Our 10 must-watch movies for horse lovers!
While some of us have a little more time on our hands currently, we thought now might be a great time to trawl through the archives to re-watch some of our favourite horsey movies.
We must admit, we’re movie lovers, and anything with a horse or two in it gets our attention. We love being transported to a different time or place to live out our horsey dreams vicariously through the TV screen. Many of these titles are originally books, so why not read the book first, then watch the movie, and then the movie remake! More often than not, these horsey movies are great entertainment for the whole family. So, switch off the news, make some popcorn, book your spot on the couch and let these wonderful films transport you away for an hour or two!
Here is our (re)watch-list for the next few days:
*We were going to add the Rotten Tomato or IMBD ratings here but decided not to. Who needs that kind of negativity in a time like this? 😉
1 BLACK BEAUTY
How can any equestrian movie list not start with the classic? We are super excited to see that a remake of this classic film is due for release in 2021! Starring Kate Winslet and Claire Forlani, we cannot wait for this one! In the meantime, we’ll be re-watching the 1994 version of the classic book.
Adventure, drama, family – PG
Director: Caroline Thompson
Writers: Anna Sewell (novel), Caroline Thompson (screenplay)
Stars: Sean Bean, David Thewlis
This touching story recounts the life of a well-bred horse named Black Beauty. Narrated by the horse, he tells of his journey from being a young colt frolicking at his dam’s side in the English countryside, to a dreary life pulling cabs in the congested and polluted streets of London. Along the way he encounters various owners and equine friends.
Interesting trivia: The character Black Beauty is a colt/stallion. However, the newly born foal playing Black Beauty in this film is a filly.
2 THE HORSE WHISPERER
One of my personal favourites that I’ve probably watched at least 5 times.
Drama, romance, western – PG13
Director: Robert Redford
Writers: Nicholas Evans (novel), Eric Roth and Richard LaGravenese (screenplay)
Stars: Robert Redford, Kristin Scott Tomas, Scarlett Johansson, Sam Neil
When a teenage girl is traumatized by a riding accident that badly injures her horse, her mother, a high-powered New York magazine editor, realizes Grace will only recover once the horse is healed. She takes them both to a secluded Montana ranch, where legendary “horse whisperer” Tom Booker begins to heal the horse and also stirs long-dormant feelings in Annie that lead her to question her marriage and choice of career.
Interesting trivia: Robert Redford broke a toe in filming when a horse stepped on it. We all know it happens! The original novel was based on three horsemen: Tom Dorrance, Ray Hunt and Buck Brannaman that author Nicholas Evans befriended. Not Monty Roberts, as commonly thought.
An inspiring true story of the underdog beating all odds.
Drama, history, sport – PG13
Director: Gary Ross
Writers: Laura Hillenbrand (book), Gary Ross (screenplay)
Stars: Tobey Maguire, Jeff Bridges, Elizabeth Banks
In the midst of the Great Depression, a businessman coping with the tragic death of his son, a jockey with a history of brutal injuries and a down-and-out horse trainer team up to train a temperamental racehorse that no one thinks can win. The true story of the legendary, undersized racehorse whose victories lifted not only the spirits of the team behind it but also lifted the spirits of the nation when it needed it most.
Interesting trivia: Over 40 horses are featured in the film, with 10 sharing the role of Seabiscuit. The horses’ running distances never exceeded three furlongs, or three-eighths of a mile, per take.
This beautifully made, Oscar-winning movie will have you in tears, for sure.
Action, adventure, drama – PG13
Director: Steven Spielberg
Writers: Lee Hall (screenplay), Richard Curtis (screenplay)
Stars: Jeremy Irvine, Emily Watson, David Thewlis
Albert and his beloved horse, Joey, live on a farm in the British countryside. At the outbreak of World War I, Albert and Joey are forcibly parted when Albert’s father sells the horse to the British cavalry. Against the backdrop of the Great War, Joey begins an odyssey full of danger, joy and sorrow, and he transforms everyone he meets along the way. Meanwhile Albert, unable to forget his equine friend, searches the battlefields of France to find Joey and bring him home.
Interesting trivia: Fourteen horses played Joey during the movie. The main acting horse in the film, Finder’s Key, was also one of the horses that portrayed Seabiscuit (2003) in the eponymous movie about the famous racehorse. Steven Spielberg was inspired to do a movie about horses by his daughter Destry, who was an avid rider growing up. He promised her he would make a movie about horses one day.
5 CITY SLICKERS
One I watched as a 9-year-old (giving away my age) and fist inspired me to the idea of a horse riding holiday. The dream stuck and look where I am now!
