Last updated: November 29, 2023
Are you ready for an exciting journey through the world of horse movies? I put together a list of our family’s favorite horse movies for kids and adults. Top picks include Warhorse, Casey’s Shadow, Walk. Ride. Rodeo., Man from Snowy River, and Dreamer, each packed with fun, adventure, and lessons about courage, hard work, and kindness.
So, what makes me an expert on horse movies? Well, as a father and grandfather of horse enthusiasts, I’ve spent over half a century engrossed in equine cinema. We’ve watched thousands of horse movies together, some so many times that I can recite lines by heart, especially from Warhorse.
Are you ready to embark on this cinematic horse ride, movie lovers? With this carefully chosen list of the best horse movies, I guarantee you’ll discover a fresh favorite or rekindle your love for an old one. So grab your popcorn, saddle up, and let’s get started.
Summary of the Top 11 Horse Movies for Kids and Adults
- Summary: An epic tale of a young man and his horse separated during World War I.
- Family Appeal: Showcases themes of perseverance, loyalty, and the unbreakable bond between a boy and his horse.
- Casey’s Shadow
- Overview: Focuses on a young boy’s bond with a racehorse and his family’s struggles.
- Unique Appeal: Highlights the importance of family and pursuing dreams against all odds.
- Description: A heartwarming story about a girl who rehabilitates an injured racehorse.
- Key Lessons: Emphasizes hope, healing, and achieving the impossible through dedication and love.
- Walk. Ride. Rodeo.
- Summary: It is based on the true story of a rodeo rider who overcomes a devastating accident.
- Family Appeal: Inspirational and about overcoming adversity, perfect for teaching resilience.
- The Man From Snowy River
- Overview: An Australian adventure film about a young man proving himself in a rugged landscape.
- Unique Appeal: Offers breathtaking scenery and a classic tale of courage and determination.
- All the Pretty Horses
- Description: A story of romance and adventure across the Mexican border.
- Key Lessons: Explores themes of freedom, love, and the harsh realities of life.
- Racing Stripes
- Summary: A unique tale of a zebra who dreams of being a racehorse.
- Family Appeal: Fun and humorous, this movie teaches about embracing uniqueness and following dreams.
- Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron
- Overview: An animated story from the perspective of a wild horse.
- Unique Appeal: Combines stunning animation with a moving story about freedom and survival.
- Description: The true story of an underdog racehorse that became a symbol of hope.
- Key Lessons: Highlights the themes of perseverance and triumph in the face of adversity.
- Phar Lap
- Summary: Chronicles the career of the legendary Australian racehorse Phar Lap.
- Family Appeal: A touching story that shows the deep connection between a horse and its trainer.
- Overview: An American cowboy competes in a deadly cross-desert horse race.
- Unique Appeal: A thrilling adventure that combines action with a story of cultural discovery and respect.
Reviews of Top 11 Horse Movies for Kids and Adults
Warhorse is a cinematic gem that has enchanted our family time and again. Directed by the legendary Steven Spielberg, it masterfully captures a range of raw emotions, presenting them in a way that truly resonates with viewers. Among the multitude of horse movies I’ve seen, Warhorse holds a special place, offering an exceptional combination of breathtaking landscapes, an enthralling narrative, high-octane action, poignant sorrow, and a love that withstands the test of time.
The heart of the movie lies in the bond between Albert, a young man, and Joey, a Thoroughbred born under an unlucky star. Their friendship takes a dramatic turn when Albert, compelled by duty, joins the military to serve in World War I, and Joey is enlisted into the war effort as well.
The movie then follows their parallel journeys through the chaos and uncertainty of war. Albert, amidst the horrors of the battlefield, clings to the memories of his loyal friend, while Joey, caught in the clutches of war, exhibits bravery that belies his humble beginnings. Despite the harrowing circumstances, their unwavering loyalty to each other shines through, providing a poignant commentary on the power of friendship and loyalty.
Two scenes that profoundly move us are Albert and Joey’s triumphant endeavor to plow a rocky field, and the emotionally loaded auction towards the end of the movie. These moments, among others, are Spielberg’s testament to the resilience of the human and animal spirit, even in the face of immense adversity.
Warhorse, with its compelling narrative and unforgettable characters, is a cinematic tour de force that beautifully encapsulates the extraordinary bond between a boy and his horse. Their shared experiences, especially during their service in the war, make it an unmissable treasure for any movie lover.
2. Casey’s Shadow
“Casey’s Shadow” is a film that resonates deeply with us, not just because it’s based on the true story of Rocket’s Magic and the Romero brothers, but also due to our personal connections to the story and its Louisiana roots. The Romero brothers are not just characters on screen for us; one of them recently saddled my horse for a race. Our ties to the film extend further, with a friend playing a part as a horse handler and another showcasing his skills as a jockey.
