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50 Greatest Horse Movies Of All Time Ranked

There's something inherently relatable and cinematic about horses by their very nature. Their majesty and regal statures make them heroic; their potentially tremendous speed makes them exciting, and their ability to form friendships with people of all ages makes them instantly sympathetic to many audiences.

Whether it's a Western, a sports biopic, or a family drama, movies about horses are one of the most popular genres of animal-related movies in Hollywood. Back in the early days of film, many of the best movies centered on cowboys and their horses. Later, adaptations of classic novels like "Black Beauty" hit screens and became loved by fans around the globe.

Now we've collected the top 50 horse movies — containing comedies, dramas, action pictures, heartfelt personal stories, and even animated adventures – and ranked them worst to best. You might be able to predict some of the most famous, but can you guess which one tops our list? It might just surprise you.

50. Racing Stripes

Technically the main animal star of this film isn't a horse; it's a friendly, happy-go-lucky zebra. But at the end of the day, "Racing Stripes" is sure to evoke the same inspirational feelings as a film featuring a single-colored four-legged hoofed mammal. A classic underdog story, "Racing Stripes" is also a talking animal movie, and features an incredible ensemble cast of both onscreen performers and voice actors who give life to the animal stars. The film concerns a zebra named Stripes (Frankie Muniz) who is mistakenly left behind by his traveling circus and adopted by Nolan (Bruce Greenwood), a racehorse trainer. 

His daughter Channing (Hayden Panettiere) bonds with the young zebra, who also becomes friends with other animals on their farm including a rooster (Jeff Foxworthy), a pony (Dustin Hoffman), a goat (Whoopi Goldberg), and a bloodhound (Snoop Dogg). Stripes is convinced he's going to become a prize racehorse and sets out to prove he's got what it takes to compete and win against the best horses around.

A delightful family film, "Racing Stripes" mixes elements from the best racing films like "Seabiscuit" with fun animal movies like "Charlotte's Web" or "Homeward Bound." Incidentally, it's also a testament to the power of Hollywood nondisclosure agreements; Panettiere had to keep a scary zebra-riding-related neck injury secret for years until finally spilling the beans on the Graham Norton Show.  

49. Amazing Racer

Also released under the title "Shannon's Rainbow," this 2009 film starring Julianne Michelle remains a heartwarming tale of faith and family, with a young girl who undergoes major family upheaval and recovers through a connection to a filly named Rainbow. 

The film centers on Shannon (Michelle), a teenage girl who spends her life thinking her biological mother is dead, only to learn she's still alive shortly after her father's passing. Shannon moves in with her mom, whose boyfriend happens to own a racehorse stable where Shannon promptly becomes best friends with a horse named Rainbow. An already complicated situation gets even trickier with an evil rich guy (Eric Roberts) decides he wants Rainbow for himself. It's up to Shannon and her mother to save the beautiful horse from a life of abuse while mending their troubled relationship.

If it sounds like "Shannon's Rainbow" tries a little too hard to appeal to preteen girls, well, so what if it does? At any rate, you can't deny the star power of its supporting cast, which includes Michael Madsen, Daryl Hannah, and Claire Forlani.

48. Shergar

Loosely based on real events, 1999's "Shergar" is an account of the dramatic tale of Shergar, a thoroughbred racehorse born in Ireland and trained in Britain. After a winning season, Shergar was abducted by a gang of criminals who held the horse for ransom in 1983. Though the real story of Shergar has been shrouded in mystery for decades, the film starring Ian Holm and Mickey Rourke portrays an incredible fictionalized conclusion.

Kidnapped and held hostage by IRA operatives Gavin O'Rourke (Rourke) and Dermot Concannon (Andrew Connolly), Shergar's life appears in peril as the Irish government refuses to pay the $5 million ransom for his safe return. With nobody else willing to stand up for Shergar, it falls to a stable boy and jockey named Kevin (Tom Walsh) to save the derby-winning racehorse. The reform school runaway must invade the enemy's camp, attempt a daring rescue, and stay hidden from his pursuers. With guts, guile, and determination, Kevin does whatever it takes to save the horse he calls friend.

With thrilling chases, harrowing escapes, and plenty of excitement — plus a dash of romance — "Shergar" is a satisfying and dramatic adventure that adds a positive ending to a tragic true story.

47. The Winter Stallion

Sometimes called "The Christmas Stallion," the 1992 British film "The Winter Stallion" boasts a cast likely unknown to American audiences but tells a timeless underdog story of a small-town farm that is threatened by big city industrialists. The movie introduces a teenage girl named Gwen (Siân MacLean) who has lived on a farm with her grandfather (Eric Wyn) all her life and shares his passion for raising horses. But when he suddenly dies, she is devastated and retreats into the stables with the mares and stallions.

Gwen is given little time to grieve, as her grandfather's long-lost son Alan (Daniel J. Travanti), Gwen's uncle, comes to town to take ownership of the farm and guardianship of Gwen. Things only get worse when Gwen realizes that Alan has plans to sell the farm and the horses to Christopher Howard (Dafydd Hywel), an unscrupulous real estate developer and evil rich guy. But Gwen isn't willing to let go of her beloved stallion or her grandfather's towering legacy so fast. Together, the girl and her horse must convince Alan to keep the farm, the horses, and her family's good name from being scattered to the winds of progress.

46. Spirit Untamed

In 2021, Dreamworks Animation delivered a new modern equine classic in "Spirit Untamed," a grand adventure featuring the voice talents of Isabela Merced, Marsai Martin, and McKenna Grace, with Jake Gyllenhaal, Walton Goggins, Julianne Moore, and Andre Braugher in supporting roles. A sequel to the 2002 film "Spirit: Stallion of the Cimmaron," "Untamed" is set some years later and sees young Lucky Prescott (Merced) relocate with her family to a quiet frontier town called Miradero where she meets the mustang son of the original Spirit. After she names the young horse Spirit after his father, the two form a strong bond.

