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Star Wars: Rise of Skywalker space horses aren't horses, or in space

They're orbaks, and did you notice their tusks?

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- 03:40

Saddle up. We need to talk about the space horses in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. First seen in the October trailer that aired during Monday Night Football (and on Carrie Fisher's birthday, no less), they galloped along again Tuesday when a new promo clip from the upcoming film was published on Twitter and Instagram.

The scene pops up about 25 seconds into the 30-second clip, and don't blink, or they'll gallop right out of the frame. Finn (John Boyega) appears to be riding a white creature, and a new character, apparently Jannah (Naomi Ackie), is riding what looks like a brown or black one. (Spoilers ahead. Who's Jannah? We're not saying she's for sure a certain iconic character's daughter, but she might be.)

And just what are they riding? They look like horses, they gallop like horses, but thanks to a Vanity Fair photo spread from May, we know they're "orbaks." Thanks to the Annie Leibovitz photo, and to video shared by The Star Wars Show on YouTube, we know a little bit about what the creatures look like.

They've been dubbed "space horses" as a slangy way to identify them. But they're physically different from horses. Their body structure is that of a regular horse, and using Finn and Jannah's size for perspective, they seem to be maybe Clydesdale size. They're covered in long. shaggy, dog-in-winter-style fur. Their most non-horsey feature? The badass tusks that curl up from below their elongated foreheads and muzzles.

The tusks aren't enormously long, but they're sharp, and look like a useful weapon in close combat. They also seem to be where the riders wrap their reins for control. Though in the Leibovitz photo, Jannah is leaning back to fire her bow, one foot in a stirrup, one foot leaning against her arrow quiver. You get the impression she could ride that orbak through a flaming hoop and not even slow down.

One fan suggested Disney start marketing these creatures, and fast. "Disney better start building stables in Galaxy's Edge cause I want to ride an orbak," one Twitter user wrote.

And either the orbaks are decked out in war paint, or Finn's mount just naturally has a forehead and muzzle that look like a cartoon of a T-bone steak. (Entertainment Weekly confirms that real horses were used.)

Ackie told Total Film magazine that she trained three times a week for seven months to learn to ride like a pro.

"By the end of it, I could canter without any hands," she told the magazine. "I could play catch with balls while on a horse."

"Space horses" is a catchy name, but sadly, they can't just canter through space -- they're planet-bound. But which planet? The orbaks are reportedly natives of the desert planet Pasaana, but numerous fans point out on social media that in one scene, they're being ridden on what looks like a grassy area. Maybe Pasaana isn't full-on desert?

"It has been said the Orbaks are from Pasaana," one Twitter user points out. "It has also been said Pasaana is the desert world, yet ... behold grass as Finn rides an Orbak into battle. Conclusion, first Star Wars film to have a multi-climate planet."

Some wondered if the orbaks really were from Pasaana, which might explain the non-desert background -- and maybe the long fur, which doesn't seem very useful in a hot desert climate. But for now, no one at Disney is letting much out of the barn when it comes to orbakology.

In a scene from the recent promo clip and the October trailer, the orbaks appear to be riding out for battle, with BB-8 rolling right along. A writer for Inverse says they're on the ice planet Kijimi. The scene behind them does look cold and desolate, so maybe orbaks travel well?

They're certainly not the first horse-like character in the Star Wars series. For all its spaceships and technological travel, Star Wars characters know how to saddle up when they need to.

Luke famously rode a tauntaun in The Empire Strikes Back, and Star Wars: The Last Jedi introduced fans to another horsey creature, the fathier. But considering how much buzz the porg earned in the past, the orbak deserves at least that much attention. 

More will doubtless be revealed when Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker opens worldwide on Dec. 20, with previews on Dec. 19.