Now that the weather is getting colder and it’s time to pull out the winter outerwear, there’s nothing better than climbing out of your saddle, posting up on the couch with a loved one or some friends, popping some popcorn, and settling in front of the TV to watch a movie. It’s warm, it’s cozy and, most importantly, it’s fun!
Since we here at HorseLoverZ.com love horses (obviously!), we adore movies that pay homage to these majestic animals. If you’re anything like us, whenever a horse appears on screen your heart skips a beat, your eyes light up, and you may even let out a little squeal of excitement. Putting yourself into the movies with the equines is half the fun–you get to imagine yourself with the reins in your hand, wind blowing through your hair, and a happy ending coming your way. Below we’ve come up with a list of some of the best (at least to us) and famous horse movies that you may know and love, or may want to add to your Must Watch List.
Black Beauty (1994)
Even though this is the fifth remake of the film, we still feel that this is a real classic. Who doesn’t remember reading the books as a child, and later watching your favorite scenes reenacted on the big screen? For some, it may have even been the spark that lit the equestrian fire in your heart. Based in 1870s England, the movie tells the story of a Black Beauty– a lovely black stallion with a heart of gold– and his life from his ‘colt years’ to his trials and tribulations later in his life.
The horse that played Black Beauty was named Docs Keepin’ Time, and he was a black American Quarter Horse. Before his time in the spotlight, Docs Keepin’ Time was a rather unsuccessful racing horse, despite being fifth generation offspring from War Admiral. Docs Keepin’ Time went on to star in the TV series adaption of Black Beauty, The Adventures of the Black Stallion. He also proceeded to sire many offspring, including Keepin’ Charge who followed in Docs Keepin’ Time’s footsteps and went into film.
Oh, what a movie! Based on the memoirs written by the real Frank T. Hopkins, Hidalgo is the story of a down-and-out cowboy who entered into one of the world oldest and most dangerous cross-country races, The Ocean of Fire– a 3,000 mile journey across the Arabian Desert. The race is usually reserved for only the purest Arabian horses, so obviously eyebrows are raised when an American rides in on a mustang and a cowboy hat on his head. A heartwarming tale filled with action and adventure, the real hero of the film is Hidalgo, the horse.
Five different American Paint horses were used to play Hidalgo, though the main one used was a former breeding stallion named RH Tecontender (TJ). Viggo Mortenson (the actor who played Frank T. Hopkins) developed such a strong bond with TJ during filming that he actually purchased him from the trainer, Rex Peterson. TJ was picked for the role because of his beautiful looks and sturdy demeanor, and it sure paid off.
War Horse (2011)
The most recently made movie on our list, War Horse is the story of a man (Albert) and the bond with his horse (Joey) during WWI. During the war, horses were taken from local farms and used for cavalry, draught animals, and pulling guns, ambulances and other vehicles; when Joey was sold to the British army Albert enlists too. Unfortunately they are separated for the duration of the war, and both parties experience great hardships– though the ending is a happy one.
Like Hidalgo, multiple horses were used to play the main character horse, Joey; eight equines were used to play him as an adult, four as a colt, and two were used for him as a foal. There was also a horse make-up artist on the set to dye the horses coats and add markings where needed in order to ensure continuity in the scenes.
Little girls everywhere felt like they could identify with this movie. Flicka is a coming-of-age story about a teen girl, Katy, who wants nothing more than to stay home and run her family’s ranch– something her father does not have in mind for her. To prove to her parents that she has what it takes to run the farm, she sets out to tame Flicka, a mustang filly she found in the hills around the family ranch. She cares for the horse, even through sickness and injury.
Six different horses were used to play Flicka in the film, with one primarily used for close-ups. Alison Lohman, the actress who plays Katy, found that she liked one horse in particular, though it wasn’t any of the ones that played Flicka; she formed a bond with Benny, the horse her character rode before adopting Flicka. Lohman has said that he was big, soft, and felt like he was taking care of her. Here at HorseLoverZ.com, we’ve known horses like that, so we know just how easy it is to fall in love with them.
The story of Seabiscuit is one that is pretty well-known, even outside of the horse-world. Seabuscuit is based on the true story of the undersized and under-dog racehorse by the same name who managed to win the hearts and lift the spirits of an entire nation during The Great Depression.
Ten different horses were used to play the role of Seabuscuit. Finders Key was one of them, and was discovered by the wrangler for the movie. A former racehorse himself, he seemed to be better suited to the camera than the racetrack. Finders later went on to play one of the animals used to play Joey in War Horse. Another former racehorse by the name of Popcorn Deelites was used to play Seabiscuit, and actually has another famous racehorse, Secretariat, in his bloodline; he was used to play Seabiscuit during the breaking from the gate scenes and during the races.
Of course, the great horse movies included in this list are not the only cinematic gems in existence. Let us know your favorites, and perhaps even consider gifting a DVD of these horse classics to the equestrian you hold dear.