07 Nov 18 Greatest Horse Movies (Picked By An Equestrian)
Great Horse Movies Every Equestrian Should Watch
When it comes to finding a good horse movie, it seems that they are few and far between. Nothing erks equestrians more than seeing actors on the television pretending to be knowledgeable horseback riders yet not riding correctly at all. 😂 I’ve compiled a list of the horse movies I’ve found that seems to be the most accurate when it comes to dealing with these wonderful animals.
These movies are in no particular rank because they’re just all so good. Without further ado, here’s Equine Helper’s list of the 18 Greatest Horse Movies:
Seabiscuit is probably the most acclaimed horse movie there’s ever been, earning seven Oscar nominations in 2004. Based on the real-life journey of an underdog racehorse who brought hope to many Americans in the Great Depression, it’s a great movie to watch.
Not only that, but it’s the first movie I saw with Tobey McGuire that wasn’t Spiderman. He plays the jockey, Jeff Bridges plays the horse’s owner, and Chris Cooper plays the trainer; that’s a star-studded cast!
I love this movie because it depicts how one horse can really change your life and make an impact. Seabiscuit’s story also proves that some of the best horses aren’t necessarily found in top-notch breeding facilities, but that they can also come from the lowly places. Every horse is valuable, no matter where you find them.
I love the Sylvester movie because it’s probably the most accurate when it comes to the actual technique of horseback riding. Sylvester is about a girl down on her luck that finds a horse that excels in eventing. They end up competing in a 3-day-event in Kentucky.
I love the story of Sylvester, and I like how the movie explores a discipline that’s usually not witnessed in movies. The most impressing aspect of this movie is that the majority of the instruction given to the young rider in the film is actually accurate! The horse and rider also look like they know what they’re doing for once, too.
Finally, a movie equestrians can be proud of. 🙌 Sylvester proves that you can accomplish anything no matter where you come from.
If one of the reasons you appreciate horseback riding is for the adventure it brings, then the Unbranded documentary is for you. Once I saw this documentary, I wanted to quit my job and ride my horse across the country (or at least through the wilderness.)
Unbranded follows four friends as they ride their mustang horses from Mexico to Canada over the course of a few months. You get to witness the hardiness and ability of the mustangs while you also get to see the friends build relationships with the magnificent horses.
Overall, the documentary is to build awareness about the wild mustangs in the United States and the issues they are facing. It also shines a light on the versatility of the horses and how they can be domesticated and ridden.
#4: Harry & Snowman
Horse movies usually depict an underdog horse to rise up and win it all; after all, those are the stories people like. It’s one thing to see those stories in a movie, but it’s another thing when you find out that the story really did happen.
Harry & Snowman is a documentary about the famous showjumper duo, Harry, the rider, and Snowman, the horse. Harry was a poor immigrant who bought Snowman for only a few dollars when he found him bound for slaughter.
In only a few short years, the team went from poor and slaughter-bound to competing in prestigious competitions and winning! Much like Seabiscuit, this story proves that some of the best horses can come out of the most unexpected places.
#5: War Horse
War Horse is a Steven Spielberg film that was nominated for six Oscars in 2012. It’s the touching story about a horse that gets tossed into the chaos of Europe during World War I. I’ll warn you ahead of time…this movie is a tear-jerker.
The main character in War Horse is a horse named Joey that we follow throughout the story. I’m sure Mr. Spielberg was up to something when he decided that the audience would view the story, the characters, and the war through the eyes of a horse.
It’s clearly depicted in this movie that horses are innocent; they don’t judge us as humans or the circumstances we may throw them into; they trust us enough to charge into battle for us and face the rains of bullet fire.
#6: Miracle of the White Stallions
I have one distinctive memory of watching this movie with my dad when I was little. I remember seeing the beautiful white horses on-screen performing complex maneuvers and techniques…and I was amazed. This was all before I had even been to my first riding lesson!
