Best Horse Movies of All Time

Horses are stunning animals that are loved by many people. So, it’s not surprising that they attract attention when they feature in movies. We love to see what happens to horse characters, and their friends, on the big screen.

Over the years, hundreds of movies have been made that feature horses and everyone has their own favourites. So, we might not feature everyone’s favourite movies with horses in them, but we have chosen ten that cover a broad range of stories and genres. We think they represent the best that horse-based movies have to offer.

Key points
  • War Horse is the story of Joey the horse and his life during World War I.
  • Seabiscuit is the true story of a famous racehorse during the Great Depression in the United States.
  • National Velvet was an early outing for one of the most famous actresses of all time, Elizabeth Taylor.

War Horse

There is no doubt that War Horse is one of the best horse movies of all time. Based on a novel by Michael Morpurgo, the story features a thoroughbred horse by the name of Joey, from the day he is born. Joey’s life is played out against the backdrop of World War I after the British Army buys him.

The movie, which followed both the book and the stage production, has received mostly good reviews. It’s an inspiring story that is directed by Stephen Spielberg and in which top actors like David Thewlis and Emily Watson bring the characters to life.

Phar Lap

The engaging 1983 movie Phar Lap was made in New Zealand and is based on a real-life racehorse from that country. Unfortunately, the life of this famous horse ended in tragedy. The movie starts at the time of Phar Lap’s mysterious death and goes on to tell us how the horse’s life reached that point.

It shows how he went from being a longshot to being a winner. It also suggests that he died at the hands of gamblers. The movie, based on Michael Wilkinson’s novel, is a perennial favourite with horse racing fans.

Entegra Horse Arena

Lean on Pete

When you consider the top horse movies of all time, you might not immediately think of Lean on Pete. However, we think that this lesser-known British movie from 2017 is a bit of a gem. It tells the story of an orphan boy who rescues his equine friend from slaughter and goes on the run in America.

Charlie Plummer, who plays the lead human character, Charley, won the Marcello Mastroianni Award for Best Young Actor or Actress at the 74th Venice International Film Festival when the film was screened there. This is little wonder given that his performance as a young boy protecting his friend shines in a movie that is well worth watching.

Seabiscuit

We could not look at the best horse movies ever without mentioning Seabiscuit. The 2003 big-screen outing took the world by storm and was nominated for seven Oscars. It features the story of the famous racehorse Seabiscuit that entertained the US during the American Great Depression. Seabiscuit triumphed in a race against War Admiral for which he was the underdog.

He became the top money-winning horse of the time and was an inspiration to people who saw him as a symbol of hope. The audiences who got to know Seabiscuit through the movie have also been inspired by his equine spirit.

The Horse Whisperer

This 1998 movie stars one of the biggest names in the industry, Robert Redford. He plays the Horse Whisperer of the title, Tom Booker. Single mother Annie Maclean (Kristen Scott Thomas) hires Booker to help her daughter Grace. The teenager is recovering from a riding accident in which she and her horse were seriously injured and her friend died, along with her horse.

The movie shows us how Booker helps Grace and Pilgrim the horse recover while developing feelings for Annie. This may be a story that is a bit corny for some but the reviews are good and the acting is impressive.

National Velvet

National Velvet may have been released way back in 1944 but it’s still a treat to watch for any horse fan. Future Hollywood legend Elizabeth Taylor stars as a young girl, Velvet Brown, alongside fellow young actor Mickey Rooney and of course the equine star of the film as Velvet’s horse Pie. The film culminates in Velvet achieving her ambition of riding Pie in the Grand National. After the race, she is disqualified as she is a girl, and she goes on to live a normal life alongside Pie.

A sequel, International Velvet, was released in 1978. It starred Tatum O’Neal as Sarah, Velvet Brown’s niece who arrives in England to stay with her aunt and becomes a good rider. She ends up riding for Britain at the Olympic Three Day Event. This movie may be okay to watch but it’s nowhere near the same standard as the 1944 classic.

Champions

Champions is another movie that features the Grand National. It tells the true story of Bob Champion who won the race after a fight against cancer. The story is made all the more remarkable by the fact that Champion’s horse in the race was Aldaniti. The equine hero had also come back against the odds after sustaining a serious injury.

This may not be the easiest movie to watch, due to Champion’s difficult battle, but it’s certainly inspiring. Even more so given the fact that Champion is still around and he has set up the Bob Champion Cancer Trust which helps to fund research into the often deadly disease.

The Mustang

The Mustang is definitely not what you would call a fun film to watch but the story it tells is incredible. It takes us through the story of a convict, played by Matthias Schoenaerts, who takes part in a rehabilitation program that involves training wild horses. Gradually, he grows close to his wild mustang which helps him to build other relationships.

The movie is based on a real program that exists in America and it shows us how important horses can be in their relationships with humans. This 2019 French-Belgian movie, in English, is not easy to watch but is more than worthwhile persevering with.

Hidalgo

A mustang also features in the movie Hidalgo. It takes us on the epic journey of a cowboy and his horse as they race against Bedouins in the Arabian Desert. This 2004 movie is based on the legend of Frank Hopkins and his mustang Hidalgo and it carries us away on the tide of their incredible story.

Despite starring big names like Omar Sharif and Viggo Mortensen, Hidalgo was not a box office success and reviews were mixed. However, we think there is plenty to love about this movie, not least the gorgeous horse that plays the title character.

The Derby Stallion

This movie may not be a classic but it’s still a great story and a good watch for fans of horses and Zac Efron alike. The story follows the adventures of Patrick McCardle, a teenager who befriends an old-time trainer of horses and finds out that he has a talent for riding. This discovery takes Patrick away from the path of playing baseball that his father has forced him on and into racing in a derby.

Overall, the theme of the movie is that we should always take our own path. It shows that horses can help to give us the strength and impetus to do this.

We have shown you ten of the best horse movies of all time. Hopefully, at least one of them is on your list as well. If not, you should give them a try and see what you are missing.

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