Best Horse Movies - Ever!
 By mosquito   •   20th Feb 2012   •   6,393 views   •   11 comments
If you’ve been to see war Horse lately, then you’ve been to see a pretty amazing movie. What makes it so special? Well, because it isn’t just about horses or for horsey people. The best horse movies have a human element; one that reflects on an important historical event or period, and the human dramas that go along with it. Of course, the horses are the best part, but to be one of the greatest horse movies of all time, you need to appeal to the non-horsey folks as well. So which movies have really hit the mark? Well, here’s my Top Five – and of course, this is just my choice, so by all means post your favorites too!

Phar Lap (1983)
I get goose pimples every time I watch this movie. Based on the true story of what was arguably the best racehorse of Australia, this story is also an amazing tale of hope and determination in the depression era. there is no better movie illustrating ‘the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat’, mixed with intrigue, scandal, and of course the obligatory heroism of the great horse and all those around him. Phar lap wasn’t well known in the United States, so there are two versions of the movie – the US version being slightly different, and if you can, get your hands on the Australian version. Who played Phar Lap? Towering Inferno, who died in 1999. Fun fact about Phar Lap – his real life groom, Tommy Woodcock, makes a cameo appearance as a trainer.


Seabiscuit (2003)
Another racing movie, this one also appeals to non-horsey types. Absolutely heart-wrenching every step of the way, historically significant in its portrayal of some tough times in America during the Great Depression, and of course – like all great horse movies – beautifully filmed. I loved everything about this movie – Gary Stevens, a real life jockey riding throughout, the ‘head cams’ on the gallops, the illustration of how a racehorse can inspire a whole nation, but most of all the little golden nuggets of training wisdom like this one:

You know, everyone thinks that we found this broken down horse and fixed him, but we didn't. He fixed us, every one of us, and I guess in a way we kinda fixed each other, too.

Lots of horses played Seabiscuit, but Finder is the most celebrated equine actor; he also appeared as Joey in War Horse, and is now a personal favorite of Steven Spielberg!


Casey’s Shadow (1978)
There aren’t many movies about Quarter Horse racing, but this one makes up for that. Based on the short story Ruidoso, this movie follows a young boy who has faith in a cheap, underdeveloped yearling. His faith pays off as we follow the boy, his family, and the beautiful horse as they campaign to win what was at the time, one of the very few races to have $1 million in prize money – the All American Futurity. Like many horse racing movies, this is another rags to riches tale of someone who had faith in a horse that no one else cared about. Here too, there is an impressive performance by the human actors, this time Walter Matthau playing the penniless single dad of three tearaway boys, and clearly needing the guidance and help of a wife. What makes this movie special though is the blend of structured, scripted acting mixed with the natural wonders of horse racing that the director lets shine through. It’s also based on a true story (of Rocket’s Magic), but only very loosely!


Ride a Wild Pony (1975)
So, not a racing movie this time! This one is about an Australian poor farmer’s son who is given a little pony to ride to school. The boy – like so many of us – feels out of place at school and turns to the pony for companionship. Then tragedy strikes, and the pony suddenly disappears. The boy thinks he finds his pony – this time pulling a cart for a handicapped girl, and the film turns to a powerful and emotional handling of how he will find out if the pony really is his, and if it is, what he can do about it. If your non-horsey family can be persuaded to watch a good courtroom drama, then this is a film that will make everyone happy!


The Misfits (1961)
Of course, everyone should see a Marilyn Monroe movie at some point in their lives, and if you are horsey, give this one a try, but brace yourself. This is not a heartwarming tale of racing triumph of the close bond between a rosy cheeked child and their horse. This one is tough to watch, but it will leave a mark on you forever. The film is really about people in hard times trying to find their place and themselves. It’s really a movie about principles, beliefs, and trying t figure out what you believe to be right and standing up for it in the face of opposition. Set in Nevada, it culminates in a roundup of wild horses, which must be one of the most powerful movie scenes ever. The movie gained additional notoriety for the intense conditions for filming – some days the temperature reached 108 degrees, the director was an alcoholic and gambling addict who often slept through filming, and during filming Marilyn herself separated from her husband Arthur Miller (one of the writers, who kept changing the script as they went along). Filming had to stop for a while so Marilyn could spend some time resting in a hospital. Clark Gable did many of his own stunts – including being dragged by a horse. This was the last film finished by both Gable and Monroe, so it’s worth seeing for that if nothing else!

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Good article (: My personal favourite horse movies are Spirit, Black Beauty and Racing Stripes (if that counts)
  Feb 20, 2012  •  5,757 views
Cool article! I will have to go check out these movies sometime :)
  Feb 20, 2012  •  5,533 views
Breezing Hill  
I adored Phar Lap, have that on VHS!! Does that make me old? lol But I cry every time watching that movie, such a great story and amazing horse. And btw that Phar Lap video is in Spanish or something XD

I also love Sylvester ( I know cheesy riding, not the same horse but it is an eventing movie that strikes any heart of taking a no nothing horse into a top eventer.

National Velvet ( and The Horse Whisperer ( are also classics, and I am sorry but if you have not seen either of those you truly did not grow up horse crazy. 'THW' gets me every time, and I also love it because it is based off of Buck Brannamans life.

Another one that really no one knows about is Miracle of the White Stallions ( that follows the almost near extinction of the Lipizzaner horses around WWII. Great movie and great riding. It really shows the struggle and
  Feb 20, 2012  •  5,719 views
Breezing Hill  
And I forgot Black Beauty ( Oh man that end scene with Beauty, Ginger and Merrylegs running around...I cry like a baby. That movie always brings me to tears from the get go.
  Feb 20, 2012  •  5,719 views
No Walkin Farms9  
Awesome article. Ride A Wild Pony, I watched that movie so much when I was younger. I loved it. I've seen Seabiscuit. And I remember liking it. I must get my hands on a copy of the Phar Lap movie. It sounds good. My favorite all time horse movie though is War Horse. It's just so breathtakingly beautiful.
  Feb 20, 2012  •  5,571 views
Valkyrie   MOD 
I'd like to state for the record that Phar Lap was NEW ZEALAND bred, and only Australian raced :P


I think my favourite horse movies of all time would have to be Dreamer and that one about Thowra.
  Feb 21, 2012  •  5,549 views
Bite The Bullet and Hidalgo were not too bad, either.
  Feb 21, 2012  •  5,965 views
Double Spur Ranch  
Great article I am going to go watch all these movies that i haven't seen yet for some reason :) Well besides War Horse, Seabiscut, and Casey's Shadow. Also watch Ruffian, but if you don't like super sad endings don't watch it cause it made me cry :(. Also Hidalgo is a good one. The Colt from the hallmark series is good no horse dies but has a sad ending. Also Shergar is a good movie about a Racing stallion in Europe that get's kidnapped and a teenage boy tries to save him. Reall good movies that I like that I wanted to add to this :)
  Feb 21, 2012  •  5,552 views
It's funny, I have read and/or watched 4 out of 5 of these stories.
  Feb 22, 2012  •  5,577 views
Horse Dreamer  
Hmmm nice! I like it. )
  Feb 22, 2012  •  5,548 views
I haven't seen any of these yet. xD
  Feb 23, 2012  •  5,908 views
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