Lucky has a difficult home life, but she soon embarks upon an adventure allowing her to temporarily forget about her shaky relationships with her parents. When a nefarious nearby wrangler named Hendricks (Goggins) and his gang plan to steal Spirit along with the rest of his herd, Lucky must push the wranglers off the plains. 

45. Black Beauty (1946)

The classic 19th century novel "Black Beauty" by Anna Sewell has been the subject of numerous screen adaptations over the years, including a couple of TV shows. But the 1946 film starring Mona Freeman, Richard Denning, and Evelyn Ankers is unique among them for taking many liberties with the source material. In this version, we meet a teenaged Anne (Freeman) who is gifted a baby horse for her birthday. She grows to love and care for the horse as he matures into a powerful colt. It's her father's wish that in raising the horse dubbed "Black Beauty" that Anne will learn responsibility and discipline.

Unlike the novel, this adaption focuses more on the romance between Anne and the brash American Bill Dixon (Denning). While Dixon is at first more drawn to the refined and cultured Evelyn (Ankers), Anne eventually catches Bill's eye, but their courtship is thrown off course when Anne's horse disappears. While it departs greatly from the novel, this version of "Black Beauty" is nevertheless a fun and lighthearted adventure in its own right and worthy of the book's legacy.

44. All Roads Lead Home

The final film in the career of "Everybody Loves Raymond" cast member Peter Boyle, the 2008 family drama "All Roads Lead Home" sees 12-year-old Belle (Vivien Cardone) deal with personal tragedy after the death of her mother in a horrific car crash. While father Cody (Jason London) fights to keep the family together, Belle resents him and believes her mother's death is his fault. Belle is soon sent off to live with her ailing grandfather (Boyle), who continues to deteriorate after the loss of his daughter.

But Belle makes new friends on her grandfather's farm in the form of a dog named Atticus, and a former racehorse. Anguished by her grandfather's resentment of the animals on the farm as she bonds with Atticus and her horse, Belle must find the strength to overcome her grief. The reviews are not promising, but we can definitely say that Patton Oswalt is also in the movie "All Roads Lead Home."   

43. Glory

A classic romantic comedy, the 1956 film "Glory" focuses on Agnes Tilbee (Charlotte Greenwood) and her granddaughter Clarabell (Margaret O'Brien) who are both thrilled to have a new horse on their farm — a filly named Glory. They have high hopes that the horse could be a derby-winning racehorse, despite the outsized odds, which would be the answer to their financial prayers. Due to their limited resources, Glory is forced to go to live at the stables of Chad Chadburn (John Lupton), who also happens to be the object of Clarabell's affections.

Chad seems more interested in his fiancée Candy (Lisa Davis) than Clarabell, whose pursuit of the debonair socialite hits further trouble when Agnes tells her that Glory may need to be sold off. To try to raise the money they need, they begin entering Glory in a series of races. While they're disheartened by early losses, an anthem sung by Clarabell becomes popular and soon makes Glory the toast of the town. More problems arise when Agnes loses Glory in a poker game. Chad joins forces with Clarabell to win him back.

42. The Princess Stallion

The 1997 movie "The Princess Stallion" stars Ariana Richards as Sarah, a girl in California who moves away after the untimely death of her mother. Now living with her estranged father (David Robb) in the Scottish Highlands, Sarah is unhappy to be so far from home until she meets a local recluse named Fergus (Andrew Keir).  A noble animal lover, Fergus has taken it upon himself to protect the wildlife from poachers. 

While visiting Fergus, Sarah has a fateful encounter with a mysterious, shimmering white horse of legend that is nearly too remarkable to be real. As the girl and horse begin to bond, they soon become targets of devious trappers who want to use her to capture the stallion for themselves. With Fergus' help, Sarah must fight to protect her new friend and learn to stand up for her own independence. An endearing family adventure, "The Princess Stallion" is sure to warm the heart of anyone who's ever had a close animal friend.

41. The Cup

The 2011 Australian film "The Cup" tells the remarkable true story of jockey Damien Oliver during his participation in the 2002 Melbourne Cup, the most prestigious horse race on the continent. But Oliver is more than just a talented rider with a fast horse; he's a man who persevered through great personal tragedy. With just days to go before the biggest race of his career, Olivier got the news that his brother had been killed in a racing accident.

In the film, Oliver (Stephen Curry) is even more haunted by the news because his father also died in racing-related circumstances years before. Worn down by immense grief, Oliver must overcome his pain and complete his training for the Melbourne Cup, and triumph over the longest personal and professional odds he's ever faced. "The Cup" recounts the inspiring life and spirit of Damien Oliver with touching grace and an earnest heart.

40. Virginia's Run

Starring Gabriel Byrne, the 1997 family film "Virginia's Run" introduces Virginia Lofton (Lindze Letherman), a 13-year-old girl still haunted by the death of her mother in a horse-riding accident years before. Fearful for his daughter's safety and worried that she may meet the same fate as her mother, Virginia's father Ford (Byrne) sells the family horse named Twister to a nearby friend and forbids Virginia to take up riding.

But when Twister dies delivering a foal, Virginia defies her father's wishes and takes it upon herself to raise the young horse, learning to ride it when he isn't watching. The horse named Stormy is eventually trained to race for the neighbor's son Darrow (Kevin Zegers). Seeing the love she has for the horse, Ford eventually comes around and buys Stormy back as a gift to his daughter. As Ford realizes what his wife would have wanted, it's not long before the father and daughter work together to prepare Stormy for a big race with the hopes of defeating Darrow. Despite its well-worn premise — for some reason, a lot of these movies are about teenage girls who adopt horses after one of their parents die — "Virginia's Run" delivers good family fun and a touching, feel-good story.

39. The Black Stallion Returns

A sequel to the highly acclaimed 1979 film "The Black Stallion," the 1983 follow-up brought back original stars Kelly Reno and Teri Garr. Based on the sequel novel of the same name from 1945, the film version sees Black, Alec's (Reno) equine friend, taken from him by the Moroccan Sheik Ishak (Ferdy Mayne) who believes the stallion rightfully belongs to him. Alec isn't willing to let Black go without a fight, and vows to get him back no matter what it takes.