The movie, filmed in the heart of Carencro, Louisiana, paints an inspiring picture of Rocket’s Magic journey to the prestigious American Quarter Horse All-American Futurity. “Casey’s Shadow” is a delightful blend of inspiration and humor, securing its spot as one of the funniest horse movies on our list. A scene that never fails to amuse the kids is the hilarious chicken racing on a pony.
Walter Matthau breathes life into the character of the gruff, beer-loving father, delivering a performance so authentic that it’s hard to separate the actor from the role. In essence, “Casey’s Shadow” is more than just a movie to us; it’s a piece of our own story, interwoven with familiar faces and places, making every viewing a uniquely personal experience.
Here is a YouTube video of the great chicken race.
3. Walk. Ride. Rodeo.
“Walk. Ride. Rodeo” holds a special place in my granddaughter’s collection of favorite horse movies, and for good reason. This film is a poignant recounting of a true story that strikes a balance between heartbreaking tragedy and uplifting triumph. It traces the life of Amberley Snyder, a fiercely ambitious teenager and top barrel racer who dreams of reigning supreme in the world of rodeo.
In a dramatic turn of events, Amberley suffers a life-altering spinal injury in a car accident, shattering her dreams and casting a cloud of uncertainty over her future. This movie takes you on an emotional roller-coaster as it explores her grueling journey toward recovery – both physically and emotionally.
What makes this movie a standout is Amberley’s indomitable spirit. Despite her paralysis, she tenaciously battles her way back into the saddle to once again compete in the sport she holds dear. While the movie does have its flaws, Amberley Snyder’s story is an absolute must-see for horse movie enthusiasts and, indeed, anyone who appreciates tales of resilience.
“Walk. Ride. Rodeo” is not just a movie – it’s an inspiration, a testament to the incredible strength that lies within us when we refuse to give in to adversity. It’s a vivid reminder that when we persevere, even the most daunting obstacles can be overcome.
4. The Man From Snowy River
The Man from Snowy River is a movie that enchants us every time, courtesy of its awe-inspiring Australian landscapes, the exhilarating sight of wild horses, and heart-stopping horse riding sequences. The movie revolves around Will, a young man who inherits his father’s ranch in the heart of Australia. As he takes the reins of the family legacy, he faces skepticism from locals who doubt his ability to manage the demanding land.
However, it’s not all about grueling ranch work. The plot thickens as Will falls head over heels for a wealthy man’s daughter and embarks on a daring mission to capture a majestic wild stallion. These twists add a delightful blend of romance and adventure to the rustic ranch setting.
The Man from Snowy River is a quintessential family film, ticking all the boxes for an engaging watch. One scene that particularly stands out is when Will bravely steers his horse down a steep mountain – a thrilling display of fearless riding that never fails to get our pulses racing.
The movie also features Kirk Douglas in dual roles, as both the affluent father of Will’s beloved and her charming uncle. Douglas’ performance is, as always, commendable, though the dual roles add an element of whimsy to the otherwise dramatic narrative. Despite this, his acting prowess shines through, making The Man from Snowy River a movie that’s worth revisiting time and again for its compelling blend of adventure, romance, and the raw charm of the Australian outback.
“Dreamer” is a film that draws inspiration from the remarkable life story of Mariah’s Storm, a champion Thoroughbred mare who defied the odds to return to the racing track after a severe leg injury, even clinching victory at the Breeder’s Cup. This is the kind of extraordinary comeback that makes for captivating cinema. After all, most horses are euthanized after breaking a leg, not visiting the winner’s circle.
The movie does a commendable job of spinning this compelling tale. It introduces us to Soñador, a young mare who suffers a career-threatening leg injury early on. Soñador is brought to the home of her trainer, portrayed by Kurt Russel, marking the start of her recovery journey.
Dakota Fanning, playing Kurt’s daughter, delivers an impressive performance in the lead role, displaying a natural ease around horses. As Soñador heals, a deep bond forms between her and Dakota’s character, symbolizing hope and resilience. Simultaneously, the movie also explores the strengthening of the father-daughter relationship, adding another layer of depth to the narrative.