The Miracle of the White Stallions is a remarkable true story that took place during World War II. As the Nazis drew closer to invading Vienna Austria, the Spanish Riding School feared for the Lippizanar breed’s survival. In order to protect the precious breed, the riding school instructor looked to the United States military for help, and to one man in particular…General George Patton.
It’s insane to think that a love for horses could sway a man to protect and transfer a few magnificent horses to safety, but it can! This movie shines a light on the good people who protect innocent animals, as well as showcasing the amazing things that Lippizanars can do.
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#7: The Mustang
The Mustang is at some points, almost too hard to watch. It’s raw, violent, and at some points, too hopeless as you watch an incarcerated inmate struggle with his surroundings and himself. However, it all looks up when the inmate joins a rehabilitation program focused on training wild mustangs and rehabilitating inmates.
At first, it’s a rough go, but as the inmate grows closer to the horse, he begins to open up and build relationships with some of the other people around him.
Horses have a way of changing us for the better if we let them. They’re able to heal wounds and help us find things inside of ourselves that we never knew was there. That’s the hope in this movie, found in the subtle manner of a very realistic story that not many people want to take the time to address.
Hidalgo is an epic of a story if there ever was one. It’s about a cowboy and his mustang who find themselves competing in an endurance race across the desert, facing some of the best endurance horses and riders in the country. Not only does the pair have their pride to uphold, but also their survival!
This is a fun movie to watch! I actually met one of the horses that played Hidalgo, so it makes me praise the movie even more! As the cowboy and the horse compete in the race, the form a closer bond. The circumstances also help the cowboy to accept his own heritage and be proud of who he is.
#9: Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron
Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron is an iconic movie that I watch over and over again when I was younger. There’s nothing like watching a wild horse take down an entire army 😂
Spirit follows the story of a wild mustang who is captured by the United States Calvary. While they attempt to break him, he meets a young Native American boy who overtime, bonds with him. Together, they escape the calvary and fight to protect their homeland.
Spirit reminds us of the actual spirit of the horse; there will always be a part of them that is wild and free. They have grit and strength that will always run through their veins.
#10: 12 Strong
I actually just watched this movie a few weeks before I sat down to write this article, so it was still fresh in my mind. 12 Strong, while not necessarily focused on the “horse” aspect of the movie, is a great true story that proves all the amazing things horses are still doing in this day and age.
12 Strong is about a United States Army special forces team sent to join and help an alliance of tribesmen and locals in Afghanistan in the hopes that together, they’ll be able to bring down the Taliban in the area.
The US soldiers are up for a surprise when they realize that their main mode of transportation will be horses, not to mention they’ll be riding into battle. The horses are considered warriors by the tribesmen, and their hardiness, grit, and endurance prove it true.
The fact that this really happened only a few short years ago is what makes the story so impressive. The soldiers we originally deemed “The Horse Soldiers” as they learned to rely on the little mountain horses for most of their needs.
Dreamer is a movie about a horse, yes, but also about the relationship between a father and daughter. A racehorse is injured during a race and taken in by a father and daughter duo, played by Kurt Russell and Dakota Fanning. As the horse recovered, so does the relationship between the two.
I can’t tell you how many relationships I’ve seen draw closer due to a horse! I know in my personal life that horses have made me closer to my mother, as it’s something we both have a love for. Dreamer paints this dynamic beautifully as the story unfurls.
Not only is this a feel-good story that may hit home, but it’s also the story of an underdog and a comeback kid. You should definitely check out this movie!
#12: The Derby Stallion
There’s nothing like seeing a young Zac Efron on a horse. The Derby Stallion in about a teenager who discovers that he has a knack for horseback riding as he befriends an old-time horse trainer. Before he knows it, the teenager is racing in a derby against some of the town’s best riders.
This movie is all about forging your own path and looking past your prejudices. Horses have a great way of encouraging us to do something new and out of our comfort zone, which is what a lot of this movie is about.