Stowing away on a plane to Casablanca, the young boy embarks on a thrilling journey that takes him through the harsh desert to save his friend. But when the sheik won't be swayed and tells Alec that Black is due to compete in an important horserace, he's left with little choice but to stay and train him in preparation for the event. But with the help of an unlikely ally, Alec might just help Black win it all. "It all" in this case also includes his freedom.

"Returns" doesn't live up to its legendary predecessor, but it's a strong sequel that's endearing and adventurous.

38. Flicka

A surprisingly worthy remake, the 2006 film "Flicka" reimagines "My Friend Flicka" and is also based on the same 1941 children's novel. Alison Lohman stars as Katie, a young girl who harbors the hopes of one day running the ranch owned by her father Rob (Tim McGraw). But her father has other ideas, and he's instead preparing his son Howard (Ryan Kwanten) to take over the ranch himself, as he doesn't believe his daughter has what it takes to be a cowboy.

But the rebellious upstart Katie wants to prove her father wrong. When she meets a wild and uncontrollable mustang she names Flicka, she sets out to tame the beast against her father's wishes. Hoping she can show her father just how tough she really is, Katie successfully breaks Flicka — keep in mind "break" is horse-trainer phrase that means "teach how to be safe to ride" — and the two become close companions. But her love for Flicka is tested when Rob sells the horse out from under her, and declares that she'll never run the ranch.

A crowd-pleasing horse tale of pride and independence, "Flicka" was followed by two sequels, including "Flicka: Country Pride" starring another country music star, Clint Black.

37. The Horsemen

Based on the novel "Les Cavaliers" by author Joseph Kessel, the 1971 film "The Horsemen" features not one but two Hollywood icons in Omar Sharif and Jack Palance. A classical Western adventure film, "The Horsemen" provides a fascinating glimpse into a little-known sometimes legal and typically brutal Middle Eastern sport called buzkashi. In the film we meet one of the game's best players — Tursen (Palance), an older rider who is retired from the game he loves. 

Tursen's son Uraz (Sharif) is an emerging star in the sport, but he shames the family when he is seriously injured during a game, leaving him without the use of one of his legs. Estranged from his father and cast out, Uraz must fight for his name and his honor, in addition to the money he's lost due to his failure. Despite his impairment, Uraz does the unthinkable and battles back against impossible odds in his efforts to become champion.

36. Stablemates

The comedic romp "Stablemates" is a 1930s farce starring the iconic Mickey Rooney. The story centers on a foolish former veterinarian named Tom Terry (Wallace Beery) who exists in a perpetual stupor and gets little respect from his peers. But he nevertheless manages to inspire Mickey, a young stableboy (Rooney) who's hoping to be a professional jockey. He strikes up a companionship with an ailing horse named Lady Q, and the pair dream of triumphing together in various races and derbies.

Mickey needs Tom — who gets hammered and adopts Mickey as his son at one point, for some reason – to fix up Lady Q up so they can participate in a race, which in turn helps the disgraced vet regain his self-respect. While the film is little more than lighthearted kid-friendly fare, it's bolstered by a strong comedic cast and an age-old premise in which two underdogs unite to revive their dreams.

35. Gypsy Colt

A 1954 family classic, "Gypsy Colt" is a quintessential tale of an unbreakable friendship between a child and her horse. The film stars Donna Corcoran, Ward Bond, and Frances Dee, and tells the story of Meg (Cocoran), a girl whose closest companion is her horse named Gypsy Colt. Meg is distraught when, facing financial struggle, her parents sell the horse to a racing stable across the country, leaving the friends forever separated ... or so it seems.

The horse escapes her new home and is intent on reuniting with the little girl who loves her. On her 500-mile journey home, Gypsy Colt faces many obstacles and hazardous terrain, but it's all worthwhile as long as she finds her way back to Meg's loving embrace. Like many horse-related movies, "Gypsy Colt" is essentially a wish-fulfillment fantasy for children, but it might be a worthwhile watch for adults as long as they don't think about it too hard. Future Western movie headliner Lee Van Cleef also stars.

34. Black Beauty (2020)

Due to complications surrounding movie theaters and the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, the latest adaptation of the classic novel "Black Beauty" was released directly to the Disney+ streaming platform. This iteration of "Black Beauty" stars Mackenzie Foy as Jo Green, a teenager who adopts the eponymous horse voiced by Kate Winslet. This version departs from the novel by making Black Beauty a mare instead of stallion, but otherwise it's pretty faithful to the source material. Black Beauty is born in the wild plains of Utah before being separated from her family by cowboys who wrangle her herd and is eventually brought to a farm where she befriends a kind horse trainer (Iain Glen).

After the trainer's sister is killed in a car crash, his niece Jo comes to live on the farm where she and Black Beauty bond over their shared trauma of a lost mother. But when Black Beauty is sold to a nearby farm, Jo is forced to act as caretaker just to maintain a relationship with her equine pal. While Black Beauty's new owners are unfriendly, Jo begins a romance with the family's gentler son, George.

A sweet, basically saccharine family film based on a story that's been told several times before, the 2020 version of "Black Beauty" nevertheless has a charm all its own.

33. The Story Of Seabiscuit

A dramatization of one of the greatest and most celebrated horse races in modern sports history, "The Story of Seabiscuit" landed in 1949. While it isn't the only film based on the improbable derby winner, it was the first. Released just a decade after the race itself, "The Story of Seabiscuit" stars Shirley Temple, Barry Fitzgerald, and Lon McCallister. A heavily fictionalized retelling of the life and racing career of the legendary horse, the story begins with a teenage Margaret O'Hara (Temple) leaving Ireland for American shores following the death of her talented jockey brother.

Soon, Margaret's Uncle Shawn (Fitzgerald) acquires Seabiscuit and starts training him to become a prize-winning racehorse. As the horse begins to rack up wins on the racing circuit, the charming Margaret falls in love with the horse's jockey, Ted Knowles (McCallister).

