35 Horse Movies to Add to Your Watch List, Stat
There is nothing better than a good horse flick. What better way to end a day than to curl up with a bowl of popcorn and point out all the inaccuracies, much to the chagrin of our family? (Come on, you know you are guilty of this!)
Despite Hollywood’s liberties, we all have our favorite horse films. If you’re looking for a good movie with heart-warming equine stars, check out this list of 35 must-watch horse movies. We’ll try to leave the commentary regarding accuracy to you.
Year released: 1994
Directed by: Caroline Thompson
Starring: Docs Keepin Time (horse),Sean Bean, David Thewlis, Alan Cumming
Why You Must Watch Black Beauty
The 1994 release of “Black Beauty” is a beautiful movie. Based on Anna Sewell’s novel that forever changed the way people viewed animals and brought to light animal rights and humane treatment, it’s truly a must see.
The story follows Black Beauty as he goes through a series of not-so-nice homes in England during the 1870s.
The Black Stallion
Year released: 1979
Directed by: Carroll Ballard
Starring: Cass-Ole (horse), Kelly Reno, Mickey Rooney
Why You Must Watch The Black Stallion
If you’re looking for a horse flick with action and adventure, “The Black Stallion” from 1979 is a top choice. Based on Walter Farley’s incredible novel, the movie follows the adventures of Alec and The Black, a high-spirited black Arabian stallion he befriends when the ship they were both on goes down, leaving them stranded on desert island.
The two become racing legends in this entertaining film. What’s not to love?
Wild Hearts Can’t Be Broken
Year released: 1991
Directed by: Steve Miner
Starring: Gabrielle Anwar, Michael Schoeffling, Cliff Robertson
Why You Must Watch Wild Hearts Can’t Be Broken
This is one of those movies you can watch over and over again. “Wild Hearts Can’t Be Broken” is based on the true story of Sonora Webster, an orphan from Georgia who became one of the famous diving girls in Atlantic City, where girls would dive off a 40-foot-tall tower into a tank of water on a horse.
It will make you laugh and cry, and, yes, it will leave you inspired.
The Man From Snowy River
Year released: 1982
Directed by: George Miller
Starring: Tom Burlinson, Kirk Douglas, Terence Donovan, Sigrid Thornton
Why You Must Watch The Man From Snowy River
“The Man From Snowy River” is a great choice if you are looking for a date-night flick. It has everything: action, romance, mystery and, of course, lots of beautiful horses.
Jim Craig is an 18-year-old from the mountains of Australia looking to earn money as well as prove he is a man. He falls for the daughter of a wealthy cattleman and finds himself in the middle of a decades-old feud involving a prized stallion and, what else, a woman.
Return to Snowy River
Year released: 1988
Directed by: Geoff Burrowes
Starring: Denny (horse), Tom Burlinson, Sigrid Thornton, Brian Dennehy
Why You Must Watch Return to Snowy River
Although Kirk Douglas is replaced by Brian Dennehy in this sequel to “The Man From Snowy River,” it takes nothing away from the film. Jim Craig returns after a long absence to find Jessica is being courted by a wealthy gentleman her father approves of.
Once again, Jim must prove he has a right to his land and to love whom he wishes. The real star of this movie is Denny, Jim Craig’s horse. Just be sure to have the tissues handy for this one.
The Horse Whisperer
Year released: 1998
Directed by: Robert Redford
Starring: High Tower, Cash, Kentucky Pet and Maverick (horses), Robert Redford, Kristin Scott Thomas, Sam Neill, Scarlett Johansson
Why You Must Watch The Horse Whisperer
With an all-star cast, including phenomenal equine acting, “The Horse Whisperer” is one of those films that you just have to see.
Definitely a tear-jerker, the story revolves around the relationship of teenager Grace MacLean and her horse, Pilgrim, after a nightmarish accident leaves them with scars, both visible and invisible.