Adding a personal touch for us, parts of the film were shot in Folsom, Louisiana, a stone’s throw away from our home. It’s fascinating for the kids to recognize local areas featured in the movie. Recently, I had the opportunity to take two of our colts to the horse farm where the movie was filmed. It was an exciting experience to see the house and barns that had been a part of “Dreamer”. Here’s a glimpse of our horses enjoying their time at the farm where this inspiring film was shot:
6. All the Pretty Horses
My personal favorite is “All the Pretty Horses,” a film that has captured the hearts of our entire household. It invites us on a thrilling adventure with three young men as they journey through Mexico on horseback, armed only with some clothing, camping gear, and a gun. This epic tale encapsulates the spirit of youthful exploration, the complexities of foreign encounters, brushes with danger, and the intoxicating allure of first love.
Matt Damon shines in the lead role, delivering a performance as compelling as the storyline itself. He crosses paths with Penelope Cruz, who plays the daughter of a wealthy Mexican with a fleet of aircraft and a herd of wild mustangs waiting to be tamed. This challenge is courageously taken up by Damon’s character, adding another intriguing layer to the plot.
This film embodies everything you’d expect in a classic Western – breathtaking horseback rides, electrifying gunplay, and an enchanting love story. Billy Bob Thornton’s direction infuses the movie with authenticity, making “All the Pretty Horses” a standout in the genre. This captivating cinematic journey is one you wouldn’t want to miss.
7. Racing Stripes
Racing Stripes is an endearing film that spins the tale of a young girl who stumbles upon an abandoned zebra. With a heart full of compassion, she decides to keep the lost creature, transforming her everyday farm into an unexpected home for this unique ‘striped horse’. Her bond with the zebra blossoms, and she soon embarks on a mission to train it to run, setting their sights on the local derby – an audacious goal that flips the traditional horse racing scene on its head.
This charming film doesn’t stop at the unusual zebra-girl duo. It further tickles your imagination by giving voices to the farm animals, resulting in hilarious conversations and side stories that keep the plot lively. However, every story needs its villain, and in this case, it’s the conniving track owner, a woman who adds an exciting dash of drama to the otherwise heartwarming narrative.
Although Racing Stripes walks a predictable path, it’s the journey that makes it truly enjoyable. Young kids are bound to be captivated by its vibrant characters, funny talking animals, and the thrilling race sequences. And let’s not forget the fun it offers – it’s a delightful romp from start to finish. An entertaining watch for the whole family, Racing Stripes serves as a delightful reminder that even the most unlikely contenders can become champions with a little bit of love, faith, and, of course, plenty of stripes!
8. Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron
“Spirit” has become as beloved in our household as iconic characters like Barney and Elmo once were. This film and its spin-off have graced our screen more times than I can count. It’s a heartwarming horse story that the kids never seem to tire of, even though I must admit, I wouldn’t mind a change of scene.
“Spirit” spins a captivating tale of a stallion living in blissful freedom on the open range until the day the U.S. Cavalry captures him. Despite their persistent efforts, they fail to crush his indomitable spirit. His journey takes a turn when a young Indian brave helps him escape, ushering in a ride to freedom that’s as inspiring as it is thrilling.
The movie treats us to riveting chase scenes on horseback and an impressively animated train wreck, making it a visual spectacle. What sets this animated feature apart is that, unlike in many others, the horse doesn’t talk. Instead, the story is told through his actions and expressions, adding a touch of realism to the fantasy. “Spirit” is an excellent film that strikes a chord with both adults and kids, making it a perfect family watch.
“Seabiscuit” is a remarkable film that traces the unlikely journey of a racehorse from being a lowly claimer to a national champion. With a well-crafted storyline and top-notch performances, it’s no surprise that the film earned seven Academy Award nominations.
Set against the backdrop of the Great Depression, “Seabiscuit” emerged as a beacon of hope when people needed a hero. He proved himself on the racetrack, outrunning every competitor that dared to challenge him. But the film isn’t just about the horse. It also shines a light on the owner, trainer, and jockey, portraying the synergy they shared in Seabiscuit’s journey to fame.
The movie reaches a thrilling climax with a high-stakes match race between War Admiral, the esteemed East Coast thoroughbred, and Seabiscuit, the scrappy underdog. The odds were stacked against Seabiscuit, and as if that wasn’t enough, an unexpected setback hit the team, further diminishing their chances.
What happens next? Will Seabiscuit defy the odds and emerge victorious? You’ll have to watch this unforgettable movie to find out.
10. Phar Lap
“Phar Lap” stands unparalleled as the finest horse racing movie ever made. This engaging film is rooted in the true story of a racehorse that embarked on an extraordinary journey, carving its unique trail in the annals of horse racing history. It’s hard to find an Australian horse more dominant than Phar Lap was, commanding the racing scene in the 1930s with unrivaled prowess.
Despite his overwhelming victories, Phar Lap never wore the mantle of a champion. However, this in no way diminished his legend. The director brilliantly captures Phar Lap’s fascinating saga, rendering it on the screen with a finesse that makes his story truly come alive.