Though it doesn't exactly tell the true story of Seabiscuit, it gets many of the important details of the horse's legendary career right. While the romantic subplot isn't really based in Seabiscuit's true story, it serves the rest of the movie well.

32. 50 to 1

A horseracing drama based on the true story of the underdog racehorse Mine That Bird who took home the Kentucky Derby crown in 2009, the film "50 to 1" was released just two years after MTB's epic win. The movie begins with a brawl in a bar that, according to The Washington Post, is pretty much how the horse's owner and trainer first became acquainted. In the film, the team makes a long journey from unwitting business partners to unlikely horseracing champions.  

Together, the two men assemble a ragtag group of cowboys, trainers, and caretakers to help nurture and strengthen the thoroughbred MTB. Of course, the journey is filled with small victories, bigger setbacks, and unbelievable twists and turns before MTB achieves his ultimate glory. Though it sticks to many well-worn sports movie tropes – MTB literally overcomes 50 to one odds of winning the Kentucky Derby, so hardly anybody believes in him before his championship run — "50 to 1" forges its own path as a rousing and satisfying story of impossible success.

31. My Friend Flicka

One of the most famous movies about a boy and his horse, the 1943 kids' movie "My Friend Flicka" opens on a rambunctious 10-year-old boy named Ken McLaughlin, played by a Roddy McDowell of eventual "Planet of the Apes" fame. Ken lives on a farm with his parents, but he struggles to live up to their high expectations. Mostly, he wishes to one day have a horse to call his own. 

Initially opposed to this idea, Ken's father comes around when his wife convinces him that owning a horse and caring for it might teach Ken to be more disciplined. But instead of a strong noble stallion, Ken winds up with an uncontrollable filly. Though the two become quickly inseparable, tragedy strikes when Flicka is injured when she runs into some barbed wire. Once criticized as irresponsible and absent-minded, Ken must prove he can focus if in order to care for his feisty friend. An officially designated classic, "My Friend Flicka" is based on a book of the same name and spawned two successful sequels and a remake.

30. Rock My Heart

A Netflix original film made in Germany, "Rock My Heart" opens on Jana (Lena Klenke), a teenager with a terminal genetic heart defect who is reckless and dismissive of her parents' rules. Knowing she's going to die sooner rather than later, Jana engages in dangerous behavior and winds up in the hospital after a motorcycle chase from police.

After she recovers, a dream guides Jana to meet a mighty stallion belonging to the aging farmer Paul Brenner (Dieter Hallervorden). Like Jana, the mustang is a wild and uncontrollable, but they find a peace they have never known before in each other's company. Seeing their connection, the beleaguered Paul allows Jana to spend time at the farm, training the horse and becoming a part of his own life. If he's lucky, Jana might even be able to train the horse to win a race that could save his farm and help turn his life around.

29. My Pal Trigger

The Western genre's most famous cowboy and horse duo, Roy Rogers and Trigger starred in their own movie in 1946, just three years after the similarly titled and themed "My Friend Flicka." "My Pal Trigger" featured a star cowboy at the center and an extremely merchandisable family-friendly horse leading the charge. A handful of musical numbers helped differentiate "My Pal Trigger" from other, similar films of the era, owing to Rogers' fame as a singing cowboy.

The film's story revealed the secret origin of Rogers' well-known, fan-favorite horse Trigger with whom he has the closest of bonds. The story is set when Trigger is a newly born foal, and Rogers is shockingly accused of killing Trigger's father. Thankfully, the King of the Cowboys clears his name, gets to keep the colt, and names him Trigger. The team of Roy Rogers and Trigger got their own TV spin-off five years later, running for six years and producing more than 100 episodes.

28. Champions

Inspired by the story of a real-life British steeplechase jockey named Bob Champion — yes, that was really his name — the movie "Champions" stars John Hurt as the famed horse rider. Released in 1984 just a few years after his miraculous win at the 1981 Grand National, the film dramatizes Champion's heroic battle to win the biggest race as well as his well-documented battle with cancer.

Resolved to overcome his terminal diagnosis, Champion refuses to give in. Not only does he recover, but he climbs to the top of the sport. A movie that would be trite and predictable if it wasn't based on an entirely true story, "Champions" puts British screen icon Hurt in the central role in one of his finest performances as the suffering jockey. A powerful story of grit and determination, Bob Champion defied the odds, won the race, and went on living, which makes just about anything look possible. 

27. Misty

Based on a series of beloved children's books inspired by the true story of a young family who tamed and raised a wild horse, the 1961 film "Misty" is, like the books, set on the coastal island of Chincoteague off the shores of Virginia. There, a wild herd of horses must be thinned out once a year, and so the local fire department annually rounds up strays and auctions them off. The movie introduces us to two energetic youngsters, Paul (David Ladd) and Maureen (Pam Smith), who hope to raise enough money between them to purchase a wild mare named the Phantom.

Once they succeed, they get a bonus. Phantom has a foal that they name Misty. With a picturesque setting and heartwarming family story, "Misty" brought the child-horse friendship trope into a new era in the 1960s. Because it was based on a real horse, the real-life pony went to the movie's premiere and even became a celebrity herself thanks to the popularity of the film.

26. Tonka

A Western adventure with a Native American perspective, the 1958 Walt Disney movie "Tonka" sees a Sioux warrior named White Bull (Sal Mineo) corral a wild stallion in the 1870s. He names the steed Tonka — meaning "Great One" — and trains the feral beast himself. Sadly, White Bull is forced to hand Tonka over to the nastier, unkind Yellow Bull (H.M. Wynant) due to his higher rank in the tribe. Mistreated by his new owner, Tonka manages to escape with the aid of White Bull, then he comes into the possession of the U.S. Cavalry.

From there, Tonka is ridden by the noble Captain Keogh (Philip Carey), who forms a unique bond with his new horse. All the while, Tonka's old friend White Bull never loses track of him, and soon strikes up an unlikely friendship with Keogh, who rides Tonka into the Battle of Little Bighorn. 

