Horses have always been an inspiration for many artists. We can find them in paintings, in poems or novels and of course, on-screen. Movies about horses are mostly made for the entire family and very often speak about the beautiful connection between a human and this noble animal.
There have been a few classics that need to be mentioned, unforgettable stories about brave mustangs, stallions and other breeds that were always there when needed. From westerns, through romantic stories and adventures to family dramas, movies about horses give is two hours of excitement and emotions and leave is with a full heart. This is the list of the twenty best horse movies of all time.
Dream Horse (2020)
When you find Toni Collette on the list of a movie cast, you can almost always be sure that you are up for a good movie. And you wouldn’t be wrong this time, too. This movie is inspired by a true story about Dream Alliance, an unusual racehorse bred by the bartender Jan Vokes. Jan lives in a small Welsh town and has no particular experience with horses and even less money.
She manages to convince her neighbours to give some money to help raise Dream so he can compete one day with other stellar horses. It will all be worth it when Dream makes it to the Welsh Grand National where he proves himself a great champion. This is a heartwarming story of friendship and the importance of having good people around you and determination to achieve something that you maybe weren’t expected to at first.
This is a biographical western drama about the famous American distance rider Frank Hopkins and his mustang Hidalgo. It is the story of Hopkins’ racing Hidalgo in 1891 Arabia against Bedouins and their pure-blooded Arabian horses. It is a difficult race through the desert where most riders often fatally forfeit.
Hopkins has to prove himself among the strangers in a foreign country, a country so much different from his own and fight against prejudice, firstly against his non-thoroughbred horse. He will also have to accept the fact that his competitors would do anything to win the race.
War Horse (2011)
Steven Spielberg hasn’t got a bad movie on his resume. Maybe not for everyone’s tastes, but we must give him credit for his talent and creativity. And when Richard Curtis writes the script, we know we are going to watch something really good. And the cast is also remarkable, including Tom Hiddleston, Peter Mullan, Emily Watson and many more brilliant British actors,
It is set before and during World War I and it tells the story of a young boy named Albert who raises Joey, a bay Irish Hunter as he is bought by the British Army. He will lead him throughout Europe while he encounters numerous owners and at the same time face the tragedies the war brings to all of them.
Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron (2002)
This beautiful animated Western movie follows Spirit, a glorious mustang who is captured during the American Indian wars and eventually freed by a Native American boy named Little Creek. He wants to take him back to the Lakota village and after returning, Little Creek attempts to tame him.
Even though the boy is kind and attentive, Spirit rejects help, not being able to trust humans anymore. When Little Creek ties him to Rain, Spirit falls in love with her after some time but soon has to face another capturing and destiny even harsher than the one before. When Little Creek finds out what happened, he promises to himself to bring Spirit back-
Another biographical drama starring Diane Lane and John Malkovich, this movie tells the story of Penny Chenery, a devoted housewife and mother who accepts her father’s wish and takes over his Meadow Stables in Virginia.
Even though she has almost no knowledge of raising and breeding horses, she manages to show her talent, tenacity and strength in the predominantly male business. With some help from veteran trainer Lucien Laurin, she eventually succeeds in fostering the first Triple crown winner in twenty-five years.
Black Beauty (1994)
This adventure drama is told from the horse’s point of view, being described as an autobiographical story with Alan Cummings as the voice of Black Beauty. It is a beautiful black stallion that recalls his life from birth and through a nice and careless life to days full of hardships after achieving maturity.
He will go from one owner to another, and meet many good and bad people until he finally finds freedom and happiness at old age with a man who promises he will never sell him to anyone.
The Horse Whisperer (1998)
This big hit directed by Robert Redford is a western drama that tells the story of talented horse trainer Tom Booker, played by Redford himself. He has the natural ability to understand horses and now gets a job helping a troubled and injured Grace after she and her horse were hit by a truck.
Grace is accompanied by her mother Annie who has heard a lot about Booker and hopes he will heal both Grace and her horse. They decide to stay on his Montana ranch where Grace and Pilgrim slowly begin to feel better and the connection between Annie and Tom starts getting more and more serious. But when Annie’s ex-husband shows up at the ranch, she will have to decide what is more important, her devotion to Tom or love for her family.
Pale Rider (1985)
This Clint Eastwood movie is a classic western set in a gold mining camp in California which falls under siege by a neighbouring landowner. The title of the movie refers to the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, while the pale horse’s ghost rider represents Death.
It is a metaphor that is pretty well represented throughout the entire movie. Clint Eastwood is a preacher and the ghost rider who travels to the neighbouring village in order to try and convince the landowner to stop his attacks on the miners.
Dark Horse (1992)
This is a family drama that focuses on a teenage girl Allison Mills who has recently lost her mother. She is the new girl in town who befriends the wrong crowd and gets into trouble. She is sentenced to community service at a local stable.
She is happy there and enjoys spending time with the animals until one day she gets in a car accident with her favourite horse Jet. They both suffer great injuries and Allison ends up in a wheelchair. It is a difficult situation and a lot to take in for a young girl, but the love and devotion of her horse are going to help her heal. And their mutual understanding and help will also be the reason for Jet’s complete recovery.
Phar Lap (1983)
This is another true story inspired by the life of the legendary Australian racehorse named Phar Lap. It is a well-known story even today due to his mysterious death, but many great accomplishments during his lifetime. The movie begins at the end and we go back and learn about Lap’s background.
