Horse Movies I Actually Like – Documentaries

After my review of The Horse Dancer, I ordered Horse Camp, which in the few minutes I watched looks like it is – somewhat miraculously – even worse than The Horse Dancer. However, my library copy does not appear to have closed captioning, which helps me put together my post, so the full review is on standby barring technical difficulties.

In the meantime, I thought I’d talk about Horse Movies (yes I feel like this is a category and therefore due capitalization) that I actually recommend. This post is for documentaries. I’ll do a follow up post about fiction movies tomorrow.

Buck

This movie won a bunch of awards after it debuted at Sundance and was shown nationally in theaters so it’s probably familiar to anyone reading this blog. I love documentaries and this is a good one even outside of the horses. Buck’s personally story is both interesting and sad. His history and the history of how horses were trained in the past is juxtaposed with his modern day clinics and the stories that emerge from there. This is one of those movies that horse people can watch and not wince at fake horse movie tropes. Buck is a true horseman and the film is clearly made by people who actually understand horses as well.

Unbranded

This is another award winning film that’s market extends well beyond the usual horse lover audience. It’s the story of 4 guys who adopt 12 Mustangs and ride them from the Mexican border to the Canadian border. I first saw this film 2+ years ago, and I still have conflicting feelings about it. The four guys are a bit of typical rough neck cowboys and some of the Mustangs get injured due to their stupidity. And I’m not okay with that. But they do try to take good care of the horses and there are moments where you can tell they truly care for the horses. The director and leader in the film, Ben Masters, has gone on to write about Mustangs for National Geographic and he truly seems to be an advocate for Mustangs. Finally, if for nothing else, watch this movie for the cinematography. I don’t think you can finish this film without wishing you could quit your job tomorrow and ride through the American west.

Harry and Snowman

Although I do think the book is better than the movie, the movie is still quite enjoyable. It’s a little cheesy with some of the interviews and storytelling. They certainly play up the poor guy with his cheap plow horse beating out the rich people angle, but at least it’s true. Watching actual footage of Harry and Snowman competing and winning and then swimming with the kids is really enjoyable. Hearing Harry’s voice break when he talks about Snowman is a kick in the gut. I’d highly recommend reading the book first. Either way, go into this movie knowing it’s going to hit you in the feels.

Wild Horse, Wild Ride

I don’t know why 2 out of the 4 movies I have to recommend here are about Mustangs, but if I had to guess it’s part because Mustangs capture the heart of Americans as a whole and not just horse lovers so more movies get made about them. Or maybe it’s because I’m drawn to these movies? Wild Horse, Wild Ride is a documentary following trainers as they train Mustangs for Extreme Mustang Makeover. Some of the trainers are better than others. And I don’t just mean in terms of training ability. There are trainers who achieve amazing things with their Mustangs in 90 days and still make me want to punch them in the face. There are also amateurs that do a great job. Others make you want to cover your eyes and hope they don’t get injured. This documentary can be a little hard to watch because of those issues, but I still enjoyed it. It certainly inspires me to want to try to train a Mustang from scratch one day.

As of today, the first three are available on Netflix, the last is on Youtube or Amazon. Have you seen any of these movies? If so, let me know what you thought in the comments. If you haven’t, I hope you’ll check them out (none of the links here are affiliate links and I get nothing for writing this post; I just genuinely like these movies). Do you have any other horse documentaries to recommend? Let me know. I am always looking for something new to watch.

31 thoughts on “Horse Movies I Actually Like – Documentaries

  1. Teresa

    I loved Buck and have watched it a couple times. I did enjoy Snowman but, like you, preferred the book. I haven’t seen the other two.

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  2. Liz

    I’ve only seen Buck but I’ve read some outstanding reviews of Unbranded and Harry and Snowman. The fourth I’ve never heard of but will absolutely keep my eyes peeled for it on Amazon. I want to read Harry and Snowman first before I watch it is the only reason I haven’t watched yet.

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    1. Olivia Post author

      The book was great. The movie is pretty faithful to the book, but it’s a little bit like a horse movie in that there’s unnecessary amounts of whinnying. I think they went a bit to far in trying to broaden it’s audience. But it’s worth watching. Seeing old school riding is always interesting to me.

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  3. Leah

    I saw the first three, and had some similar feelings. The Harry and snowman book was WAYYYY better, but I did get my husband to watch the movie with me, which was unusual! We also watched Unbranded together — the cinematography was fantastic but I was less than thrilled with the guys and some of the situations/drama.

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    1. Olivia Post author

      If you watch the last one, you could do a whole post on the training methodologies. Some of them are so cringe inducing, while others are just lovely to watch.

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  4. Shauna

    Ive seen the Unbranded and Snowman documentaries and enjoyed both. I think I am one of the few here that preferred the Snowman documentary to the book.

    One documentary you may enjoy is ‘Dark Horse’. It is the true story of the UK racehorse Dream Alliance. It was available on cable in my area. Worth watching. The accents can be a little hard to understand (Welsh).

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    1. Olivia Post author

      I have definitely made my own mistakes so I try not to hold it against them, but some of the people are just painful to watch. Like I spend the whole time worrying.

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  5. Lauren Mauldin

    I’ve seen the last three, and LOVED Buck & Unbranded. Harry & Snowman was a good movie, but I couldn’t get past the feeling that Harry himself was a huge dick to everyone but Snowman and came across really unlikable to me. Not sure if anyone else felt that way or not?

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    1. Olivia Post author

      Yeah, I also got the impressions he was a very old school style trainer and father. It was probably tough being one of his kids.

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  6. Stacie Seidman

    I got to see Buck in a private screening at my favorite horse show. It’s the Skidmore College show, and one of the people working on it was an alum. I thought it was fantastic and have actually been wanting to see it again.
    I haven’t seen any of the others, though Harry and Snowman was already on my list. I read the book and figured the movie couldn’t be as good. They rarely are! Will have to check the others out too. Thanks for the recommendations!

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  7. irishhorse

    I haven’t seen Wild Horses, Wild Ride, and I liked Buck and Snowman. But I have to say that I could barely get through Unbranded, only because a couple of the people I found quite annoying, and the misfortunes are hard to watch (and some I feel could have been avoided). There was much yelling at the TV!

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    1. Olivia Post author

      You might spend a lot more time yelling at the TV during Wild Horses, Wild Ride than for Unbranded. There are some trainers in WHWR that I just want to be like, no, don’t do that.

      Reply

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