With some similarities to the 2011 film "War Horse," this 1950s tale was a brisk, family-friendly Western and another film in the long line of Hollywood stories of a horse's relationship with his warrior rider. We should clarify that we are definitely not suggesting this late '50s Disney movie in which the very clearly Italian Mineo plays a Native American should be lauded for its cultural sensitivity or historical accuracy. We only mean to state that it's a movie with a horse in it that people seem to generally enjoy

25. Smoky

A plutonic love story about a cowboy and his horse, "Smoky" is a 1966 adventure based on the book "Smoky the Cowhorse," by Will James. The film stars Fess Parker as Clint Barkley, a cowboy on the plains who finds and breaks a wild stallion that his friend Jeff (Robert J. Wilke) has been trying to wrangle for years. 

Clint and his new horse become loyal companions with Clint turning down an impressive sum from a nearby rancher who tries to buy the formerly feral horse, now named Smoky. When Jeff realizes how much Smoky may be worth, he tries to get rich by selling Smoky behind Clint's back. When Jeff attempts to steal Smoky under cover of night, the horse accidentally kills him and escapes. 

Despite the distance between them, the bond between Clint and Smoky is unbreakable, and the two are ultimately brought back together in this crowd-pleasing family adventure.

24. Windstorm

A German twist on a classic tale of a girl who becomes best friends with a horse, the 2013 family drama "Ostwind" (or, "Windstorm") starts when rebellious teenage Mika (Hanna Binke) is sent off to live with her much stricter grandmother far out in the country. There she finds a horse ranch that she initially wants no part of until a horse called Windstorm comes to her attention. A prized stallion, Windstorm is considered untamable and even occasionally violent, but Mika's attention proves to be just the solution for the horse's volatile nature. 

Based on a series of books that have since become a major franchise in Europe — with their own line of video games, believe it or not — the film sees Windstorm and Mika form a bond that borders on a magical connection. A big hit in its native Germany, "Windstorm" has been followed by three sequels.

23. The Littlest Horse Thieves

Somewhat grislier than what you might typically expect from Disney, 1976's "The Littlest Horse Thieves" was released as "Escape from the Dark" in Britian, which some might argue is a more appropriate title. The movie concerns a group of child coal miners who work in Yorkshire, England in the early 20th century. As a new era of progress dawns, the children learn that the ponies that have previously been used to haul the coal out of the mines are due to be replaced by a new mechanized steam-powered contraption. 

To the children's horror, they also discover that the outmoded ponies are to be slaughtered, prompting two boys to hatch a daring scheme to save them. When the uncaring Mr. Sandman's (Peter Barkworth) daughter Alice (Chloe Franks) learns of their plans, she decides to help. But when things go wrong, they'll have to redouble their efforts if the ponies are to survive. A lesser-known Disney drama, "The Littlest Horse Thieves" is one that's worth digging out of the vault. 

22. The Electric Horseman

The first of two movies on this list starring Robert Redford, "The Electric Horseman" was directed by Sydney Pollack and co-stars Jane Fonda. The 1979 Western comedy sees Redford in the role of Sonny, a championship rodeo rider who sells out and becomes a pitch man for a new brand of breakfast cereal. As it turns out, hawking corporate food is no life for the onetime champion cowboy. Sonny is generally unsatisfied with his life during an appearance in Las Vegas where he discovers a horse called Rising Star is the victim of abuse.

Disillusioned with everything his life has become and looking for a new purpose, Sonny steals Rising Star and embarks on a noble quest to set the noble steed free. As he searches for a far-off region where Rising Star might find a new home, Sonny is joined by intrepid reporter Hallie (Fonda), who wants to write the story of this heroic cowboy and his majestic horse. Together they crisscross the country and stay under the law's radar in the hopes of saving Rising Star from man's cruelty. Technically, "The Electric Horseman" isn't Redford's best Western or his best horse-centric movie, but it might be one of his most underrated.

21. Ruffian

An ESPN original television movie from 2011, "Ruffian" retells the dramatic story of U.S. Racing Hall of Fame champion racehorse Ruffian, considered by many to be one of the greatest thoroughbred fillies who ever lived. Sam Shepard, best known for the role of Chuck Yeager in "The Right Stuff," plays another real-life figure in Ruffian's trainer, Frank Whiteley. 

The story takes the magnificent mare on her journey to becoming an undefeated champion who eventually enters a climactic race against Kentucky Derby winner Foolish Pleasure in July of 1975. It chronicles the preparation for one of the most incredible and tragic horse races in the sport's history. Be warned: if you don't know the true story of Ruffian, be prepared for a breathtaking emotional journey unlike any other film on this list.

Full of nail-biting racehorse action and soulful suspense combined with strong performances from its cast, "Ruffian" takes it all and becomes a championship TV movie.

20. The Silver Brumby

An Australian production, the 1993 drama "The Silver Brumby" stars Russell Crowe and was released outside of its native continent as "The Silver Stallion." For those unfamiliar, the term "brumby" refers to the wild horses in Australia, and the film — based on a classic novel of the same name — centers around a mighty stallion born during a thunderstorm who fights off cruel men attempting to capture his herd. 

Crowe stars as the villain of the picture, a wrangler intent on having the titular silver brumby named Thowra for himself. Narrated by a young mother who is penning the story for her daughter, the film has few human characters and audiences are led on a magnificent adventure by one of nature's most majestic animals.

A breathtaking film, "The Silver Brumby" has been lauded by The Guardian for its "natural beauty" that remains captivating and triumphant while it showcases man's desperate need to conquer nature. Perhaps the truest horse movie on this list — there's no teen girl with a recently deceased mom or dad in this one, it's all about the horse — "The Silver Brumby" is a visually splendorous cinematic tale.

19. Jappeloup

This 2011 French film recounts the true story of Pierre Durand Jr., a celebrated rider who gave up a promising life as a lawyer to enter the world of equestrian show jumping. Inspired by Karine Devilder's nonfiction book "Crin Noir," the film provides a glimpse into the jockey's incredible life and his precipitous rise to fame alongside his horse, Jappeloup.