Although without a pedigree, he is purchased by the strong-willed trainer Harry Telford who believes in his greatness. Thanks to the love of another human, a stableboy Tommy Woodcock, Phar Lap becomes one of the best racehorses ever, a thorn in the eye for many professional gamblers. During one of his races, Lap collapses and dies and his death remains yet unsolved.
The Man From Snowy River (1982)
This adventure drama is set in the Australian mountains where we meet Jim Craig who has lived for 18 years on his father’s farm. When his father dies he is forced to go to the low lands to earn enough money to be able to keep the farm. He meets two men, estranged twin brothers who start causing him problems in many ways.
Spur and Harrison don’t talk to each other but will soon be reunited through Jim’s problems. One was his father’s best friend and the other is the father of the girl Jim is in love with. Their 20-year-old feud will culminate when Jim is accused of letting a prize stallion lose. Jim and his fiancee are going to find themselves in the middle of it all.
All the Pretty Horses (2000)
Based on the novel by one of the American most praised authors, Cormac McCarthy, this movie was directed by Billy Bob Thornton who gathered a stellar cast led by Matt Damon and Penelope Cruz. Unfortunately, it didn’t receive a very positive response from the critics, but the audience loved it and it still remains one of the most famous movies that include horses.
Two young Texas riders in search of experience travel to 1940s Mexico. They are not used to all the things they are going to find there, a mysterious and beautiful, but cruel and chaotic land where it is not unusual to find death on every corner.
Lean On Pete (2017)
This movie follows the story of a fifteen-year-old Charley Thompson who wants stability in his life, a home, food on the table and friends he is not going to change every few months. He is the son of a single father who works in warehouses across the Pacific Northwest.
It is difficult to provide a stable life for his own son since their whereabouts are always changing.
Finally, they move to Oregon with the wish to start a new life and have a fresh start. Charlie accepts a summer job from a washed-up horse trainer and befriends a horse named Lean on Pete.
One of the most famous and unforgettable movies about horses, based on a true story during the Depression era. Everyone is struggling and trying to get by as good as possible and this includes car makes Charles Howard as well. He lives with his second wife and dreams of entering the horse races.
He joins a group of underdogs that include horse trainer Tom Smith who has a feeling for noticing a good horse, Seabiscuit, an unusual horse who Tom chooses for Charlie, certain that he is ready for the win and the jockey Johnny “Red” Pollard. This group of outcasts will join forces and try to win against all odds.
The Black Stallion (1979)
One of the classics, this adventure drama tells the story of a young boy Alec who is travelling with his father and on one of these travels, he becomes fascinated by a wonderful Arabian stallion. He is sailing with the same ship as Alec and soon they find themselves struggling for survival.
Their ship sinks and they are the only survivors, now stranded on a desert island. They form a tight friendship and after being rescued, they meet a horse trainer Henry Deeley helps them enter races against the world’s fastest horses.
National Velvet (1944)
Mi Taylor is a traveller who has been given “all the roads in the Kingdom” to travel. One of these roads that is also described in his father’s journal leads him to a quiet English house in the countryside where he meets the Brown family.
Their youngest daughter Velvet loves horses and wins the rebellious steed Pie in a town lottery. Mi is interested in training the horse for the country’s greatest racing event, the Grand National. This is another classic among movies about horses.
This movie is inspired by a true story and deals with a man’s trust in an animal and its recovery. Ben Crane and his daughter Cale adopt a mare and save it from being sacrificed by her owner. Ben believes that she deserves another chance, but she will also help Ben and his daughter re-establish their lost familiar bond.
The mare might have the opportunity to reenter the racecourse despite her broken leg, with the help of Cale, Ben and his father Pop. This is a movie about second chances and the strong bond that exists between a man and an animal.
This is a coming-of-age story about a 16-year-old stubborn Katy who wants to work on her family’s horse ranch. She lives in the mountains and her father wishes her to finish boarding school before she dedicates her life to horses. One day Katy finds a lonely mustang in the hills near her ranch.
She decides to tame it and prove to her father that she is more than capable of running the ranch. But one tragedy will shatter everything they believed in and it will take a lot of love and support from this family to restore hope.
The Mustang (2019)
This French-Belgian movie differs a lot from the ones on the list, being the only one that is dark and gloomy and talks about horses from a different perspective. But in the end, it also conveys a powerful message about the connection between people and animals.
Roman is a convict who needs to participate in a rehabilitation programme that consists of training wild mustang horses. At first, he has a hard time connecting with these animals and his fellow inmates but slowly he begins to deal with the problems from his past as he builds a strong relationship with an especially independent horse.
Django Unchained (2012)
This excellent drama is definitely not a movie about horses but they are essential for its story and therefore we can give ourselves some freedom and put it on the list. It is masterfully directed by Quentin Tarantino and with a brilliant cast including Jamie Fox, Leonardo di Caprio and Christoph Waltz.
The movie talks about a bounty hunter named King Schultz who seeks the help of a slave Django. After Django helps him the two remain together in order to find Django’s wife Broomhilda. When they find out where she was taken, Django and Schultz come up with a plan for how to get close to the owner of the Mississippi based plantation.
The story is set in the middle of the 1880s in the American deep south where horses were the most useful vehicle. We don’t see Django without his horse who takes him to all the places he wants to find and runs and hides with him.