Whether it’s the weather, or time of year or simply hunkering down, most of us can find ourselves indoors and yearning for a horse fix through our favorite horse flicks. Activity that we might usually spend at the barn is replaced with a familiar longing for some horse contact.
So, what’s the next best thing to actually being out on the back of a horse? Watching some of the greatest classic horse films ever made, of course! That’s right…there are classic horse films to cure horse longings. Here’s a list of our favorites and why they are classics. The list is in no particular order.
Ten Classic Horse Flicks to Satisfy Your Horse Fix
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The Black Stallion & The Black Stallion Returns
As a little girl, I think that I actually wore out the VHS copy my family owned of The Black Stallion. It is a tale of a little boy who was shipwrecked on a deserted island with nothing except for a wild black stallion. For all intents and purposes this movie was a great way for a little girl to start dreaming about owning such a horse. By that time in my life, I had already had a taste of the “Arabian Horse World”, so it was immediately apparent that The Black was an Arabian Stallion – and he was, played by the Champion “Cass Ole”.
The story goes on to show how a horse can love a boy, and – with enough time on his hands – how a boy can tame a wild horse. The two really end up saving each other, in more ways than one. Eventually, the two are rescued and young Alec Ramsey figures out a way to keep his horse, temporarily in his suburban backyard, but eventually he gets loose and catches the eye of an old racehorse trainer, played by Mickey Rooney, and the two set out to prove that The Black has what it takes to win a match race with one of the best racehorses in the nation…so long as his rider is young Alec.
The second movie in the franchise, The Black Stallion Returns, is as much a classic as the first. Telling the story of how the young Alec Ramsey, reveling in the proceeds and success of The Black’s short racing career, finds himself with a terrifying predicament. His horse’s original owners have tracked him down and steal him to take him back to his desert home in Morocco. Young Alec stows away aboard a plane to Casablanca, where he is determined to reclaim “his horse”. This film has all the romance, thrills and intrigue to keep you entertained from start to finish.
Justin Morgan Had A Horse
This is another one of those films that many people don’t know about, and yet the story has everything that you could want from a “horse film”. Justin Morgan Had a Horse (The book is by Marguerite Henry), tells of school teacher, Justin Morgan, and how he acquires a young “runt” colt who no one thinks is worth the money it takes to feed him. With some love, attention and time, the colt grows into a sturdy and dependable riding horse that can out-pull oxen and outrun Thoroughbreds. At its core, this is really the story of the foundation of the “Morgan Horse” breed. For a kid, though, (or a horse loving adult looking for a little nostalgic fun on a rainy day), this movie is the classic underdog story that makes you laugh, cheer and even cry a little bit.
Aren’t the best horse films always about the unlikely hero, or the underdog coming out on top? Well, Sylvester is the perfect film in this regard. Melissa Gilbert stars as a young girl who is struggling to raise her two younger brothers. She takes on a “problem horse” that everyone says won’t amount to anything and endeavors to train him to be an Eventing Champion. This movie has a lot of heart, and it was also quite well done in terms of cinematography, especially for the time.
Wild Hearts Can’t Be Broken
So, it’s not often we hear of “diving horses”, but believe it or not, back in the day, it was quite the attraction. Wild Hearts Can’t Be Broken tells the story of young Sonora, who has a love for horses and a strong-will, and how she sets out to become a “diving girl”. In order to prove herself, she has to “tame” a horse that she names “Lightning”, who by all accounts looks crazy. In the end, her determination, and Lightning’s bond with her, allow Sonora to overcome a devastating injury and continue to live her dream. I remember seeing this film in the theater when I was a young girl, and just the other day as the rain was pounding against my windows, I watched it again.
The Man From Snowy River & Return to Snowy River
Both of these films are set in the Australian outback, and tell the story of a young man who has to make his way in the world. In the Man From Snowy River, the young man is gifted with horses and finds himself with a job on a ranch where he falls for the beautiful rancher’s daughter. She’s smart and sassy and also has a love of horses. Together they set out to “tame” a prized colt, without the knowledge of the Rancher. After the colt wins an important race, he is released into a herd of wild “Brumbys” (or wild horses) by a disgruntled ranch hand who hopes that the young man is blamed – everyone sets out to look for the horse, but only “The Man From Snowy River” can get the job done.
The second film, Return to Snowy River, picks up where the first left off, and is the classic boy from the wrong side of the tracks gets the rich girl story. Both films are beautifully filmed and the stories hold up well. The “horse scenes” are top notch and really get the blood pumping in places. If you’re a horse lover, these are both “must see” films.
Mickey Rooney and Elizabeth Taylor together in this movie about an underdog becoming a champion? What could be better. National Velvet tells the story of a 12 year old girl who wins a horse in a raffle and sets out to train him to win the Grand National Steeplechase. She’s up against better horses and better riders, but with the help of a drifter who knows horses she manages to make the cut. Unfortunately, girls aren’t allowed to ride in the race, but we can all probably guess what happens. This is a must see film for all horse crazy girls…and boys.
We probably all know the story of the famous “little horse” who beat the odds, but the 2003 film starring Tobey Maguire really does a great job of bringing the story to life. Another classic underdog story that proves it’s not all about having the “best bred” horse in the world, it’s about having determination, heart and a willingness to do whatever it takes to achieve your goals. A beautifully filmed movie that really puts you in the heart of the action, Seabiscuit is definitely a classic.
Those of you who understand the unique bond a horse and human can enjoy will be moved to tears. This story is based on a true story that takes place during WWI. Directed by Spielberg War Horse is a story of incredible loyalty, hope and tenacity.
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