Films have always had a way with emotions and fuelling passion, and horse motions pictures are arguably some of the most loved movies. Top 10 Greatest Horse Movies With time, many producers have released remarkable masterpieces making it hard to decide which to watch. Below, we\’ve compiled a well-thought-out list that you\’ll enjoy. While some of these films are simply about ordinary horses, some are remembrances and celebrations of horses that graced the world with classical performances on the track.
For instance, the movie- Secretariat- by Walt Disney Pictures depicts the life of a champion American Thoroughbred racehorse. The horse still holds the record for the fastest time ever recorded in the American Triple crown. Whether you\’re a newcomer or an existing horse lover, this compilation provides a great movie option.
Secretariat is based on the real Triple Crown-winning champion, Secretariat, owned by Penny Chenery. Apart from the Triple Crown, Secretariat also won five Eclipse Awards and was named the second-best horse of the 20th Century by the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame. Nicknamed Big Red because of his appearance, the horse was an incredible performer at the racetrack. Disney tells the racehorse\’s tale of spirit and tenacity in this 2010 film in a great way to make sure the viewers are stuck to their screens until the end.
Whether you\’re a horse racing fan or not, this masterpiece horse movie has appeal to all. Secretariat is rated 7.2 on IMDb. You can watch the film on Prime Video or Disney+.
- The film\’s production needed five horses to play Secretariat. These horses included a quarterhorse and four thoroughbreds. They not only had to play as the champion but look the part. The duty fell on Lisa Brown in Horse Continuity to paint the three distinct white socks, facial star, and stripe onto each horse.
- The production team had the actual Triple Crown Trophy on loan from Kentucky\’s Derby Museum to shoot the film. Because of its history and importance, the trophy was handled with gloves. It was hand-carried back and forth between Louisiana and Kentucky during the making of the movie.
- Several crew members took up double duties. For instance, Michael Mills, head of the movie\’s make-up department, played a golfer in the film alongside John Malkovich, who played Lucien Laurin, Secretariat\’s trainer. Another instance of double duty was by Rusty Hendrickson, the lead horse wrangler, and the fry cook.
- Trolley Boy, one of the acting horses, was discovered during a Secretariat look-alike contest at the Secretariat Festival held in Paris, Kentucky. Daine Lane stated that Trolley Boy brought on his own talent to fit the role.
- Secretariat still holds the fastest time ever at the 1973 Kentucky Derby, where he managed 1:59:40. He also did record times in the Belmont and Preakness stakes to become the Triple Crown winner.
- While he might be known for his best races, Secretariat didn\’t start as a winner. He didn\’t quite catch the attention of people. Eddy Sweat, the horse\’s groom, even stated that Secretariat would be a bit wild sometimes and clumsy. However, the racehorse proceeded to win sixteen of his first twenty-one starts.
- The horse had a large heart. After the racehorse was euthanized at 19 years of age on 4th October 1989 because of laminitis, veterinarian Thomas Swerczek was asked to do an autopsy on Secretariat. He discovered that the racehorse had a heart two and a half times larger than the average horse. He stated that they all just stood there in awe of the big and perfectly healthy heart.
- Secretariat became a celebrity and was featured in multiple leading magazines. After becoming the ninth Triple Crown winner, he was featured in several best-selling magazines, including Newsweek, Time, and Sports Illustrated. He became a massive sensation to the point where he started receiving fan mail.
Chenery ended up hiring a secretary to help her handle the mail and worked with the William Morris Agency in managing Secretariat\’s public engagements. The thoroughbred got used to the attention and even learned how to pose for the cameras.
- Jockey Paul Feliciano rode the champion American thoroughbred racehorse for his first two races. Ron Turcotte then replaced Feliciano and won many stakes with Secretariat. Unfortunately, Ron Turcotte was paralyzed after an accident while racing Flag of Leyte Gulf.
- The final question we all want to be answered is, how much did Secretariat earn? Throughout his racing career, he earned about $1,316,808, which would be $7.7 million today. His stud fee was about $70,000.
The film is based on the true story of Seabiscuit, an undersized and overlooked racehorse that went on to become one of the greatest racehorses in history. Seabiscuit, the film, focused on how three men transformed him into a champion and inspired a nation during the Great Depression. The three men, a businessman, a trainer, and a jockey, meet at their lowest and agree to work together.
