We recently posted our picks for best horse movies on Netflix and Amazon Prime and best horse TV shows. Now, it’s time to take things up a notch with the best horse movies of all time! It’s not going to be easy, but hey, we’re up for the challenge.
There’s just something unbeatable about a movie on a subject you’re passionate about. If you’re a horse owner, then you probably understand the joy of being surrounded by everything “horse” even in your downtime. A horsey movie night this weekend? Count us in (as long as we don’t see them get hurt, because of course, we’ll ugly cry. A lot.).
Best Horse Movies of All Time
We’re pretty spoiled for choice when it comes to great horse movies. As tough as it’s going to be to narrow this down, we’re going to give it our best shot! We aren’t keen on putting our picks in a particular order as movie taste is pretty subjective.
It depends entirely on your preferred genres and types of stories, but these movies were chosen for their strong reviews and for having a timeless appeal that has audiences coming back for more year after year.
Best Horse Movies of All Time #1: The Horse Whisperer (1998)
Released in 1998, The Horse Whisperer received critical acclaim and for very good reason. Nicholas Evan’s novel of the same name formed the basis for this movie, and it is the story of Grace and her horse, Pilgrim. The duo was traumatized after an accident that left Grace badly injured and Pilgrim close to being euthanized.
Grace’s headstrong mother, Annie, with whom she frequently clashes, contacts Tom Booker, lauded as a “horse whisperer” in a magazine. She asks for his help with healing Pilgrim, though both Tom and Grace are initially reluctant. True to form, Annie persists, and they take Pilgrim to Montana to meet Tom. The Booker family then hospitably invites the unexpected, uninvited pair to stay while Tom works with Pilgrim.
At the Booker family ranch, the already strained mother-daughter relationship faces further challenges and new connections form with the family that takes them in. Less obvious is whether Pilgrim and Grace will ever learn to trust one another again. The Horse Whisperer is a beautiful movie that every equestrian needs to see at least once.
Best Horse Movies of All Time #2: Black Beauty (1994)
Black Beauty is likely the most famous of all our picks for best horse movies of all time. If you haven’t seen it, get tissues at the ready because you’re probably going to need them. Anna Sewell wrote the novel Black Beauty in 1877 when horses were largely used for work purposes. The titular character, “Black Beauty”, is a thoroughbred with a gentle nature, but he never seems able to find a place to call home for very long.
The farmer who raised him eventually sells Black Beauty to Birtwick Park, where he is a much-loved member of the family. Shortly afterward, Black Beauty meets the love of his life — a moody, temperamental chestnut mare called Ginger. Ginger prefers her own company but Black Beauty persists in his attempts to get her attention.
He also meets his best friend, Joe, the kind stable hand. Joe is devastated when the squire sells Black Beauty and Ginger to a rich woman with no empathy at all for the horses. Before he leaves, Joe vows to find Black Beauty and promises that they will be together again someday.
Best Horse Movies of All Time #3:Seabiscuit (2003)
Academy award-nominated Seabiscuit is a horse movie we simply couldn’t overlook. It’s based on the book Seabiscuit: An American Legend by Laura Hillenbrand. In the movie, businessman Charles S. Howard acquires a horse named “Seabiscuit”. Seabiscuit had been written off by his previous trainer, James E. Fitzsimmons.
Howard initially decides against racing Seabiscuit, deeming him too small, too slow and too rebellious. Smith, however, had seen something in the horse’s eyes that convinced him there was something more than what everyone else saw. He selects John “Red” Pollard, an angry young man who is blind in one eye, to be Seabiscuit’s jockey.
The reason for Smith’s unusual decision is that he sees something in Pollard similar to what he sees in Seabiscuit. Smith’s intuition and persistence pay off, and soon, Seabiscuit becomes Howard’s best racing horse. This is such an inspiring movie and one that will no doubt speak to anyone who has ever felt like the underdog.