Year released: 1961
Directed by: James B Clark
Starring: David Ladd, Arthur O’Connell, Pam Smith, Anne Seymour
Why You Must Watch Misty
A wonderful, family-friendly movie for all ages, “Misty” is based on Marguerite Henry’s beloved children’s classic, “Misty of Chincoteague, which is based on the real-life Misty, a wild, Chincoteague pony who shares a special relationship with two orphan children.
While she doesn’t play herself, the real Misty is in some of the scenes of the movie.
The Horse in the Gray Flannel Suit
Year released: 1968
Directed by: Norman Tokar
Starring: Albarado (horse), Dean Jones, Diane Baker, Lloyd Bochner
Why You Must Watch The Horse in the Gray Flannel Suit
If it has Dean Jones in it, it must be good! These old classic films are just fun to watch, and “The Horse in the Gray Flannel Suit” is no exception. Fredrick Bolton needs to impress his boss with a great advertising gimmick for a new stomach pill (Aspercel). His daughter wants a horse, which he cannot afford.
So, the clever man decides to sell his boss on the idea of a horse named Aspercel, which will get its name in the papers … as long as his daughter can win their jumping competitions!
Year released: 1944
Directed by: Clarence Brown
Starring: King Charles (Horse), Elizabeth Taylor, Mickey Rooney, Donald Crisp, Anne Revere
Why You Must Watch National Velvet
Another classic horse film, “National Velvet” is timeless. It speaks to any child that has wished and hoped for a horse.
Young Velvet is a horse crazy girl that wins Pie, a high-spirited horse, in a lottery. Together with Mi Taylor, they work to train Pie to compete in the Grand National Steeplechase in England.
Year released: 2004
Directed by: Joe Johnston
Starring: T.J. (horse), Viggo Mortensen, Omar Sharif, Zuleikha Robinson
Why You Must Watch Hidalgo
“Hidalgo” is an action-packed adventure based on the legend of Hidalgo, a paint horse that was said to have won more long-distance races than any other.
Owned by Frank T. Hopkins, a somewhat eccentric American, the two are invited to enter the Ocean of Fire, a 3,000-mile race across the Arabian desert that few survive.
Year released: 2011
Directed by: Steven Spielberg
Starring: Finder's Key (horse), Jeremy Irvine, Emily Watson, David Thewlis, Benedict Cumberbatch
Why You Must Watch War Horse
With over 15 award wins and 77 nominations, “War Horse” is a can’t miss, gripping tale of a horse and his boy. Albert Narracott enlists after his favorite horse, Joey, is sold to the cavalry during World War I.
While injured, Albert learns that a horse was found in no man's land. Could it be Joey?
My Friend Flicka
Year released: 1943
Directed by: Harold D. Schuster
Starring: Roddy McDowall, Preston Foster, Rita Johnson, James Bell
Why You Must Watch My Friend Flicka
A coming-of-age story about a boy who never seems to do anything right and his beloved filly, “My Friend Flicka” is a classic that never goes out of style.
While a remake was done in 2006 (titled “Flicka”), it can’t compare to the original, which is much closer to the book written by Mary O’Hara.
Year released: 2010
Directed by: Randall Wallace
Starring: Trolley Boy (horse), Diane Lane, John Malkovich, Margo Martindale
Why You Must Watch Secretariat
Disney’s “Secretariat” has everything you could want from a horse movie: good acting, beautiful horses and a good plot. Based on true events, the movie follows Penny Chenery as she takes over her father’s race horse farm.
Even though she doesn’t know much about racing, she fights to take her spot in the male-dominated sport and produces a champion while doing so.
Year released: 2003
Directed by: Gary Ross
Starring: Finder's Key (horse), Tobey Maguire, Jeff Bridges, Elizabeth Banks
Why You Must Watch Seabiscuit
“Our horse is too small; our jockey is too big!” In this classic underdog tale based on a true story, Charles Howard, after suffering personal loss as well as the grips of The Great Depression, takes on Seabiscuit, a supposedly broken-down race horse that no one thinks can win.
With a too-big jockey, the horse manages to capture national attention during a time when people needed hope the most.