This film depicts depression-era America and showcases how the men and Seabiscuit overcome the odds after taking a leap of faith and teaches viewers to find hope even in the market circumstances. Seabiscuit is a Universal Pictures and DreamWorks Pictures production. It was distributed by Universal Studios, directed by Gary Ross, and written by Ross, Lee Hall, and Laura Hillenbrand.
While there are no known fun facts about the cast or production team, there are a few instances where the movie\’s director, Gary Ross, took factual liberty. For example, in the film, he shows that Seabiscuit\’s jockey, Pollard, hurt his leg just a few days before the race against the champion, War Admiral. This isn\’t accurate since his injury happened a few months before race day.
The motion picture shows that Pollard\’s recovered before competing in the Santa Anita Handicap, but in real life, the jockey took three races to prepare to ride Seabiscuit in the final race. The actual Santa Anita Handicap events also aren\’t well depicted. Gary Ross also took the liberty to tweak the ending of Seabiscuit to give the movie more melodrama. While inaccurate, one must understand that the conclusion was more inspiring and poignant than the real-life events.
- Seabiscuit didn\’t perform well in his first 17 races and was always taken as a joke by the horse racing community.
- He never featured in the Kentucky Derby. While the event is one of the most popular in horse racing across the US, not many great racehorses get to perform. This is because the derby is restricted to three-year-olds, yet some horses display their greatness later in life. Other great horses that missed the derby because of their age are Dr Fager, Tinzwow, John Henry, and Man O\’ War.
- The racehorse could not perform under James Fitzsimmons, a renowned Hall of Fame trainer at the time. James, nicknamed Sunny Jim, has prepared two Tripple Crown-winning horses, Omaha and Gallant Fox, earning him a place among the best of the best. However, he was wrong about Seabiscuit.
He thought the horse had a lazy attitude and would never achieve anything on the professional level. For that, the horse had to switch trainers and stables.
- Tom Smith took on Seabiscuit and made him the legend we know today. Granted, he didn\’t share techniques with other trainers. He was known for his unconventional training methods.
- Red Pollard, Seabiscuit\’s jockey, was secretly blind in one eye. His secret cost his team in the 1937 Santa Anita Handicap because he didn\’t see Rosemount, a competitor coming until it was too late. The loss cost them the race and the Horse of the Year Award.
However, this worked in the Seabiscuit team\’s favour after War Admiral won the title. The race against the champions became a matter of where and when instead of why and how.
- The race against War Admiral drew 40,000 fans to the Baltimore Pimlico Race Course and millions who were listening on their radios. George Woolf rode Seabiscuit for the race after Pollard had injured himself. Seabiscuit dominated the race after he was secretly trained to start strong-something that he hadn\’t achieved before.
For our next best horse movie, we\’ll look at a more recent film. Walk. Ride. Rodeo is an inspiring true story about Amberley Snyder, a championship horse barrel racer and motivational speaker. The movie looks into her life before and after the tragic car accident in 2010 that left her paralyzed. Amberley was born into a rodeo family and developed a passion for horses early.
Her father, Greg Snyder, was a professional rodeo clown and her mother, Cindy Snyder, was a barrel racer. Amberley followed in her mother\’s footsteps and became a professional barrel racer. At the age of 19, Amberley was on top of the world. She had just won the National Little Britches Rodeo Association All-Around Cowgirl World Championship and qualified for the 2009 National High School Rodeo Association Pole Bending Finals.
In 2010, her life changed forever when she was involved in a severe car accident that left her paralyzed from the waist down. Doctors had told her the devastating news, but Snyder was back on the horse after months of intense physical therapy. In 2015, she won a fan exemption to participate in The American Rodeo by RED-TV in front of forty thousand fans and millions watching TV. Today, Amberley still considers the 2015 appearance a great life accomplishment.
In 2017, seven years after her accident, Amberley made history by becoming the first person with a disability to compete at the WNFR. When the production team first approached her, she turned them down. She felt that she and her family had already lived through it, which would be hard to relive. However, she later changed her mind when she realized how many people she would be encouraging in the process of the film.