Raised on a small farm, Durand came from a family of rural horse breeders. The duo of Durand and Jappeloup overcame a number of challenges, including the horse's small stature. Through every hardship, the rider and his horse grow stronger into a formidable pair. While Durand romances a new love in his life, he rides Jappeloup to victory after victory. Eventually, the duo competes in the 1984 Olympic Games. Written by and starring Guillaume Canet, "Jappeloup" features one of the most satisfying comebacks in horse movie history and a climactic conclusion that will leave you pumping your fist in triumph.

18. Black Beauty (1994)

Another version of the classic novel, 1994's "Black Beauty" was directed by frequent Tim Burton collaborator Caroline Thompson and stars Sean Bean and David Thewlis. Black, the stallion himself, is voiced by Alan Cumming who narrates the story from his early days on an English farm before he is eventually sent to live on a large estate owned by a wealthy family. There, he gets his name Black Beauty and becomes friendly with the other horses, including a mare named Ginger. He also becomes fond of the stableboy Joe Green (Andrew Knott).

Eventually, Black Beauty and Ginger are moved to another home with a cruel owner. But shortly after, Black Beauty meets Jerry (Thewlis), a gruff Londoner who employs him as a taxicab horse in the big city. Across his many adventures from place to place across the country, Black Beauty never forgets the boy who raised him. After many years, the two are finally brought back together with Black Beauty spending the rest of his life on a quiet farm with his old friend. The best of the many adaptations of the original novel, 1994's "Black Beauty" remains a classic to this day.

17. Hidalgo

After he'd starred in the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy, star Viggo Mortensen moved on to another role in which he rides a horse. "Hidalgo" is an underrated Western that puts Mortensen in the role of real-life cowboy legend Frank Hopkins, who was once a member of Buffalo Bill's Wild West road show. Hopkins heads to the Arabian desert with his favorite mustang, the eponymous Hidalgo, to take part in the region's most famous horse race, known as the Ocean's Fire. Once he gets there, he goes up against the most skilled horsemen and the toughest steeds in the region.

The race, which covers more than 3000 miles across harsh Middle Eastern terrain, forces Hopkins to endure incredible challenges. He'll face down mighty sandstorms and endure deadly temperatures, but his biggest problems don't come from nature. Instead, they come from other competitors in the race who view the American as an invader to their realm and team up to sabotage Hopkins' journey. A movie about a man and his horse on an impossible global adventure, "Hidalgo" will delight anyone who appreciates the pulp action of early '40s epics. 

16. Calamity, a Childhood of Martha Jane Cannary

Inspired by the story of horse-riding historical heroine Calamity Jane, the 2020 animated film "Calamity, a Childhood of Martha Jane Cannary" comes to us by way of France and tells the story of a girl determined to prove herself every bit as capable as the boys and men around her. She starts out on a caravan riding along the Oregon Trail in the 19th century as a bright-eyed pioneer who must fight to lead when her father is injured, and a rival boy is put in charge instead.

Training herself to ride a horse and to use a lasso, Martha Jane soon befriends a passing soldier who offers her counsel and support in her fight to be taken seriously. Along the way, she meets a number of new friends including a headstrong gold miner named Madame Mustache. Martha Jane learns that while being a woman may be tough in the Wild West ... she's even tougher.

15. Into the West

An Irish fairy tale adventure from 1992, the movie "Into the West" tells the story of brothers Ossie (Ciarán Fitzgerald) and Tito Reilly (Rúaidhrí Conroy) who live with their father (Gabriel Byrne). Ossie and Tito's mother died during a childbirth years earlier. Saddled with grief from the loss of his wife, Papa Reilly tries his best to raise his two boys in a tall apartment building in Dublin. One day their grandfather, a man who loves telling tall tales, comes with a gift for his grandsons in the form of a magical horse called Tír na nÓg. According to the grandfather's claims, the mythical white steed is a creature from an old Irish legend.

But when a wealthy local gets wind of an impressive horse in the possession of some poor folks, Tír na nÓg is stolen and employed as a racehorse. Spotting him on television, the boys set out to steal him back and the entire nation becomes captivated by the pair's adventure to rescue the noble animal and outwit their pursuers. With two child protagonists and a magical white horse, you'd be forgiven for thinking this is strictly a children's film. But with plenty of social allegory and some serious drama, "Into the West" has become an entirely respectable Irish horse classic.

14. Dreamer

Another movie inspired by a true story, the 2005 film "Dreamer" stars action hero Kurt Russell in a role that's a little more down to Earth than Snake Plissken or Jack Burton. This time he's Ben Crane, a devoted horse trainer who has sadly overlooked his fatherly duties to his daughter Cale (Dakota Fanning). Crane works hard in the stables tending to his boss' horses, including one thoroughbred named Soñador. When the prized mare is seriously injured, he's told to put the horse down. Ben can't bring himself to do it, so he buys the horse himself and brings it home for his daughter.

Together, Ben and Cale nurse the horse back to health. Against all odds, Soñador makes an incredible recovery and eventually becomes a part of the family as well as a successful racehorse. At the same time, the experience of caring for Soñador brings the distant father closer to his rambunctious daughter. A heartwarming feel-good movie, "Dreamer" has become a largely well-liked addition to the roster of horse-based American movies.

13. The Man from Snowy River

The 1982 Australian Western romance film "The Man from Snowy River" stars legendary leading man Kirk Douglas ... twice. Though he's not the central star, Douglas appears in dual roles — playing both halves of a pair of brothers, Harrison and Spur. In the film, Tom Burlinson plays hearty cowboy Jim Craig, who must fight for the right to inherit his father's land. To accomplish this, he goes to work at a ranch run by the disagreeable Harrison who openly disrespects him. The old ranch owner likes Jim even less when he courts his daughter Jessica (Sigrid Thornton).

On advice from a gruff one-legged gold miner named Spur, Jim works to earn Harrison's approval and respect. He helps Jessica break her father's prized colt, but when things go wrong and the horse is lost, he may lose Jessica's father's respect and her affections for good. Now he'll have to fight twice as hard to earn them both back. 