Justin Morgan Had a Horse
Year released: 1972
Directed by: Hollingsworth Morse
Starring: Don Murray, R.G. Armstrong, Whit Bissell, Gary Crosby
Why You Must Watch Justin Morgan Had a Horse
If you are an equestrian, you have probably seen this movie. Disney’s “Justin Morgan Had a Horse” is the romanticized legend of how the Morgan breed came to be.
While you definitely can’t give them points for accuracy, the tale is nonetheless entertaining and does show the versatility of the Morgan breed. (Plus, baby Figure is just too cute!)
Year released: 1999
Directed by: Dennis C. Lewiston
Starring: Alan Barker, Billy Boyle, Stephen Brennan, Gary Cady
Why You Must Watch Shergar
Shergar was a famous Thoroughbred racehorse in Ireland that was kidnapped, and the true story remains an unsolved mystery. While we may never know who or why he was kidnapped, the movie places the blame on the Irish Republican Army looking for a ransom reward.
A runaway stable boy finds the stallion, who has escaped his captors. Will it end happily for both of them? It’s a great watch for those who like mysteries and action alike.
Year released: 1983
Directed by: Simon Wincer
Starring: Towering Inferno (horse),Tom Burlinson, Judy Morris, Martin Vaughan
Why You Must Watch Phar Lap
If you didn’t get enough of Tom Burlinson in the “Snowy River” movies (no such thing as too much Burlinson!), then you need to watch “Phar Lap.” Phar Lap’s story is similar to Seabiscuit’s, a rag-to-riches story about a horse that steals Australian racing fan’s hearts.
However, Phar Lap’s life ends in a far more tragic and mysterious manner. Grab the tissues with your popcorn for this one.
Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron
Year released: 2002
Directed by: Kelly Asbury and Lorna Cook
Starring: Matt Damon, James Cromwell, Daniel Studi, Chopper Bernet
Why You Must Watch Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron
The only animated film on this list is “Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron.” Spirit, based on a real Kiger Mustang stallion, Donner, is captured and tamed by humans, though he forever longs for freedom and to return to his herd.
It’s a great movie for the entire family to watch and may even teach kids a bit about respecting wild horses.
The Young Black Stallion
Year released: 2003
Directed by: Simon Wincer
Starring: Biana Tamimi, Richard Romanus, Patrick Elyas
Why You Must Watch The Young Black Stallion
Based loosely on Walter Farley’s original books (it’s Disney, what do you expect?), this is a great action movie that the whole family can watch.
Young Neera finds a beautiful black colt she names Shetan (Devil) while separated from her father. The movie follows her adventures with the horse, including racing to help save her grandfather’s breeding operation.
Walk. Ride. Rodeo.
Year released: 2019
Directed by: Conor Allyn
Starring: Spencer Locke, Missi Pyle, Bailey Chase, Alyvia Alyn Lind
Why You Must Watch Walk. Ride. Rodeo.
“Walk.Ride.Rodeo.” is an uplifting tale about never giving up and, most importantly, getting back into the saddle. It’s based on the true story of Amberley Snyder who was a nationally ranked barrel racer until a car accident left her paralyzed from the waist down.
Determined to ride again, she does whatever it takes to make her dreams come true.
Harry & Snowman
Year released: 2015
Directed by: Ron Davis
Starring: Snowman (horse),Harry DeLeyer, Harriet DeLeyer, Andre DeLeyer
Why You Must Watch Harry & Snowman
While “Harry & Snowman” is technically a documentary, it’s so good you will feel like you are watching a movie.
It stars the real people surrounding the incredible true story of Snowman, a plow horse bought by Harry DeLeyer for $80 who goes on to win the Triple Crown series of show jumping, making it an incredible feel-good tale you won’t forget.
Ride Like a Girl
Year released: 2019
Directed by: Rachel Griffiths
Starring: Teresa Palmer, Sam Neill, Brooke Satchwell
Why You Must Watch Ride Like a Girl
Are you looking for a true story that’s full of empowerment? Then “Ride Like a Girl” is definitely a good choice.