Amberley Snyder was part of the movie, performing the post-crash stunts, while her younger sister, Autumn, did all the pre-crash stunts. Autumn was the best double because they have similar riding styles and looks. Spencer Locke portrays the barrel racing champion in the movie. Amberley\’s story is one of courage and determination.
Against all odds, she fought her way back to barrel racing. Her story is an inspiration to us all. No matter what life throws our way, we can overcome it if we have the courage and determination to do so. Walk. Ride. Rodeo is a must-watch for all horse lovers. The movie has a 6.4 IMDb rating and is available on Netflix.
- Amberley Snyder does all the post-crash stunts on her horse, Power. The pre-crash riding stunts are performed by her sister, Autumn. Using her sister was the most straightforward option since they look alike and have the same riding style.
- Amberley Snyder had turned down the idea of a movie when the movie producers first approached her. However, she later agreed to take the opportunity to touch lives worldwide. She felt that she could give hope to people in her condition.
- The movie opened up Amberley Snyder\’s condition to the world. After discovering Snyder through the film, BioXcellerator invited the barrel racer to their Colombian institute to treat her lower back. While no patients are yet to walk, stem cell treatment has helped improve their conditions.
Amberley visited the institute and stated that she was impressed by the staff\’s knowledge and research on stem cell therapy. She added that she believes they\’ll soon make technology to treat spinal cord injuries to help patients walk again.
- She is the first ever to compete at the WNFR with a disability.
- Snyder acted out all stunts post-crash to give the movie uniqueness and authenticity.
- The Champion used her horse, Power, an American Quarterhorse gelding, to do the on-set stunts.
- Apart from barrel racing, Snyder is also a motivational speaker. She uses her experience to impact and inspire those she talks to.
Dreamer is a must-watch film for all horse lovers and has quite the backstory. The movie director and writer, John Gatins, was in Kentucky doing research for the film when he spoke to a vet. The veterinarian gave Gatins the tale of Mariah Storm, a racehorse that made a remarkable comeback after a serious injury. The movie became loosely inspired by the mare.
Dreamer is an acclaimed Critic\’s Choice Award nominee that makes for a great family movie since it has several teachable moments. The Dreamworks production is shot in Lexington, Kentucky. After a horse is injured at the racetrack, Ben Crane, a horse trainer, decides to help her through her recovery.
With his young daughter, Cale, Crane succeeds in assisting the racehorse in making a remarkable comeback in her first race after injury, the Breeder\’s Cup Classic. The movie is rated 6.8 by IMDb and is available on Netflix and Hulu.
- The movie depicts the real-life story of Mariah Storm, a bay Thoroughbred mare born from elite bloodlines.
- Dakota Fanning, who played the horse trainer\’s daughter, Cale, acquired the role even though it was initially supposed to be played by a boy. Directors changed the acting role specifically to feature Dakota Fanning. It was even revealed that her original scripts still referred to the character as a boy.
- The name of the horse portraying Mariah Storm, Sonador, translates to Dreamer in English.
- Warner Bros. and Paramount Pictures both turned down the DreamWorks Pictures film.
- The writers use the names of real-life thoroughbreds. In the movie, Cale and her dad, Ben Crane, visit Ashford Stud to see some of their studs. They see several stallions, including Giant\’s Causeway, Grand Slam, Fusaichi Pegasus, and Johannesburg. However, they only use their names and not the actual horses but stand-ins.
- After filming the movie, Kurt Russel bought Dakota Fanning the horse she rode while filming. Fanning named the horse Goldie partly because the horse has a palomino coat colour and because of Russell\’s longtime life partner, Goldie Hawn.
Mariah Storm is why Dreamer turned out the way it did, and while the movie is only loosely based, everything worked out to make the film a hit. Discover fascinating facts about the racehorse.
- Mariah Storm has exceptional bloodlines, being the daughter of Rahy, an essential sire that gave the world superstars like Fantastic Light, Dreaming of Anna, and Noverre.
- Mariah broke a bone at the Keeneland Racecourse, a venue used during the movie.
- Mariah made a comeback despite the career-ending injury and won the Falls City Handicap, Arlington Matron Stakes, Arlington Oaks, and Turfway Breeders\’ Cup Stakes. She also competed in the Breeders\’ Cup Distaff but finished ninth out of ten racehorses.