Flicka is a story not only about the bond between a girl and a horse but also about relationships within a family. You get to witness a father struggling to connect with his daughter and a sister and brother doing all they can to protect one another. The horse simply brings it all together to remind all of them about the importance of family.
A girl is at odds with her father (as most teenagers are.) One day, she finds a wild mustang that she falls in love with, calling the horse Flicka. From there, you’ll witness the devotion that the horse and girl have for each other and the devotion that the family has for each other as well.
I specifically like the movie Flicka because of the dynamic between the brother and sister. It reminds of my childhood when I would force my brother to go to the barn with me and ride 😂 He turned out to be a great rider though 🤷♀️
#14: Lean On Pete
This is another one I watched more recently. By this time, I’m starting to realize that most horse movies have some recurring theme of innocence, and this one’s no different.
Lean on Pete is a somewhat depressing story of a young kid who loses everything, so he decides to save a lame racehorse from a claims race and trek the country in search of a lost relative. The title holds the name of the horse, Lean on Pete, who turns to be an emotional crutch for the struggling kid.
This movie is sad because it reminds me that there are unfortunately people and animals in the world who are just thrown away and made to deal with things on their own. Let this be a reminder to us to help those in need, whether horse or human.
#15: Bite the Bullet
I remember watching Bite the Bullet when I was a kid. It came on the Saturday western channel that my dad and I watched every weekend. This movie is about a few of the vastly different contestants who decide to compete in a long-distance horse race across the Wild West.
In the beginning, the different characters can’t stand each other, but as the race goes on, you see bonds form between each of them. It’s funny what tiresome circumstances and horses can do to a person.
#16: Racing Stripes
Racing Stripes is a great movie about a zebra that dreams of becoming a racehorse. Raised by a racehorse trainer and his daughter, the zebra likes to watch the horse races from the paddock where he lives.
The zebra becomes convinced that he is destined to race among the thoroughbreds and so he begins to train. Sooner or later, he ends up on the racetrack competing against big-time racers.
Racing Stripes reminds us that we can do anything we put our minds too! There’s nothing too big for someone who’s committed to giving it their all. Plus it’s just hilarious to watch big-name celebrities playing farm animals.
Secretariat is about…well…Secretariat! As one of the greatest racehorses in history, it’s about time there was a movie about him! Not only that, but I’ve also been to the farm where Secretariat lived, so I automatically feel a little more attached to the story. 😂
This movie is specifically about what went on behind the scenes of Secretariat’s early life and famous wins. His owner Was Penny Chenery, who was trying desperately to save the family farm. She believed that if Secretariat could win the Triple Crown, then it would happen.
It’s always fascinating to learn about what went into making such an iconic figure, especially one like Secretariat. What seemed more like a chance throughout the story turned out to be more like destiny. Now, he will live on in the history books as one of the greatest racehorses of all time.
Buck is a documentary that follows a world-renowned horseman, Buck Brannaman and his unique horse training techniques known as natural horsemanship.
In this documentary, you see Buck train horses using a relationship built on trust and explanation rather than one built off of fear. These training methods are revolutionary and have become more popular in recent years. You also get a glimpse of the circumstances that helped Buck become the amazing horse trainer he is.
Buck Brannaman was physically abused as a child and the situation helped him to be more empathetic to the horses he worked with. Witnessing both horse and human broken down by fear, Buck took a different approach and learned to build a relationship with the animal in order to communicate better.
Buck has something to teach every horse person when it comes to building a better relationship with your equine. I loved hearing about his methods and theories through this documentary.
If you haven’t seen all of these movies, you should go check them out! Now that you know the movies, check out the quotes! Take a look at our article The Best Horse Quotes (Picked By An Actual Equestrian.)
I’m a lifelong horse trainer and horseback rider who’s passionate about teaching others about the things I’ve learned. I grew up competing in numerous English horseback riding disciplines and am now a certified equine massage therapist. I currently own three horses.