The movie follows Michelle Payne, who becomes the first woman jockey to win the Melbourne Cup. This true story is a great one for inspiring your kids to never give up on their dreams.
The Electric Horseman
Year released: 1979
Directed by: Sydney Pollack
Starring: Let’s Merge (Horse), Robert Redford, Jane Fonda, Valerie Perrine, Willie Nelson
Why You Must Watch The Electric Horseman
There are some movies from childhood you remember long after you’ve grown up, and “The Electric Horseman” is one of them. If you haven’t seen it, you are missing out.
Sonny Steele is a washed-up rodeo star who steals his old horse, Rising Star, after finding out he is going to be mistreated on the set of a commercial. It’s a feel-good story that the whole family will enjoy.
The Derby Stallion
Year released: 2005
Directed by: Craig Clyde
Starring: Charles Black, Sarah Blackman, Zac Efron
Why You Must Watch The Derby Stallion
This movie is for all the tweens — and maybe slightly older folk — who love Zac Efron. “The Derby Stallion” is a common tale about a former trainer-turned-surly drunk that sees a bit of himself in a young man he meets by chance.
The young man, Patrick McCardle, ends up asking the trainer, Houston Jones, to train him to steeplechase.
Miracle of the White Stallions
Year released: 1963
Directed by: Arthur HIller
Starring: Robert Taylor, Lilli Palmer, Curd Jurgens, Eddie Albert, John Larch
Why You Must Watch Miracle of the White Stallions
Another Disney film based on a historical event, the “Miracle of the White Stallions” follows General Patton as he helps Colonel Alois Podhasjsky save the prized Lipizzaner stallions during World War II in Austria.
Although, again, Disney doesn’t get all their facts straight, it’s a great story with beautiful horses and sets.
Year released: 1984
Directed by: John Irvin
Starring: John Hurt, Gregory Jones, Mick Dillon, Ann Bell
Why You Must Watch Champions
"Champions" is based on the true story of Bob Champion, a British steeplechase jockey in the 1970s. He was tragically diagnosed with cancer at the height of his career, but did he quit? Of course not. If he had, there wouldn't be a movie.
Instead, he fought cancer and won, along with winning the 1981 Grand National steeplechase. Most horse movies are inspiring, feel-good films, but this one is especially good because it's a true story.
The real Bob Champion also is still alive today.
Year released: 2005
Directed by: John Gatins
Starring: Kurt Russell, Dakota Fanning, Oded Fehr, Kris Kristofferson
Why You Must Watch Dreamer
Now here's a horse movie for '90s babies who love the nostalgia of early 2000s family films. When a racehorse is badly injured, Ben Crane and his daughter Cale adopt it. Despite the horse's broken leg, the family slowly begins training her for a possible return to the racetrack.
The fantastic cast of "Dreamer" makes it a must-watch movie, as long as you don't mind bawling your eyes out at the end.
All Roads Lead Home
Year released: 2008
Directed by: Dennis Fallon
Starring: Peter Coyote, Jason London, Vivien Cardone, Peter Boyle
Why You Must Watch All Roads Lead Home
Many of the best stories begin with tragedy. In "All Roads Lead Home," a 12-year-old girl's mother is killed in a freak car accident.
Her father isn't quite sure how to raise a young girl all on his own, and her maternal grandfather struggles to connect with her since she bears such a strong resemblance to her mother.
In the end, it's a puppy and a horse that help the broken family find their way back to each other.
Year released: 1999
Directed by: Greg Beeman
Starring: Joey Lawrence, Andrew Lawrence, Susan Walters
Why You Must Watch Horse Sense
A classic Disney family film, "Horse Sense" has a pretty predictable storyline. A spoiled boy named Michael Woods invites his cousin Tommy to visit him in Los Angeles. Once Tommy arrives, however, Michael ignores Tommy and ditches him to go spend time with his snobby girlfriend. After a nightmare visit, Tommy heads home to the country.
