Written by: Myles Shane
Every horse lover has a favourite horse movie. From the classics such as Black Beauty and National Velvet to the more recent War Horse and Secretariat, here are 20 beloved films starring talented equines. Why not check out (or rediscover) some of them during the long winter nights ahead?
1. Seabiscuit (2003) – Tobey Maguire, Jeff Bridges and Elizabeth Banks headline this Academy Award nominated film which unravels the tale of an undersized depression era racehorse whose victories lifted not only the spirits of its team, but also those of its nation.
2. War Horse (2011) – Academy Award winner Stephen Spielberg directs this WW1 period piece about a young Albert, who enlists to serve in the army after his cherished horse was sold to the cavalry. Albert’s enthusiastic journey took him out of England and to the front lines of a gruesome unrelenting war in search of his beloved horse.
3. The Horse Whisperer (1998) – The film was directed by and stars Hollywood heavyweight Robert Redford, as an adroit trainer with an exceptional gift for understanding horses. He is hired to help nurse back to health a teenager girl and her horse who have been in a terrible accident. This is Scarlett Johansson’s first career role and she is absolutely brilliant.
4. The Black Stallion (1979) – This compelling screen drama stars screen legend Mickey Rooney. The film spins the tale of Alec who befriends a wild black Arabian horse while traveling aboard a steamship. When a tragic accident destroys the ship, Alec frees the horse and they escape to a close-by island where they form an uncommon friendship. Once rescued, they return to America where Alec and former jockey Henry work to train the horse which Alec names “The Black,” for a race.
5. Black Beauty (1971) – There have been five movie adaptations of the 1877 novel by Anna Sewell, which tells the tale of Black Beauty’s early days as a happy-go-lucky colt, to his tough life towing Hackney cabs in London, to his joyful retirement, all from the horse’s perspective. Sewell wrote the book to raise awareness about animal welfare. The novel sold 50 million copies all over the world. The 1994 film version stars Alan Cumming as the voice of Black Beauty.
6. National Velvet (1944) – Liz Taylor, as Velvet Brown, lives out her dream – she wins a horse in a lottery and transforms him into a champion. Spoiler Alert: young Velvet disguises herself as a boy.
7. Secretariat (2010) – A Disney film starring John Malkovich that recounts the life of the thoroughbred race horse Secretariat, winner of the Triple Crown in 1973.
8. Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron (2002) – An animated western that follows the adventures of a young Kiger Mustang stallion during the 19th century American west.
9. Hidalgo (2004) – Viggo Mortensen portrays fabled wild west rider Frank T. Hopkins in a 3,000-mile race for survival in the Arabian Desert.
10. Virginia’s Run (2002) – A teenage girl attempts to deal with the untimely tragic death of her mother in a horse-riding accident while nurturing the foal of her mother’s horse. The film stars Gabriel Byrne.
11. The Red Pony (1949) – Character actor Robert Mitchum headlines The Red Pony which is based on John Steinbeck’s legendary novel. The film reveals the story of a young boy and his troubled family on a working ranch. The child is given a pony, which teaches him about responsibility and loss in a very personal way.
12. Ruffian (2007) – Academy Award nominee Sam Shepard stars in the amazing real life story of the greatest filly racehorse of all time.
13. Francis the Talking Mule (1950) – Mickey Rooney stars in this classic film about the adventures of a talking army mule and the soldier who winds up looking like an idiot because of him.
14. Dreamer: Inspired by a True Story (2005) – Cale Crane organizes the rescue and recovery of Sonador, a race horse with a broken leg.
15. The Man From Snowy River (1982) – Screen idol Kirk Douglas stars in this Australian drama based in the 1880s where young Jim Craig’s father dies and Jim accepts a job at the Harrison cattle ranch where he is left with no choice but to become an adult.
16. Flicka (2006) – Young Katy declares a wild horse as her own in an attempt to show her father that she is qualified to one day take over the family ranch.
17. Wild Hearts Can’t Be Broken (1991) – Thrilled by a performance she sees at a fair, Sonora tries to land a spot as a daredevil who rides horses off of high dives.
18. Second Chances (1998) – After a car accident, a girl regains the strength to conquer her injuries through her bond with a horse.
19. Let It Ride (1989) – This eighties romp stars Richard Dreyfuss as a loser cabby who gets a tip on a horse and wins big but afterwards becomes addicted to gambling.
20. Casey’s Shadow (1978) – The great Walter Matthau headlines this flick about Casey, a young boy in a family that trains racehorses. Casey’s friend, a foal they call “Casey’s Shadow,” appears to be a loser, but triumphs as a champion under Casey’s loving guidance.