12. Spirit: Stallion Of Cimarron

Set during the late 1800s on the wide-open plains of the Wild West, the 2002 animated gem "Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron" follows a mustang stallion named Spirit (Matt Damon). A wild horse and leader of his herd, Spirit encounters a U.S. Cavalry squad who find his noble stature and powerful presence impressive and decide to capture him for themselves. But Spirit refuses to be broken and when the Colonel (James Cromwell) who rides him mistreats him for his wild ways, Spirit escapes with the help of a friendly Lakota man named Little Creek (Daniel Studi).

Taken in by the Native American tribesman, Spirit meets and falls in love with a mare named Rain before he is recaptured by the Colonel. In the employ of a train company amid the building of a new railroad, Spirit vows to set the rest of his kind loose and lead a revolt because no matter who tries to tame and possess him, Spirit refuses to be anything but free.

A visually breathtaking adventure of pride, power, and independence, "Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron" could be one of the most underrated animated films of the 2000s.

11. Dream Horse

One of the more recent movies on this list, "Dream Horse" is a 2020 film based on the true story of a horse called Dream Alliance. It all starts when Jan Vokes (Toni Collette), a bartender in a Welsh village who raises horses in her spare time, decides to breed and raise a racehorse of her own. But times are tough, and the expenses of training a championship steed are steep, so she proposes a bold plan to her neighbors — the entire village will band together to contribute what little they can afford to amass the necessary funds to make Jan's dream a reality and will collectively share in the joys and rewards of whatever success they have. 

As the community pitches in for the cost of training the stallion, Dream Alliance soon begins winning races against the best the region has to offer. They face long odds and many challenges, including a serious injury, but nothing can stop Jan's figurative dream or her literal Dream. Through what seems like sheer force of will, their modest endeavor begins to lift up the struggling town and brings a new light into their lives. A moving story of determination, courage, and the power of working together, "Dream Horse" has proven a worthy member of the pantheon of great horse movies.

10. Ride Like A Girl

Teresa Palmer stars in the moving 2019 Australian drama "Ride Like a Girl" — the true story of jockey Michelle Payne (Palmer) who becomes the first woman to win the Melbourne Cup in 2015. She accomplishes this major feat atop her long-time horse Prince of Penzance. The film also stars Aussie original Sam Neill as Payne's father who believes in her while the whole world is telling her to quit. Meanwhile, Payne's real-life brother Stevie plays himself in a handful of emotional scenes. 

Raised alone by her father after the death of her mother in a car crash and the tragic loss of her sister in a riding accident years later, Payne's real-life story is painfully reminiscent of many fictional dramas that have come before. But as we watch her journey from haunted hero to rebellious rider to triumphant champion, it's all the more remarkable for being a true story. Facing every possible obstacle, and a system that wanted her to fail, Payne passed every test and took a literal victory lap that inspired a whole new generation of future champs.

9. Lean on Pete

Starring Charlie Plummer, the 2017 British film "Lean on Pete" is a coming-of-age story about a teenage boy named Charley. Raised by a single father in a troubled home, Charley gets a job as a stableboy at the ranch of a gruff older cowboy named Del (Steve Buscemi) who briefly becomes a mentor to him. While working at the ranch, Charley cares for a past-his-prime racehorse named Lean on Pete.

After his father dies and Del tells him Lean on Pete is to be sold off, Charley tries to buy the horse without success. Lacking any other option, Charley takes the reins, steals Pete, and makes a mad dash for Wyoming where he hopes to reunite with his Aunt Margy (Alison Elliott). Alone with Pete on the road and on the run with no money and no friends to rely on, Charley is forced to steal to survive. But a tragic accident will change everything, and force Charley to confront the ghosts of his past.

Maybe not exactly what we'd call inspiring or uplifting, "Lean on Pete" is instead a sobering drama about a boy and his horse both looking to escape to find new lives.

8. The Horse Whisperer

There have been many movies about characters with borderline supernatural bonds with their horses, but few are as beloved as 1998's "The Horse Whisperer" directed by and starring Robert Redford. Based on the novel by Nicholas Evans, the film follows the story of Grace (Scarlett Johansson) who experiences a terrifying horse-riding accident that kills her best friend and seriously injures her equine companion, Pilgrim. 

While Grace is left partially disabled and Pilgrim remains traumatized from the accident, they are both taken by Grace's mother Annie (Kristen Scott Thomas) to a remote ranch in Montana where a horse whisperer named Tom Booker (Redford) offers his services. As the mother and daughter get to know Tom through his work with Pilgrim, Annie is drawn to this enigmatic horse whisperer and forced to re-evaluate her life and her marriage to Robert (Sam Neill). At the same time, Tom must come to terms with his own past while helping Grace and Pilgrim learn to live again.

7. The Mustang

Directed by French filmmaker Laure de Clermont-Tonnerre, "The Mustang" is a 2019 drama about a horse that bonds with a convicted felon as part of horse-based rehabilitation therapy. 

The story here centers on Roman (Matthias Schoenaerts), a man serving time for a violent incident and is not interested in rejoining society, having become acutely aware of the danger he poses to others. But the rehab program recruits Roman to help train a wild mustang with the goal of helping both horse and trainer develop new skills, after which the horse will be sold at auction.

As Roman struggles with his job of horse trainer, he develops a kinship with his protege stallion, who he names Marquis. Despite a major setback due to turmoil in the prison, Roman succeeds and hopes he can use the experience to improve his relationship with his estranged daughter. A heartfelt story of redemption, "The Mustang" was met with critical acclaim for its powerful performances and gut-wrenching story that reviewer Tomris Laffly called "A tender film about forgiveness and second chances ... a testament to the worthy stories yet to be told about the healing [and the] unbreakable bonds between tormented people and the misunderstood animals."