Comedy – PG13
Director: Ron Underwood
Writers: Lowell Ganz, Babaloo Mandel
Stars: Billy Crystal, Jack Palance, Daniel Stern
Every year, three friends take a vacation away from their wives. This year, henpecked Phil, newly married Ed, and Mitch – terrified of his midlife crisis -decide to reignite their masculinity by taking a supervised cattle drive across the Southwest. Under the supervision of gruff cowboy, the men set out on a journey that turns unexpectedly dangerous. The three men bond along the way to conquering their fear of aging.
Interesting trivia: Daniel Stern declined the riding lessons offered for the movie in order to better convey his character’s inexperience at horse riding.
We were swept away by this epic adventure starring this striking paint and his equally striking rider!
Action, adventure, biography – PG13
Director: Joe Johnston
Writer: John Fusco
Stars: Viggo Mortensen, Omar Sharif, Zuleikha Robinson
Rugged cowboy Frank Hopkins is an expert horseman who performs in Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show. When affluent Sheik Riyadh piqued by tales of Hopkins’ talent, challenges Hopkins to prove himself in a treacherous long-distance horse race called the Ocean of Fire, Hopkins is forced to oblige. In the Middle East with his American mustang, he must race against thoroughbred horses ridden by the best riders in the world with his reputation, and his life, at stake.
Interesting trivia: Viggo Mortensen purchased the horse who played the title character (T.J.) after this film was completed. Viggo Mortensen did many of his own stunts and horse riding in the movie. *after learning this we are even bigger Viggo Mortensen fans 😉
7 TORNADO AND THE KALAHARI HORSE WHISPERER
This one is closer to home for us and might me lesser known to many of you. This South African movie was filmed on location in the Kalahari Desert. Although we admit there are a few holes in the storyline, we love this movie for its beautiful cinematography and lovely scenes of the grey Arab, Tornado, kicking up the desert sand.
Drama, family – PG
Director: Regardt van den Bergh
Writers: Paul Boekkool and Darron Meyer
Stars: Danny Keogh, Quentin Krog, Lean van den Bergh
A burdened young man finds a troubled horse and contacts a South African horse whisperer for help. The horse whisperer leads the pair down a path of redemption where they heal one other. Inspired by actual events.
Interesting trivia: The film was shot in an isolated corner of the world called Noenieput. The settlement consists of 4 or 5 houses with no electricity or plumbed water.
8 RACING STRIPES
Seabiscuit, but with a lighthearted spin! And here at AHS, we absolutely love these stripey bottoms! 😊
Adventure, comedy, drama – G
Director: Frederik Du Chau
Writers: David Schmidt and Steven P. Wegner
Stars: Frankie Muniz, David Spade, Snoop Dogg, Dustin Hoffman
An abandoned zebra grows up believing he is a racehorse, and, with the help of his barnyard friends and a teenage girl, sets out to achieve his dream of racing with thoroughbreds.
Interesting Trivia: The Shetland pony Tucker (Dustin Hoffman) had to be painted brown during filming, because his real coat turned grey.
9 SPIRIT: STALLION OF THE CIMARRON
Who doesn’t enjoy a beautiful animated movie!
Animation, adventure, drama – G
Directors: Kelly Asbury, Lorna Cook
Writers: John Fusco (screenplay by), Michael Lucker (co-writer)
Stars: Matt Damon, James Cromwell, Daniel Studi
This follows the adventures of a wild and rambunctious mustang stallion as he journeys through the untamed American frontier. Encountering man for the first time, Spirit defies being broken, even as he develops a remarkable friendship with a young Lakota brave. The courageous young stallion also finds love with a beautiful paint mare named Rain on his way to becoming one of the greatest unsung heroes of the Old West.
Interesting trivia: The model for “Spirit” was a 3-year-old Kiger stallion named Donner.
True story of the legendary Secretariat.
Biography, drama, family – PG
Director: Randall Wallace
Writers: Mike Rich, William Nack (book)
Stars: Diane Lane, John Malkovich, Margo Martindale | See full cast & crew
Despite her lack of experience, housewife and mother Penny Chenery agrees to take over management of the family Thoroughbred farm after her father becomes ill. Successfully navigating her way through the male-dominated world of horse racing, Chenery, together with veteran trainer Lucien Laurin, fosters a gifted colt that ultimately crosses the finish line into history as the Triple Crown winner in 1973.
Interesting trivia: Five horses played the part of Secretariat. “Trolley Boy”, the principal horse used was selected by Penny Chenery in a Secretariat look-alike contest in Kentucky, and even walked the Red Carpet at the film premiere in Hollywood. The five horses, four thoroughbreds and a quarter horse were made up with special make-up to replicate his three “white socks”, his stripe, and star. Some of the close-up shots of the racing horses were achieved by attaching lightweight digital cameras to sticks and positioning them close to the horses as they galloped around the track. The horses got used to it, but the jockeys were sometimes startled by them.