Equidirus hoplites - feared armored horse
Gray w/ blue stripes
Approximately 4 meters
Approximately 4.25 meters
|Behind the Scenes|
Direhorses (Na'vi name: pa'li) are nectarivores, vaguely horse-like in appearance, with very long necks and small heads. They are roughly the size of an elephant. They are native creatures of Pandora.
When wild, the animals move together in a loose herd through the forests, feeding on tree bark and shrubs. Herds numbering in the dozens have been spotted from aircraft, but evidence (including scatological and plant impact) suggests that herds of more than one hundred animals are not uncommon.
The direhorse, as with most native creatures of Pandora, has two long, thin antennae (called a neural whip by humans) that emerge from either side of the top of the skull. These appendages have feathery tips that are covered in tiny cilia which undulate constantly and seek out the antennae of other direhorses as they move near. Xenobiologists believe that the touch of antennae is not only for pleasure and affection, but also is a means of transferring information about food sources and potential dangers. Herds often move in unison shortly after touching antennae.
The animals are easily startled and, when all six legs are working in unison, can reach ninety-five kilometers per hour. The direhorse is larger by a third than the largest Terran draft horses such as the Shire, Clydesdale or the Percheron, which makes it substantially larger than the biggest horse ever recorded on Earth, being approximately the size of an Asian elephant. The Na'vi are excellent riders and the direhorse, with its six legs, is a swift and nimble mount that is well-adapted to the rugged Pandoran terrain.
Like several other Pandoran animals, there are lines of operculi down the neck to increase the amount of air they can intake with each breath. It also has a sail-like "mane" that perhaps plays a part in signaling.
The direhorse is an omnivore that uses its long snout, as well as its long giraffe-like tongue, to feed on sap. It is able to capture some protein intake through insects trapped inside the sap. They also use these tongues to feed on nectar from certain flowers. This process is beneficial to the flowers in question, as it enables pollination. 
Relationship with the Na'vi
Direhorses can be tamed to aid their riders in the hunt and in battle. To bond with (or, in human terms, to "break") a direhorse, a Na'vi must mount the animal and connect their neural queue to one of the animal's antennae (or neural whips). Once queue and antenna touch, the feathery tendrils automatically intertwine as if possessed of free will. Although the exact motivating force remains unknown, it is believed that the antennae may secrete a pheromone that evokes the unique intertwining.
Once intertwined, the Na'vi rider can communicate motor commands instantly through the neural interface. The apparent lack of effort makes it seem as if the direhorse is an extension of the rider's own body. This frees up the Na'vi to use a bow and arrow during a hunt or battle. Unlike the mountain banshee, however, the neural link made between rider and direhorse does not lead to a lifelong, exclusive bond between Na'vi and animal. Although Na'vi have their favorite mounts, it is possible and permissible to ride another clan member's direhorse. The direhorse is a perfect mount to ride in the obstacle-strewn close quarters of a Pandoran forest. The direhorse can turn on a dime, has excellent reaction times and can leap large distances. Direhorses are the perfect warfare mount for the Na'vi and played a crucial part in the final battle between the Na'vi and humans. Direhorses are an important part of many clans, such as the Olangi clan. Besides the banshee, the animals serve as the main mode of transportation for the Omaticaya clan.
- The call of the direhorse is the same as the cry made by the Velociraptor in Jurassic Park in the kitchen scene when the children, Tim and Lex, are hiding and a raptor calls to her packmate.
- The direhorse may have been inspired in part by the Thoats, the eight-legged mounts in Edgar Rice Burroughs' Martian stories.
- They also bear resemblance to Sleipnir, the eight-legged stallion of Odin in Norse Mythology.
- A closer look at the direhorse reveals that it has four eyes, and that the smaller two have horizontal goat-like pupils.
- The term "direhorse" may be a reference to "dire beasts" commonly featured in many fantasy settings. Dire beasts are often depicted as larger, stronger, and deadlier versions of "normal" animals (which in turn may be inspired by the real-life Dire Wolf).