6. Secretariat

Based on one of the sport's most famous racehorses, 2010's "Secretariat" stars John Malkovich and Diane Lane. In the story, Penny Chenery (Lane) returns home following the death of her mother and follows through on her elderly father's unique deal with a leading horse breeder. They will match each of their best horses — her father's finest mare with the breeder's best stallion — and will each claim a foal from their union. Mixing the fastest steed with the most durable mare, a coin flip leaves Penny with the apparent lesser foal, a young horse named Secretariat.

Thrust into the high stakes, male dominated world of horse racing, Penny — together with a stout trainer named Lucien (Malkovich) and a talented jockey (Otto Thorwarth) — turns Secretariat into a prize winner. Even when besieged by financial difficulties at one point in the movie, Penny refuses to sell her horse and rejects a very lucrative offer. But with a little ingenuity and elbow grease, she sees Secretariat to victory after victory. Penny and Secretariat's racing careers culminate in the conquest of the Triple Crown, the sport's highest honor.

"Secretariat" was met with many rave reviews upon its release, particularly one from noted critic Hannah Goodwyn who anointed it the finest horse racing movie she'd ever seen.

5. Phar Lap

Star of "The Man from Snowy River," Tom Burlinson returned a year later for another horse movie, the 1983 drama "Phar Lap." Burlinson plays Tommy Woodcock, who cares for a would-be racehorse named Phar Lap. Brought over from New Zealand, Phar Lap had been purchased blind and arrived on Australian shores unhealthy. Described as a "cross between a sheepdog and a kangaroo" by one observer, Phar Lap evolves into a winner thanks to his mighty pedigree and his steadfast trainer.

Phar Lap begins to improve, and despite early losses, soon learns to blast past the competition. But with more wins comes more problems for Woodcock and Phar Lap's trainer, as those around them look to profit from the racehorse's sudden wave of success. With an emotional race in its finale, "Phar Lap" soars as a suspenseful adaptation of one of the most unheralded horse racing stories ever told.

4. War Horse

Directed by Steven Spielberg, "War Horse" debuted in 2013 to applause from both critics and audiences. The film begins in 1912 with the birth and auction of English sporting horse named Joey to a farmer who uses him to help plow fields instead of participating in athletic competitions. Joey ends up bonding with the farmer's son Albert (Jeremy Irvine). 

When World War I starts, Albert is forced to sell his horse to the army where he becomes faithful companion to Captain Nichols (Tom Hiddleston), fighting under the command of Major Stewart (Benedict Cumberbatch). Eventually, the horse is captured by the Germans, where he is matched with Gunther, a deserter who takes Joey to a French farm. All the while, as Joey has moved from place to place and owner to owner, Albert never stops searching for his beloved animal friend. 

Nominated for six Academy Awards, including best picture, it was a rousing return to form for Spielberg after the financially successful but extremely polarizing "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull" in 2008. With an all-star cast and a majestic directorial effort, "War Horse" is both a great war movie and an engaging story about the emotional life and journey of a horse.

3. National Velvet

"National Velvet" is one of the oldest and most celebrated movies about a bond between a woman and her horse. Released in 1944 and based on a book by Enid Bagnold, "National Velvet" was nominated for five Academy Awards and won two. The film features Elizabeth Taylor, then an emerging Hollywood star, as well as Angela Lansbury and Mickey Rooney. Taylor stars as Velvet Brown, an English girl who comes into possession of an unmanageable horse and sets out to train it in hopes of entering the prestigious Grand National.

Named The Pie, the horse is soon ready to race with the help of a friendly but washed-up jockey named Michael Taylor (Rooney). But when the chosen rider proves unable to take the reins on the day of the race, Michael may be forced to conquer his fears and get back in the saddle one more time. 

An all-time classic, "National Velvet" is revered by reviewers, holding a highly unusual 100% on Rotten Tomatoes. The film is also remembered for the fact that Taylor herself, then just 13 years old, became so bonded to the horse used in the making of the film that she became the earliest instance of an actor adopting an animal from a set that we're aware of. 

2. Seabiscuit

Voted the best horse-racing movie by the horse experts at Deep Hollow Ranch, 2003's "Seabiscuit" put "Spider-Man" star Tobey Maguire into the role of an underdog jockey in an enthralling story set during the Great Depression. Blinded from his career as an amateur boxer, Red Pollard (Maguire) struggles but is nevertheless hired to ride a horse purchased by a similarly struggling stable owner, Charles Howard (Jeff Bridges). Though he comes from a noble lineage of racehorses, Seabiscuit is not expected to be any kind of a prize winner, with a fiery demeanor and smaller-than-average size. 

But it isn't long before Red, Charles, and Seabiscuit turn around their fortunes. Buoyed by his horse's sudden success, Charles challenges the owner of Triple Crown-winner War Admiral to a race against Seabiscuit. When Red is injured in a riding accident, he is left hospitalized and Seabiscuit might have to compete in the race of the century without his best rider. 

An Academy Award nominee for best picture, "Seabiscuit" was a decent hit at the box office and instantly beloved by horseracing aficionados. It's since become the gold standard of racing films with a strong cast, thrilling races, and an uplifting message of hope and determination.

1. The Black Stallion (1979)

Based on the classic children's novel by Walter Farley, the 1979 film adaptation of "The Black Stallion" stands head and shoulders above most other movies starring a horse. The film chronicles the adventures of a boy named Alec Ramsey (Kelly Reno) who travels with his father by steamship. During his travels, the boy becomes entranced by a mysterious black stallion who comes aboard for the journey. But when the ship tragically sinks, Alec and the steed find themselves the lone survivors, marooned on a remote and deserted island.

Though it takes time for Alec to earn the horse's trust, they soon come to rely on each other to survive. Naming him "Black," Alec forms a tight friendship with the horse, and when a passing ship rescues them, they return home together. Back home, Alec encounters a jockey named Henry (Mickey Rooney), and the two decide to train Black as a racehorse and turn the powerful black stallion into a prize-winning competitor.

Beloved for generations, "The Black Stallion" brought the horse movie genre to new heights. It was nominated for two different Oscars and won one, spawned two sequels, and even a short-lived TV series that brought Rooney back as Henry the jockey.