Michael's parents, disappointed in their son's rude behavior, send him to Tommy's farm to work for free for a month. When he gets there, he learns the family may soon lose the farm.
Can they save it? It's Disney, so you already know the answer.
Year released: 2002
Directed by: Peter Markle
Starring: Gabriel Byrne, Lindze Letherman, Rachel Skarsten, Joanne Whalley
Why You Must Watch Virginia's Run
Horseback riding is a dangerous sport. When Canadian lobster fisher Ford Lofton's wife dies from falling off a horse named Twister, his relationship with horses is fragmented. His daughters, however, adore them, especially Twister's foal, Stormy. After Stormy is sold, the girls are devastated.
Ford pulls some strings to reunite them with their beloved horse, and one of them follows in her mother's footsteps and learns to race.
Of course, there's plenty of drama along the way.
Something to Talk About
Year released: 1995
Directed by: Lasse Hallström
Starring: Julia Roberts, Dennis Quaid
Why You Must Watch Something to Talk About
"Something to Talk About" breaks the mold of the typical horse movie. The plot revolves more around romance, betrayal and reconciliation than on horses, but they're still a central part of the plot. The story tells the tale of Grace Bichon, a woman who manages her father's riding stable.
After learning that her husband has had an affair, she goes to stay with her sister to decide what to do next. Along the way, she begins questioning her own obedient, predictable ways, comes into her own and begins living the life she was meant to live.
It's a way better reaction than burning your cheating husband's X-Box, honestly.
Year released: 1985
Directed by: Richard Donner
Starring: Matthew Broderick, Rutger Hauer, Michelle Pfeiffer, Leo McKern
Why You Must Watch Ladyhawke
"Ladyhawke" is basically a vintage horse film made for nerds. (No offense. Nerds are the best.) It's a fantasy tale in which a thief named Gaston escapes from a dungeon, launching a manhunt that lasts for years. There's magic. There are curses. There's romance. And there are lots of gorgeous horses.
It's one of those movies that makes you feel like galloping bareback in the wilderness, despite having absolutely none of the skills required to do so.
A Horse for Danny
Year released: 1995
Directed by: Dick Lowry
Starring: Leelee Sobieski, Robert Urich, Ron Brice, Gary Basaraba
Why You Must Watch A Horse for Danny
Danny Bara, a precocious 11-year-old girl, grows up at a race track alongside her horse trainer Uncle Eddie. If Eddie doesn't make it big with his next horse, his career is doomed. Danny knows this. The observant youngster also knows exactly how the racing scene works, cheating included. She also knows the horses better than anyone.
She helps her uncle beat his nasty, race-fixing competitors in style. You'll definitely need some popcorn for this one, because it's a nail-biter.
Year released: 2007
Directed by: Michael Damian
Starring: Kay Panabaker, Don Johnson, Lori Loughlin, James Best
Why You Must Watch Moondance Alexander
Who would name their kid Moondance? A kid could probably pull it off today, but 20 years ago, it would definitely be an invitation for teasing. Poor Moondance Alexander, a teenager who lives with her artistic and eccentric mom, is used to being the target of high school bullies. She's anticipating a dull, friendless summer when she meets a lost pony named Checkers.
After returning him to his owner, she begins working at the stable in exchange for being allowed to ride Checkers. She becomes convinced that he has real potential as a champion jumper, but she can't see what he's really capable of without some help.
The movie's pretty predictable, but it's a light, fun watch that's appropriate for the whole family.
Year released: 1999
Directed by: Director
Starring: Chase Moor, Maria Geelbooi, Arie Verveen
Why You Must Watch Running Free
"Running Free" is set in 1914. On a German supply ship en route to Africa, a mare gives birth to a colt aboard the ship. The pair are separated when the ship docks, and the foal is in dire need of care. A compassionate boy, also an orphan, takes the young horse under his wing.
Unfortunately, war breaks out, and the pony flees into the desert. Will he survive? Will the pair be reunited?
We won't spoil it for you.