It's easy to find great movies for horse lovers. The movies include both those films that are based on the adventures of horses and even more that have to do with training and utilizing horses. These movies include beloved classics, big-budget action movies and epics, and great horse racing movies as well. What the best had in common was treating the horses with respect.
The next best thing to people riding and loving their horses is to watch movies about the beloved horses in their spare time. With Oscar nominees, documentaries, new classics, dramas, and family pictures, here is a look at the best horse movies of all-time.
10 WAR HORSE
Based on the 1982 novel by Michael Morpurgo, Steven Spielberg directed War Horse in 2011 about a thoroughbred horse named Joey. The story starts with Joey's birth and then his training by a boy named Albert. However, when Albert's dad sells Joey to the army when they need money to pay rent after a downpour destroys their crops, Albert watches as his horse is sent off to serve in the war.
War Horse then shows Joey's work in the war, with Albert eventually enlisting when he reaches legal age. As expected, Albert is reunited with Joey. Tom Hiddleston, Benedict Cumberbatch, and Eddie Marsan lead the cast with Jeremy Irvine as Albert. This horse movie received six Oscar nominations.
Seabiscuit is a horse movie from 2003 based on the champion thoroughbred who was the top money-winning racehorse until the '40s. However, there was a lot more to Seabiscuit than just being a racehorse. The horse was also small and became a symbol of hope to Americans during the era of the Great Depression.
The 2003 movie was not the first to cover the life of Seabiscuit, as there was also a Shirley Temple film in 1949 before this adaptation of the book about the horse by Laura Hillenbrand. Gary Ross directed the movie, which earned seven Oscar nominations and starred Tobey Maguire and Jeff Bridges.
8 THE BLACK STALLION
One of the best children's books of all-time about horses was The Black Stallion by Walter Farley. In 1979, five years after it was published, the novel was turned into a movie. The story is about a boy shipwrecked on an island with an Arabian stallion and the friendship he develops with the horse.
When the two are saved by a fisherman's boat, they return home but remain in contact. Soon, Black is trained to be a racehorse and turns out to be fast and Alec trains to be a jockey. This horse movie received two Oscar nominations; one for actor Mickey Rooney and one for the film's editing.
7 THE HORSE WHISPERER
Released originally in 1995, The Horse Whisperer was a film directed by Robert Redford, who also starred in the movie. Based on the 1995 novel by Nicholas Evans, Redford plays a horse trainer known as the "Horse Whisperer" who is able to help a young girl (a teenage Scarlett Johansson) understand horses.
The movie starts off showing Grace and her horse involved in an accident that injures her and her horse while also taking the life of her friend and her horse. Grace has a partially amputated leg and is bitter while her horse is traumatized. Tom Booker comes in and helps the girl recover by helping her horse.
While Seabiscuit was a racehorse that won over the hears of America during the Great Depression, Secretariat remains known as one of the most successful thoroughbred racehorses of all-time. He won five Eclipse Awards and is second to only Man o' War in the listing of the greatest racehorses of the 20th Century by the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame.
In 2010, the movie that told the story of this amazing horse was brought to the big screen by Disney. Diane Lane is the human star of this movie, the owner of Secretariat, while John Malkovich stars as the horse's trainer. The film was not as successful as other horse movies, but it received high praise from Roger Ebert, who called the movie "authentic."
5 SPIRIT: STALLION OF THE CIMARRON
Released in 2002 by DreamWorks Animation, Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron is an interesting horse movie. Instead of talking horses like you might get in any other animated movie about animals, these horses communicate through sounds and body language, just like a real horse would. It was enough to impress critics and earn it an Oscar nomination. With that said, Matt Damon narrated Spirit's thoughts, so it had that.
The story was about a young colt that grows into a proud stallion and the leader of his herd. However, he is captured by wranglers, with the colonel trying to tame him in very cruel ways. Spirit also meets a Native American child and the two develop a friendship that saves both their lives.
Joe Johnston (The Rocketeer) brought the movie Hildago to the big screen in 2004. It's a biographical western about Frank Hopkins and his horse Hidalgo. Hopkins, in real life, was a professional horseman who was a long-distance rider that supposedly won 400 races; although most of his claims were considered fictional, as he was also a circus performer.
The movie itself took his exploits seriously, focusing on a horse race in Arabia in 1891. Viggo Mortensen starred as Hopkins and, while the film was "based on a true story," many of the stories by Hopkins—including the race in this movie—were considered tall tales.
3 NATIONAL VELVET
The novel National Velvet was published in 1935 and told the story of a girl named Velvet who trained and rode her horse, Pie, in the Grand National Steeplechase. While fictional, the book was about ordinary people, and in this case, a woman in the '20s achieving spectacular things. The movie based on the book was released in 1944.
National Velvet was a massive success critically, with a 12-year-old Elizabeth Taylor portraying Velvet Brown and Mickey Rooney as a drifter who helps her. The movie picked up five Oscar nominations, winning two of them, and was added to the National Film Registry in 2003 for its cultural significance.
Released in 2011, Buck was a documentary about the real-life horse whisperer — Buck Brannaman. This was the man that came to work on Robert Redford's fictional movie The Horse Whisperer as the lead consultant. His method of training horses is to do it through leadership and sensitivity, resisting any forms of punishment.
This documentary possesses a plethora of entertainment value for horse lovers and won the audience award at Sundance. It follows Buck as he travels around the country, working for people who need help in training and bonding with their horses. He also attends clinics to help teach people a more humane and kinder way of developing a lasting relationship with the animals.
Released in 2005, Dreamer was a family movie about a horse trainer and his daughter, and how their relationship changes as they work with horses. Kurt Russell is Ben, the father who neglects his young daughter as he works hard to care for his horses. Eleven-year-old Dakota Fanning is his daughter.
It is one horse—Soñador—that bonds the two and finally helps strengthen their relationship after years of neglect and hardships. The movie was nominated for a number of awards, including Best Sports Movie at the ESPY Awards and Best Family Film at the Critics Choice Awards.