“You don’t throw a whole life away, just ‘cos he’s banged up a little.” — Charles S. Howard, Seabiscuit.
Best Horse Movies of All Time #4: War Horse (2011)
If you’re into films with a historical theme, War Horse is a truly beautiful drama set in the First World War. Starring Jeremy Irvine as protagonist Albert Narracott, the story focuses on Albert’s relationship with his horse, Joey. The two begin their friendship plowing the family farm but are soon broken apart when Austria-Hungary declares war.
We follow Joey in his new life as a cavalry horse and, eventually, Albert’s when he joins up as a soldier. Will the pair make it through the war and be reunited? It’s safe to say that this is another movie for which tissues are sure to be necessary. War Horse is a movie that makes it hard for even the toughest to avoid welling up at various intervals.
War Horse is also a poignant reminder of the millions of soldiers and horses who lost their lives in the First World War.
Best Horse Movies of All Time #5: The Man from Snowy River (1982)
If you’re in the mood for something a little more classic and are a fan of old-school westerns, The Man from Snowy River might be for you. Kirk Douglas stars as rancher Harrison who gives a job to eighteen-year-old Jim Craig, who recently lost his father. Jim’s ambition is to win back the land that was taken from him after his father’s death.
Things don’t exactly go well for Jim in his new job. For a start, bossman Harrison is far from the most amenable of characters. Jim lets a prized colt escape (not his fault, by the way) and Harrison is infuriated when he finds out about Jim’s friendship with his daughter. As expected, he is having none of it.
This movie has a pretty traditional “journey into manhood” theme as we see young Jim fight tooth and nail to prove himself. The Man from Snowy River performed excellently at the Australian box office and was “the highest-grossing film until Crocodile Dundee (1986) was released a few years later” according to an article by Adam Blackshaw.
Best Horse Movies of All Time #6: National Velvet (1944)
The oldest of all our picks is a classic horse movie starring Elizabeth Taylor and Mickey Rooney. Taylor plays a young horse lover called Velvet and Rooney plays Mi, a former jockey with his career in tatters. Velvet wins a horse that she names “The Pie” and has ambitions to race him in the Grand National.
With the financial aid of Velvet’s mother, Velvet and Mi start training The Pie for the Grand National. The duo’s success culminates in Velvet having to make a choice — continue on with a quiet life or tread the path of international stardom.
National Velvet currently holds a rating of 100% on Rotten Tomatoes and has been described by critic Nell Minow as a “great family movie, even better for horse lovers”.
Best Horse Movies of All Time #7: Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron (2002)
Dreamworks’ Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron is an animated movie beloved by children and adults alike. It’s about the titular character, “Spirit”, a wild Mustang who is the leader of his herd. His trials begin when he is captured and taken to a US Cavalry base camp.
While there, Spirit remains unwilling to be tamed and gets into all kinds of mischief in spite of the formidable Colonel’s attempts. A kind-hearted Lakota Native American called “Little Creek” also initially struggles to tame Spirit, and enlists the help of a friendly, well-mannered mare called “Rain”, whom Spirit comes to love.
Also, Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron follows the courageous Mustang’s quest to keep Rain safe and be free again. It’s a story of love, loyalty and the bonds between horses and humans.
Best Horse Movies of All Time: Final Thoughts
There are so many fantastic horse movies that, unfortunately, we couldn’t include every single one of them in this post. So, we’ll end with a few honorable mentions — Hidalgo (2004), Flicka (2006) and Dreamer (2005).
Furthermore, if you’re on the hunt for a streaming service with plenty of horse-related movies and TV shows, check out Netflix and Amazon Prime. Both of these services have a good selection of equine-based content for you to enjoy. This depends a little on your location, of course, due to geoblocking. That means that some movies may only be available on streaming services in certain countries due to restrictions.
That said, wherever you are in the world, we hope our best horse movies of all time collection has helped you pick out something special to enjoy this weekend.