Those anxiously awaiting their first look at the Minecraft 1.6 update don't have to wait any longer, as both the Minecraft launcher and Snapshot 13w16a which released by Mojang on Thursday.

After taking a few weeks off from the Minecraft snapshot grind, while various Mojang staffers made appearances at PAX East and GDC 2013, the Minecraft dev team is back with the first preview snapshot for the Minecraft 1.6 update. More than a month after Snapshot 13w11a hit the web, giving Minecraft players their first chance to play around in Minecraft 1.5.1, Snapshot 13w16a brings a long-rumored addition to the world of Minecraft: horses.

New mounts aren't all that Mojang has to offer though, with a new Minecraft launcher and a handful of new blocks making their in-game debut on Thursday despite some fears that the first Minecraft 1.6 preview snapshot wouldn't be ready any sooner than Friday. In addition to horses, Minecraft snapshot 13w16a also introduces leashes, to keep your steed(s) from abandoning you, and hay bales for feeding your horses.

Of course, many people experienced a wide variety of issues with the updated Minecraft launcher, leading us to believe that this is likely to be the first of many Minecraft 1.6 preview snapshots which will be released in the coming weeks. Thankfully, the new Minecraft launcher does seem to have made updating as easy as Mojang claimed, with the team pushing two Minecraft launcher updates to the Windows build within 30 minutes of our own download.

The new Minecraft launcher drastically simplifies the process of playing the latest Minecraft snapshot, with a single dropdown offering players the ability to change which game build they'd like to load -- once the new Minecraft launcher reaches version 1.0 that is. Minecraft programmer Nathan "Dinnerbone" Adams says it will also help the folks at Mojang troubleshoot the errors encountered by five to ten percent of the Minecraft community with the launch of each major Minecraft update. The revamped Minecraft launcher is also apparently a vital part of the team's (oft delayed) Minecraft API plans.

It's unclear if we might see the same sort of blistering Minecraft snapshot production which accompanied the end of the Minecraft 1.5 Redstone Update's development, but any return to normalcy for the weekly Minecraft snapshot releases is likely to be welcomed by the community.

Head over to Mojang's official site for full details on the new Minecraft launcher and information on how to download the first official Minecraft 1.6 preview snapshot.

Here's the full Minecraft Snapshot 13w16a change log: [UPDATED via Jens Bergensten]

    • - Added wheat storage blocks hay bales - via

      • -- Screenshot
      • -- Can be placed in all orientations
    • - Added horses

      • -- Screenshots
      • -- Ridable by right-clicking them - Hold the jump key to fill up their jump bar, release it to jump accordingly, steer them by using the usual movement keys - maximum movement speed and jump height differ between horses
      • -- Have various amounts of maximum health, via - Use wheat to heal them
      • -- Drop leather when killed
      • -- Can be bred using wheat - Baby horses can be grown using apples, golden apples and wheat
      • -- Players can make them jump
      • -- Creation assisted by DrZhark
    • - Added mules

      • -- Like horses, but can carry chests on their saddles
    • - Horse saddles

    • - Horse armor

    • - Leashes

      • -- Can be used to bind mobs to fences or lead them around
      • -- Screenshot
      • -- Right click mob first, then right-click fence or right-click the mob again to get the leash back
    • - Carpets

    • - When riding something, like a mob or a boat, dismounting is only possible using the left shift key now - via
    • - Improved Respiration enchant

      • -- Now also helps seeing underwater
    • - Changed the idea of mob difficulty

    • - Fixed some bugs

      • -- Fixed anvils charging level for nothing when using languages other than English
      • -- Fixed endermen becoming hostile when taking environmental damage

What else would you like to see added to the game when the Minecraft 1.6 update goes live sometime next month? Wish Mojang stuck with rideable pigs instead of introducing horses to Minecraft?

Let us know in the comments section!

More Minecraft 1.6 News:

Minecraft 1.6 Release Date Still Unknown, First Snapshot Could Be Coming Later This Week

Minecraft 1.6 Release Date Update: Will Mojang Finally Add Horses To Minecraft?

Minecraft 1.6 Release Date: Find Out When Mojang Expects To Launch The Next Major Minecraft Update