Horse Movies I Actually Like – Fiction

Wild Hearts Can’t Be Broken

I know that actual horse diving was abusive and terrible, but I love this movie. It was probably one of my favorites as a kid and I watched it rather endlessly. I might have memorized it. I actually haven’t seen it in years so it’s possible my memories are altered by time.

The Man From Snowy River

The scene where Jim jumps off the cliff and gallops down the hill is worth watching the entire movie for. Seriously. The acting isn’t great, but the story is enjoyable and the horsemanship is excellent. There’s also some very pretty scenery to be admired with a minimal amount of excess whinnying and other annoying horse movie tropes.

Seabiscuit

I’m a little iffy on this one. The movie itself is good; it’s one of the few horse movies I know with decent acting and real production value. It was even nominated for a bunch of Oscars. However, the enjoyable parts of the movie are really the non horse parts. When it comes to actual horse scenes, this movie pulls out all the tired horse movie nonsense that frustrates actual equestrians: lots of neighing, the horse is basically a dog, etc. I did really enjoy the book, but again, it’s more of a history book than a horse book; Seabiscuit is really just a central character around which the story of the American depression is told.

Spirit

I honestly can’t tell you why I like this movie. It goes out of it’s way to fulfill all of the horse movie tropes that real horse people hate. They made a decision to have the horses not talk despite it being an animated film and then decided to have them whinny and nicker to each other endlessly. It’s awfully annoying. However, I remember following the making of the film before it came out and Dreamworks bought a real Mustang and had their artists actually study how horses move. I saw some interviews talking about just how difficult it was to animate horses and how they set out to do it correctly. While the horses talk to much and act like dogs, they at least move like horses. I’ve seen Spirit a bunch of times and enjoy it despite itself.

Black Beauty (1994)

I actually really like the original Black Beauty novel, which a lot of horse people I’ve met have never read. The book is definitely better than the movie, but this film version is a fairly accurate adaptation. I don’t rewatch this movie often though because it’s very sad. I can watch a million “sad movies” where people die and be fine, but horses (or dogs) dying gets me every time.

I definitely like horse documentaries a lot more than horse movies, but these are the best of the horse movies for me. What’s your favorite? Anything I’m missing here? Let me know in the comments if you have recommendations.

43 thoughts on “Horse Movies I Actually Like – Fiction

  1. Teresa

    I haven’t seen Wild Hearts but have seen all the others and agree. I wanted to watch Warhorse but then decided that I couldn’t handle it. I remember a movie called ‘Sylvester’? with Melissa Gilbert. I remember liking it despite the unlikelihood of it being remotely possible.

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  2. Sara

    I’ve watched Spirit a million times because of Wyatt and mostly enjoy it. I always figure with animation that reality gets suspended so I’m fine with the whinnying and such.

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  3. Lisa Goodwin

    I absolutely LOVE Wild Hearts Can’t Be Broken. This is my most favorite “horse” movie. I do agree that the actual practice of diving horses seems like it was cruel and abusive, but I do love this movie!

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    1. Olivia Post author

      Yes. That scene really annoys me. They really tried to appeal to a mass market with the movie and figured dog behaviors would resonate. That said, I do have a video of my horse goofball horse drinking like this once…

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  4. Saiph

    These. All of these! I too read the Black Beauty book. I only saw this Black Beauty movie once precisely because it came close enough to the book to make it as sad as the original story. I did love The Black Stallion movie as a kid, mainly because of Alex’s “taming” of the Black on the beach scenes. I have yet to re-watch it as an adult though.

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  5. Stacie Seidman

    Oh man Black Beauty (the book) was rough to get through. It’s a fantastic story, but SO sad. I don’t remember if I’ve seen the movie actually.
    I have to second the horse in the gray flannel suit! Classic!

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    1. Olivia Post author

      Black Beauty was written to be a muckraker. She wanted it to be harsh because she wanted people to stop treating horses cruelly. It’s good, but man does it hurt to read.

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  6. SprinklerBandits

    Um possibly have been hardcore marathoning Burn Notice lately so it completely blew my mind to see young Fiona in WHCBB. I saw that movie as a kid. Now I kinda want to rewatch it as an adult.

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  7. Betsy in WI

    Casey’s Shadow. Stars Walter Matthau and set in the world of QH bush track racing. Hard to find, but worth it.

    Phar Lap and Champions are also good. And National Velvet! but the book of that was way better.

    I also liked The Electric Horseman (Redford/Fonda) but the horse is a little bit incidental to the romance.

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    1. Olivia Post author

      I forgot that National Velvet was a book first. I think I read that as a kid, but now I can’t remember. I like the idea of the movie, but Elizabeth Taylor annoys me. I know it’s just a style of movies and acting at that time, but it makes it hard for me to enjoy the movie. I’ll check out the Casey’s Shadow if I can find it.

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  8. Alanna McPartlin

    Wild Hearts Can’t Be Broken is a great movie! I also like National Velvet, Hidalgo, War Horse, and Horse in the Gray Flannel Suit (as mentioned above).

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  9. Val

    The Black Stallion is my all-time favorite. I loved WHCBB, too.

    I saw Sylvester once, a very long time ago. There was actually a dressage scene and it was nice to see a movie that didn’t focus on racing.

    National Velvet was good, but agree about the acting being annoying. I just love that she canters around pretending to be a horse.

    Black Beauty is too sad to rewatch. War Horse the movie was DREADFUL, but War Horse the play was magical and unbelievably good.

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  10. Judith Daly

    The Black Stallion will always be my favorite. I saw it in the theater as a kid, and we liked it so much, that we stayed to watch it again. All fantasy, but of a good sort.

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    1. Olivia Post author

      This is really one I need to rewatch because I know I saw it as a kid, but I really cannot remember more of it than the boat and beach scenes.

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  11. Stubborn Together

    These are some of my favorites but I agree that The Black Stallion is one of my very favorite movies of all time. Not only is it a good horse movie, it’s just an amazing movie movie and the score is fantastic.

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  12. Brianna

    Wild Hearts Can’t Be Broken is one of my all time favorites, too. I haven’t see it in forever, but now I definitely want to go look for it, lol

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    1. Olivia Post author

      I haven’t seen it in forever either. I keep debating leaving it as I love it in my mind or risking hating it on re-watch. It might still be good, but some of my childhood favorites have not stood up to today.

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  13. SpanishWalk (Karen)

    I loved all of these movies as well! Add to my list is The Last Unicorn (even if she wasn’t really a horse). I stopped watching The Man From Snowy River after I learned the cliff scene killed their first stunt horse and they used it to film the dead horse scene (very practical, really). Also, Pippy Longstocking!

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    1. Olivia Post author

      I love the last unicorn too, but I didn’t include it since it’s not really a horse or about horses. I think the killed horse from The Man From Snowy River was debunked, but it seems hard to know for sure.

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  14. Amanda

    Wild Hearts Can’t Be Broken is the best horse movie of all time, I will accept no counter-argument. It does hold up to adult watching, if you’re curious.

    Seabiscuit suffered from a too-faithful interpretation of the book; it couldn’t decide on its main plot, and didn’t have the several hundred pages of text to explore all possibilities.

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    1. Olivia Post author

      Good to know that I can rewatch WHCBB sometime. I liked all the sidetracks in the book so the movie is definitely less interesting for lacking them.

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