- The storm became a successful broodmare, producing great racehorses like Giant\’s Causeway.
Hildago is a western horse film that tells the tale of Frank Hopkin\’s endurance race of 1891. Frank and Hildago, his mustang, are named the best long-distance horse and rider worldwide at the Buffalo Bill Wild West Show. After hearing the claim, an Arab Sheik challenges them to come for a race an ocean away. With prize money involved, Frank decides to take on the 3000-mile-long horse race across the cruel Arabian desert.
In the race, the best-known long-distance pair not only have to overcome the great Arabian racehorses but the prejudice, elements, injury, and exhaustion.
Without giving too much away, we add that Hildago is rated 6.7 on IMDb and is available on various platforms, including Roku TV and Disney+.
- Viggo Mortensen, who played Frank Hopkins in the movie, bought one of the horses that played Hildago. RH Tecontender, or TJ, was the main horse playing Hildago in the film. Mortensen became a fan of the stallion throughout the film and decided to bring him back with him to New Zealand. TJ was a paint horse.
- A total of five paint horses registered with America\’s Pain Horse Association were used in the film. The horses were RH Tecontender (TJ), Impressivelybetter (Oscar), Ima Stage Mount Two (Doc), Honky Tonkin Tuff (DC), and RJ Masterbug (RJ). They were all trained on specific scenarios, and they executed them perfectly.
For instance, Oscar did the racing and jumping scenes while DC did the running long-shot scenes. TJ, the leading horse, did more tight shots, and Doc did well in multiple action-packed scenes
- Virgo Mortensen did the majority of his stunts and riding. He did everything you can imagine, including riding bareback, jumping on a galloping horse, and falling off.
Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron is an iconic animated film that captures the nature of America\’s West through the adventures of a wild Mustang. The film was nominated for the coveted Academy Award for Best Animated Feature and has earned upwards of $123 million. The DreamWorks production successfully helps introduce a new opinion on the horses found in the American Wild West. Spirit fights to remain free in this action-packed adventure guaranteed to keep you on the edge of your seat.
His life story includes his capture by a nefarious sheriff and his escape facilitated by a Lakota Indian. Guidance from the Indian\’s mare will ultimately help him take him home. Enjoy watching this movie on Now TV and Peacock today.
- There was a real-world version of Spirit since Dreamworks felt they needed a model to help understand horses. For instance, things like mannerisms.
- While Rain is an animated horse, she is a registered paint horse. This is because the horse represents the breed\’s standards.
- Cimarron is a Spanish word that translates to \”wild horse\” in English. The name is used to point to Spirit. While Mustangs aren\’t truly wild horses, they are feral to some point. It can also be argued that being in the wild for so long made Spirit a wild animal.
Just like in the case of Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron, war horse is about taking a glimpse at a certain period. However, instead of looking at the American Wild West, the film looks at World War 1 from a horse\’s perspective. The film tells a story of tenacity, loyalty, and the love between man and horse. The storyline makes it an insightful account recommended to every horse lover.
The Steven Speilberg motion picture was voted among America\’s Film Institute\’s best top ten films that year. The film was also nominated among a few others for six different Academy Awards, such as Best Picture. It was also nominated for two Golden Globes and five British Academy Film Awards.
The movie is about Joey, a great bay Thoroughbred that was taken to World War 1 as a cavalry horse. He leaves his owner heartbroken and departs with the army.
Joey encounters different people and obstacles during his service as the war continues. The film has a 7.2 IMDb rating and is available on Hulu.
- The movie\’s lead actor, Jeremy Irvine, hadn\’t ever ridden a horse before being cast.
- Fourteen horses played the role of Joey, the war horse. While there were different horses, Finder\’s Key was the leading actor. He is a 15.2-hand thoroughbred retired racehorse and was the most suited for his spirited nature seen in various crucial scenes. Finder\’s Key also portrayed Seabiscuit in 2003 about the great American racehorse.
- Everything on the screen happened. Steven Speilberg was proud of the minimal use of CGI throughout the film. They only used the technique in three specific and short scenes for the safety of the horses.
