, bad news is my old hard drive crapped the bed and I lost ALL my Sims 4 save data. Almost a decade worth of Sims, builds, saves…all gone. I’ll admit, it actually really bums me out, but I usually make new Sims for each expansion I review anyway, so for now it’s okay. I will really miss my Disney Princess challenge saves, and my first starter Sim family though.
There are new aspirations and traits with Horse Ranch, so of course I created my Sim with those to see all the expansion has to offer. I was quite happy with the clothing and hair choices this time around, and was able to create my new Sim, Brynn Ireland, with almost everything from the expansion. As always, I don’t play with CC so everything within my game is original Sims 4 content. Some of the pieces I liked were the winter jacket and riding boots ; paired with some black leggings makes for such a cute look in cold weather. The over the shoulder braid is a classic yet simple look. A very cute pair of ankle boots go with just about everything. I think the team nailed the ranch slash western wear vibe for CAS, there is both classic western and modern country going on.
The horses are simply precious and you can also dress them up in CAS. I’ve started out with a foal named Buttermilk, and a stallion which I had to rename Shadowfax. There are plenty of blankets, saddles, harness, mane and decoration items to fully customize your horse’s look.
The Build Mode items are also spot on, if you’re looking to make a ranch or country themed build, all the expected items are there. Sliding barn doors, wooden rocking chairs, cute farm decor, water pumps, and racing barrels are just a few of the items you get to work with in Build Mode. Of course, your new farm animals will need places to eat, drink, and sleep, and the Hay Now! water trough, feeder, and bed have you covered. You will need to keep these items clean and stocked.
Now, I wish I could say my new ranch life has been carefree and fun, but literally not even three minutes into my new game on the Palomino Junction lot, my Sim, Brynn, walked over to “put her feet in the water” in the pond on my lot and got stuck. I could not move her with cheat commands, could not cancel her actions, nothing worked. I had to exit the game and start over, thankfully since it was right at the start I didn’t lose anything. This has now happened four separate times, in the same spot. I’ll be moving to a new location soon.
My first goal was getting a horse, which you can do from your phone under the Home app, Call Ranch Animal Exchange. You can either rescue a horse for $200 simoleons, or buy one for $1000. Since my aspiration is to become a championship rider, I chose to purchase two, an adorable foal and a beautiful stallion. After taking my stallion into the CAS to make him beautiful, I got right to work by mounting him and going through the barrel course on my property. Things are going pretty well with him and I, and he’s only tossed me off once.
I took him over to the Hay Now! Equestrian Center to try my hand at a competition, which we clearly were not ready for. Losing a competition makes both you, and your horse sad, but thankfully the moodlet doesn’t last for too long. Building up your skills and bond with your horse allows you to have more interaction with them, as well as commanding them to practice the competition skills on their own without you having to mount and ride with them. There is a Horse Trainer Sim in town that will help you train your horses for a fee, you just have to let the horse stay with her for the designated time, and it will gain skill while it’s gone.
Of course I had to adopt some of the ridiculously cute baby sheep and goats, so I had two of each delivered. These bundles of joy work a lot like the chickens and llamas from Cottage Living, they have happiness, cleanliness, hygiene, and comfort that need to be attended to. With six farm animals, it was becoming too much to manage for just Brynn, so I hired a ranch hand via my phone. Not sure if this is a bug or if it’s just typical Sims 4 nonsense, but he would stay long after he was supposed to, hardly do any work on the actual ranch, and even went to sleep on my couch at one point.
The town of Chestnut Ridge has a nightclub where you can learn a “square dance” called the Cow Poke dance. There is also a bar, the Hay Now! Equestrian Center, and a park that you can travel to and meet townies.
Now, I can usually power through bugs in The Sims 4, but some of the things I have encountered in Horse Ranch are literally game breaking, and unenjoyable. My little foal Buttermilk almost died because it was bugged playing with a big beach ball and would not respond to commands or cheats to move her. Once again, I had to revert back to an old save to free her. Trying to brush a baby sheep results in me sitting several feet away from the sheep, going through the motions while the sheep is nowhere near me. I have two beds down for the animals, which can only be cleaned when unoccupied. Even though NOBODY is anywhere near the beds, I cannot clean them. They got filthy, and I ended up having to delete them and buy new ones because neither I or the ranch hand could clean them. Add in my Sim getting stuck in the pond and it’s getting pretty old having to leave the game or delete things to get it working again.
Another thing that falls short is the Hay Now! Equestrian Center. It’s a huge building that takes up a large part of the map, but you cannot go inside of it. I’d love to watch my Sim actually compete! You can use the small area outside to train on, but it would have been much cooler to go inside to watch events and interact with Sims.
I have not even touched the new Nectar making skill, because quite frankly it’s a pain to have to worry about something getting bugged and having to exit the game, and I’ve kind of just given up. Unfortunately this has taken the ambition away from me to continue on with Horse Ranch, which is a real shame because honestly this expansion has so many wonderful aspects to it but the bugs are too much. Sims fans, myself included, have been begging for horses for ages now. There is no denying that the ranch animals are adorable, but if you can’t even play the game it doesn’t really matter. Hopefully a patch will fix these issues, but knowing the track record for that happening in The Sims I won’t hold my breath. If it somehow does, I’d love to come back and alter my review.
Holly Hudspeth is a best-selling author living in Fort Worth, Texas. She has six published novels to date; The Skyy Huntington Series, which is an epic dark fantasy adventure, and One Small Detail, a stand-alone medieval fantasy. Holly also enjoys writing fan fiction based on her avatars from games such as EverQuest, Elder Scrolls Online, and World of Warcraft. Her first major purchase at the established age of nine was the NES, and she has been gaming ever since. She enjoys fantasy games, city builders, RPGs, MMOs, SMITE, and The Sims franchise. Most nights she is in SMITE with her husband and friends, or playing ESO. When she isn't gaming, she is probably either at Disney or planning her next trip there.
The Sims 4 Horse Ranch
The Sims 4 Horse Ranch is unfortunately a wonderful concept rendered almost unplayable due to bugs, and both my Sim and animals getting stuck. The CAS clothing items and Build Mode pieces are fantastic and add a lot to the game, especially if building a ranch or country theme is your jam. Bonding with your horse and the interactions between both your Sim and the animals is heartwarming, and riding is loads of fun. I’d have liked to see more with the Equestrian Center and competitions, not being able to go inside is kind of a bummer and a waste of space. As much as I’d have loved to explore all that Horse Ranch has to offer, I just can’t play it in its current state. I’d love to adjust my review at a later date if things improve.