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There are a lot of excellent family horse movies. I enjoy all on my list and don’t mind watching them multiple times. Most of the films include a message about hard work, perseverance, and how to treat animals and other people.
My kid’s favorite horse movies are Warhorse, Casey’s Shadow, and Walk. Ride. Rodeo, Man from Snowy River, and Dreamer. They also like many others and I include them in this list.
I have earned my credential to judge horse movies; I am a grandfather and father of horse lovers. I have watched and rewatched thousands of horse movies over the last 50-plus years.
I’ve seen Warhorse so many times I can quote most of Alberts’ lines, but the one we watch most often is Casey’s shadow. Let me clarify, we don’t watch the entire movie each time, but fast forward and watch the chicken racing on a pony scene, over and over.
Rewatching scenes are not unusual at our house; the kids watch, back up, and watch their favorite scenes again. It baffles me that they can do this and laugh as if they’ve never seen it before.
The very best horse movies for the entire family.
Warhorse is a movie everyone in our family enjoys watching, and although we’ve watched it many times, it is still enthralling. Steven Spielberg does a great job capturing emotions and lays them bare on film.
I like most horse movies, but this one is exceptional; it has everything, incredible scenery, great story, action, sorrow, and love. The film aptly develops the relationship between Albert, a young man, and Joey, an unlucky Thoroughbred.
The movie then weaves the harrowing experiences Joey endures after the two are divided and goes off to fight in World War I. Our two favorite scenes are Joey and Albert plowing the field and the second auction towards the movie’s end.
2. Casey’s Shadow
Casey’s Shadow is based on the true story of Rocket’s Magic and the Romero brothers. We live in Louisiana and are familiar with the horse and the Romeros.
In fact, an acquaintance ponies a horse in one scene, and another is a jockey during a race. The movie was shot in Carencro, Louisiana, and tells the story of Rocket’s Magic path to the American Quarter Horse All American Futurity.
Casey’s Shadow is inspiring and one of the funniest horse movies on my list. The kids love the scene of the chicken racing on a pony. Walter Matthau plays the grumpy father who drinks too much beer and looks the part.
Here is a YouTube video of the great chicken race.
3. Walk. Ride. Rodeo.
My granddaughter has a couple of her favorite horse movies on the list, and “Walk. Ride. Rodeo” is one of them. This movie is another based on a true story. It’s heartbreaking and uplifting.
Amberley Snyder was a teenager and top barrel racer with dreams of being the best in the world when she suffered a debilitating spine injury in an automobile accident.
The movie is about her physical and emotional recovery from this heartbreaking accident. Despite being paralyzed, she works hard and gets back in the saddle to compete in the sport she loves.
The movie has flaws, but if you like horse movies, then Amberley Snyder’s story is a must-see. It is inspirational and reveals the power we have inside when we preserve.
4. The Man From Snowy River
We like watching The Man From Snowy River for its breathtaking scenery, wild horses, and fearless riding. Will, the main character, lives in Australia and inherits his father’s ranch.
This is when the trouble starts; the locals believe he is not seasoned enough to work the land. He also falls in love with a rich man’s daughter and captures a wild stallion.
The Man from Snowy River checks all the boxes needed for a fun family movie. Our favorite scenes include the great horseback riding of the main character. In one scene, he rides his horse straight down a mountain.
Kirk Douglas plays dual roles in the movie; he is the rich father of Will’s love interest and the girl’s uncle. He is a great actor, but this was a little corny.
Dreamer is loosely based on the life story of Mariah’s Storm, a champion Thoroughbred mare who broke her leg and came back to win the Breeder Cup. This is stuff movies are made of.
Most horses are euthanized after breaking a leg, not winning races. Dreamer is well made and tells a fascinating story. Soñador breaks a leg early in her career and is taken to its trainer’s home, played by Kurt Russel.
Dakota Fanning plays Kurt’s daughter and does a great job in the lead role, and looks comfortable around horses. A bond develops between Sonador and Dakota while the horse mends. But besides the horse recovering, the bond between father and daughter is also strengthened.
Some parts of the movie were shot in Folsom, Louisiana, which isn’t far from our home, so of course, it’s interesting for the kids to see local areas on the screen. Recently I brought two colts to this horse farm; it was neat to see the house and barns used in the movie.
Here is a picture of our horses at the farm Dreamer was filmed:
6. All the Pretty Horses
All the Pretty Horse is my favorite movie on the list, and everyone else likes it. It’s about the adventures of three young guys riding their horses to Mexico. All they have with them are some clothes, camping gear, and a gun.
The movie is an epic adventure of young men’s exploits traveling to a foreign country, getting in trouble, and falling in love. Matt Damon plays the lead role perfectly.
His love interest is Penelope Cruz, the daughter of a wealthy Mexican with an airplane and a herd of wild mustangs that need to be broken. Matt Damon takes on the task.
This movie has everything you want in a western, horses, gunplay, and a love story. Billy Bob Thorton directed All The Pretty Horses and really hit the mark, don’t miss this fine film.
7. Racing Stripes
Racing Stripes is a cute movie about a girl that finds an abandoned Zebra. She wants to keep the animal as a pet and brings it to her farm. She trains the zebra to run and enters it into the local derby.
In the movie, the farm animals talk, and the track owner is an evil woman. The film is predictable, but the young kids like it, and it is a fun movie.
8. Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron
Spirit is as popular at our house as Barney or Elmo were in their heydays. I’ve watched this and the spin-off countless times. But the movie is a good horse movie, and I’m glad the kids enjoy it, but I’m just about ready for them to move on to something else.
Spirit is the story of a stallion living free on the open range until one day, the U.S. Cavalry captures him. They unsuccessfully try to break his spirit, until one day he is freed by a young Indian brave and ridden to freedom.
The movie has some great chase scenes on horseback and a fantastic train wreck. The film is animated, but the horse doesn’t talk as they do in many others. Overall this is an excellent movie for adults and kids.
Seabiscuit is a great movie; it follows the rise of a racehorse from a cheap claimer to a champion. The story is well developed, and the acting is first-rate. The film was nominated for seven Academy Awards.
During the Great Depression, people needed a hero, and Seabiscuit stepped up to the call. He took on all comers and ran them down. The movie also is about his owner, trainer, and jockey and how they all worked together.
The movie’s climax is a match race between War Admiral and Seabiscuit, the east coast blue blood against the snot-nosed brawler.
Not many gave Seabiscuit a chance, and then adversity rocked the team and lowered Seabiscuit’s chances even further. What happened? You’ll have to watch the movie to find out.
10. Phar Lap
Phar Lap is the best horse racing movie ever made. It’s a true story of a racehorse that follows a unique path. There has not been a more dominant Australian horse than Phar Lap.
He crushed the horse racing competition in the 1930s but was never a champion. The director did a fantastic job bringing the Phar Laps story to life.
The movie’s acting was spot on, and the film drew you into the horse racing world. It portrayed the bond between horse and man in a real sense. Overall Phar Lap is a great movie from start to finish.
Hidalgo is a movie based on a legendary man and his horse, Frank T. Hopkins and Hidalgo. They were an act in Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show and were promoted as the “world’s greatest endurance horse and rider.”
One day Frank is confronted to either stop calling themselves the greatest endurance team or prove it by winning the ultimate endurance race, the “Ocean of Fire,” a 3000-mile race across the Najd desert.
Frank accepts the challenge, and off he and Hildago go to race in the desert. The movie follows their exploits and hardships in the race; they face and conquer obstacles and prejudices.
There is lots of drama and unsavory characters plus intriguing ladies. Hildago is a fun-loving movie that entertains, and the entire family will enjoy it.