- The horses used in the War Horse Movie were also used in Free Rein. Steven Dent Stunts\’ Stables were said to provide a variety of professionally trained horses, minimizing chances of injury even in the spookiest of scenes.
Produced by Cindy Meehl, the film is a documentary about a real horse whisperer called Buck Brannaman. The man had worked as the lead consultant on The Horse Whisperer, a fictional movie by Robert Redford. Brannaman believes in using techniques that utilize sensitivity and leadership, instead of the traditional punishment methods. The film is choke full of great entertainment for horse enthusiasts and lovers. It even won an audience award at Sundance.
The documentary follows Buck around as he travels to work with people that need his help in bonding with and training their horses. It also shows as he attends clinics where he teaches people a kinder and more humane way of developing unbreakable bonds with their horses.
- Cindy Meehl had never worked on a film before asking Buck Brannman to allow her to document his work.
- The movie\’s producer, Cindy, thought the idea of a documentary was the best way to accurately capture Brannaman\’s work.
- Buck was sold on the idea almost immediately. Cindy Meehl used her mutual friend, renowned horse trainer, Vern, to approach Brannaman with the idea. Vern went on and on about how great the idea was and what it meant for the horse whisperer. At one point, Buck had to stop Vern from talking anymore because he was already sold.
The Horse Whisperer is among the classic & greatest horse movies that ended in the 20th Century. It was based on a 1995 novel written by Nicholas Evans. Its director, Robert Redford also starred in the film as a horse trainer, famously knowns as the horse whisperer. The movie is about a young girl and her horse who get in an accident at the start of the film.
The accident claims the life of her friend and her horse. The girl, Grace, has to live as a partial amputee and her horse named Pilgrim is left traumatized. Determined to help the pair heal, Annie, Grace\’s mother takes them to Montana Ranch to meet Tom Booker, played by Robert Redford. The trainer helps the girl and her horse recover.
The chemistry between the horse and the girl makes this a wholesome family movie that you can enjoy. In its day, the classic movie was nominated for an Academy Award, and two Golden Globe Awards and grossed about $187 million worldwide at the box office. It\’s rated 6.7 on IMDb. Unfortunately, you can\’t find the movie on any streaming service. However, it\’s available for purchase or rent on Amazon.
- Robert Redford Acted in and Directed the movie. He plays the role of Tom Booker, the horse trainer.
- Pilgrim, Grace\’s horse, is a morgan horse. The Morgan breed is among the first developed in the US. This breed is relatively small with fine features. It can be found commonly in the bay, black, chestnut, and any other colour.
- Buck Brannaman, the lead star in the documentary \”Buck\” inspired Robert\’s character, Tom Booker. When he was writing the novel, Nicholas Evans didn\’t know much about horses and required the guidance of some horse masters, including Tom Dorrance, Buck Brannaman, and Ray Hunt.
- The Horse Whisperer movie is based on a best-selling novel by Nicholas Evans. While the movie mostly sticks to the plot of the novel, the director took some liberties. For instance, the ending is different between the novel and the movie.
National Velvet is one of the best horse movies of all time and it stars a very young Elizabeth Taylor. The film was released in 1944, and it was based on the novel, National Velvet by Enid Bagnold. The movie is about a young girl who dreams of winning the Grand National Steeplechase Event. With the help of a former jockey, she enters the race and competes against grown men.
National Velvet is an inspiring film that won two Oscars in 1945. It was also nominated for three other Oscars. It\’s rated a solid 7.3 on IMDb and is available for watching on Prime Video.
- King Charles, the horse that played The Pie, is the grandsire to Man O\’ War. This connection makes him a direct cousin to Seabiscuit, another great horse.
- Elizabeth Taylor did her own riding scenes on set. This was because she was confident in riding King Charles after all the training hours. Unfortunately, she broke her back during a scene. She did recover quickly but the injury haunted her later in life.
- King Charles, the lead horse was a pain to work with for everyone except Elizabeth. It\’s reported that he would bite crew members and once seriously injured a trainer who worked with him during the film.
- After production, Elizabeth Taylor was gifted her equine co-star, King Charles. The horse lived in the Pacific Palisades, California where Taylor would visit and ride him.