The performances in the movie are commendable, with the actors skillfully embodying their characters. The film doesn’t merely provide a window into the exhilarating world of horse racing, but it also masterfully portrays the profound bond shared between a horse and his human companions. This dynamic is explored in a refreshingly authentic way, making the viewers feel deeply invested in their journey.
From the opening scene to the climactic end, “Phar Lap” is an outstanding film that showcases the thrilling spectacle of horse racing, coupled with the touching narrative of a legendary horse and the people in his life. It’s a movie that will captivate you, leaving you inspired and deeply moved by the remarkable tale of this extraordinary horse.
“Hidalgo” spins the captivating tale of the legendary endurance rider, Frank T. Hopkins, and his loyal horse, Hidalgo. The pair were famous in Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show, known far and wide as the “world’s greatest endurance horse and rider.”
However, their claim to fame is challenged one day. Frank is given an ultimatum: either stop boasting about their endurance prowess or prove it in the world’s most grueling endurance race, the “Ocean of Fire.” This race is no small feat—it’s a brutal 3,000-mile trek across the punishing terrain of the Najd desert.
With unyielding determination, Frank accepts the daunting challenge. Along with Hidalgo, he embarks on this arduous journey across the desert. The movie traces their thrilling exploits and the countless hardships they face in the race. Despite the daunting obstacles and rampant prejudice, they rise to every challenge, their spirit indomitable.
The film is replete with drama, with a colorful array of unsavory characters, intriguing women, and high-stakes encounters adding layers of complexity to their journey. But at its heart, “Hidalgo” remains a film that celebrates the love between a man and his horse, their shared adventures, and their unbreakable bond.
“Hidalgo” is a delightful film that effortlessly combines excitement, humor, and heartfelt moments. It’s a captivating tale that will entertain viewers of all ages, making it an ideal pick for a fun-filled family movie night. So sit back, relax, and let Frank and Hidalgo take you on an unforgettable adventure across the vast desert landscapes.
Why These Movies Are Must-Watches
These horse movies are more than just entertainment; they’re journeys that touch our hearts and teach us valuable lessons. Each story is a rich tapestry of emotions, from the thrilling highs of victory to the touching moments of connection between humans and horses. They capture the essence of perseverance, showing us that with determination and hard work, any obstacle can be overcome.
The positive messages these films convey are timeless. They teach us about empathy – understanding and feeling the emotions of both the human and equine characters. They showcase the importance of kindness, not just towards animals but also among people. These movies often depict characters who face tough challenges, yet their resilience and courage inspire us to face our own struggles with a similar spirit.
Furthermore, these films are tools for learning. Through their narratives, they introduce viewers, especially younger audiences, to important life values. Lessons about trust, friendship, loyalty, and the importance of following one’s dreams are woven into the plots. Watching these movies can be a shared experience for families, opening up conversations about these themes and helping to instill these values in a relatable and engaging way.
And There’s the Finish Line!
So there you have it, our roundup of the 11 best horse movies for all ages. Each of these films offers a unique blend of fun, excitement, and heartwarming lessons, making them perfect for family movie nights or solo viewing. Whether you’re a horse enthusiast, a movie buff, or simply someone who appreciates a good story, these films are sure to gallop their way into your heart.
Remember, the magic of these movies lies in their ability to entertain, inspire, and teach us valuable life lessons – all while making us laugh, cry, and cheer in equal measure. As a long-standing fan, I can assure you that these horse movies will continue to be cherished in our family for generations to come, and I hope they will find a special place in yours, too.
So go ahead, saddle up, and dive into these cinematic gems. Whether you’re reliving fond memories or making new ones, one thing is for sure – you’re in for a memorable ride. Happy viewing!
What are some good online horse games?
There is a mix of horse games available online, and the best one for you depends on what you’re looking for in a game. Some popular horse-racing games include Rival Stars Horse Racing and Photo Finish. If you’re more interested in taking care of horses than racing them, try Star Stable.
What are the most popular horse tv shows for kids?
“Spirit Riding Free” and “Free Rein” are two of the most popular horse TV shows for kids. Both series, available on Netflix, center around strong female leads who form deep bonds with horses, embark on thrilling adventures and learn valuable life lessons about friendship, responsibility, and personal growth.
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Meet Miles Henry
An avid equestrian and seasoned racehorse owner, Miles Henry brings his extensive experience to the equine world, proudly associating with the AQHA, The Jockey Club, and various other equine organizations. Beyond the racetrack, Miles is an accomplished author, having published various books about horses, and is a recognized authority in the field, with his work cited in multiple publications.
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