Back in 2006, we selected 30 of our favorite horse films in honor of Horse Illustrated’s 30th year.
Here are 30 great horse movies.
Although some horse people won’t admit it, a perfect night is spent in front of the television watching horse movies. Our favorites vary in terms of technical merit, but they’re all loved for the simple reason that they tell good stories. Did we miss your favorite film? Click “Submit a Comment” at the end of this article and share your picks for best horse flicks.
In search of a hefty paycheck, cowgirl Melissa Gilbert enlists a former cavalryman to help her win a prestigious three-day event with her favorite bronco.
Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron
As a wild stallion travels across the frontiers of the Old West, he be friends a young human and finds true love with a mare.
The Silver Stallion: King of the Wild Brumbies Russell Crowe plays a part in this movie about an Australian wild horse and the impact he has on a rural family.
Based on the book by Laura Hillenbrand, this true story tells of the undersized Depression-era racehorse whose victories lifted not only the spirits of the team behind it but also those of the nation as well.
National Velvet Liz Taylor, as Velvet Brown, lives the dream we all had as children—win a horse in a lottery and turn him into a champion. In this case, young Velvet disguises herself as a boy and wins England’s famous Grand National steeplechase on her beloved Pie.
The Man From Snowy River An entertaining and visually stunning Australian western about a born horseman who single-handedly rounds up a herd of wild horses and pursues a rich rancher’s daughter.
Ladyhawke While not strictly about horses, this fantasy film stars a fabulous Friesian, who became the heartthrob of many horse people when the movie was released in 1985.
International Velvet This is a sequel of sorts to “National Velvet.” A family tragedy brings Velvet’s niece, Sarah, to England. Sarah joins forces with a descendant of the great Pie and eventually makes the British three-day event team where she finds Olympic glory and true love.
Enthusiastic equestrians work long and hard to earn British Horse Society certification.
Set in 1890, this is the story of a Pony Express courier (Viggo Mortensen) who travels to Arabia to compete with his horse, Hidalgo, in a dangerous race for a big prize.
The Electric Horseman In his pre-whispering days, Robert Redford starred in this story about a former rodeo cowboy who abandons the Las Vegas stage and takes off into the desert astride a former Derby winner.
A Day at the Races The Marx Brothers go to the races. Enough said.
Champions This testament to the strength of the human spirit is based on the life of English steeplechase jockey Bob Champion who was stricken with cancer at the age of 31 but never wavered in his dream of winning the Grand National.
The Black Stallion Returns In this sequel to “The Black Stallion,”Alec Ramsey travels to the Middle East to rescue his kidnapped horse.
Black Beauty Several versions have been created based on Anna Sewell’s classic book. Beauty tells his own story about leaving his wonderful first home and being passed through indifferent and abusive owners before finally being reunited with the boy he loved.
The Story of Seabiscuit The 1949 film version of the unlikely champion, complete with a perfect Hollywood ending. Seabiscuit, a colt no one believes in, rises from the claiming ranks to become one of most successful racehorses of the 1930s.
Something to Talk About
Julia Roberts stars as Grace, a Southern woman who discovers that her husband has been unfaithful. Although moderately funny, the movie makes our list for its horsey scenes. Grace’s father breeds show horses and her daughter rides.
A true tale about the Irish Thoroughbred who was kidnapped by the IRA and never seen again.
This movie chronicles the life of the much-loved Australian racehorse Phar Lap, who raced to stardom in the 1930s, and the gentle groom who loved him. Despite having to carry increasing amounts of weight, the horse is unbeatable. Phar Lap’s tale ends tragically when he dies under mysterious circumstances soon after winning his most important race—the Agua Caliente Handicap in Mexico.
Miracle of the White Stallions
During World War II, the Lipizzan Stallions of the famous Spanish Riding School were in danger of being destroyed. They are rescued by General George Patton and the U.S. Army.
Let It Ride A cab driver learns about a horse race that’s going to be fixed. Succumbing to the temptation, he wins big, then bets it all on a horse named Hot to Trot.
Into the West
Two gypsy boys growing up in poverty in Dublin, Ireland, are led on an adventure into the Connemara by a mysterious white horse.
The Horse Whisperer
This romance movie centers on the relationship between a workaholic mother, an injured daughter, a frightened horse and the “horse whisperer” who touches their lives.
The Horse in the Gray Flannel Suit
A businessman uses a show horse ridden by his daughter as a advertising promotion for a stomach-ailment remedy.
Flicka Starring country singing legend Tim McGraw, this is a story of how a young girl claims a wild horse as her own. Such gallantry proves to the girl’s father (McGraw) that she is capable of one day taking over the family ranch.
Dreamer Cale Crane (played by young Dakota Fanning) catalyzes the rescue and rehabilitation of Sonador, a race horse with a broken leg.
A young girl inherits a cute gray pony named Danny who is discarded by the spoiled daughter of a barn owner. She rehabilitates the pony from an injury and is eventually champion at the big show.
Casey’s Shadow A young boy and his Quarter-Horse-training father raise and train a foal that takes them all the way to the All American Quarter Horse Futurity.
The Black Stallion Based on the Walter Farley children’s book of the same name, The Black Stallion is a film about a young boy who, after surviving a shipwreck, is stranded on an island with a mysterious black horse. The pair form a powerful bond that helps them, once rescued, to race against and beat the fastest horses in the country.
All the Pretty Horses
A coming-of-age tale based on the novel by Cormac McCarthy. Young Texas rancher John Grady Cole, played by Matt Damon, gets more adventure than he can handle when he heads to Mexico after the death of his father.
Want to find out more about horse movies? Here are more resources on horses in film:
Friesians in Film
The Friesian’s magnetic beauty is a perfect fit for the silver screen, and many movie and TV-show directors seek out these horses for their commanding presence. Continue Reading >>
Movie Review: Moondance Alexander
Horse lovers are so desperate for films that accurately portray their lifestyle that they anxiously await the release of every horse flick. Often they are disappointed, as will probably be the case with Moondance Alexander. Continue Reading >>