Family Horse Movies

I was a horse fanatic growing up. Every year at the top of my Christmas list was “a real live horse”. If you have a horse lover at heart or are just looking for something a little different for your movie night, try out one of these favorite horse movies.

Horse Movies for the Whole Family

If you are settling in with your kiddos and big bowl of popcorn, these tried and true horse movies should be a perfect fit.

The Man From Snowy River – Possibly my favorite horse movie of all time. The Man From Snowy River follows the story of Jim Craig. He has grown up with his father on their farm in the high country of Australia. Due to circumstance, he has to move to down to the low country and find a job as a ranch hand. Australian accents, cowboys, romance, and a lovely soundtrack. The movie is inspired by and loosely based on a famous poem. The summer when I was 9 I watched this Not kidding. 

return to snowy river horse movies

Return to Snowy River – As is the way with sequels, this is not as good as the first, but still worth watching. I won’t say much about it in case you haven’t seen the first movie. The only negative is the character of Harrison is no longer played by Kirk Douglas. Brian Dennehey is his replacement, which is a puzzling substitution in my mind but whatever.

Hidalgo – This film is based on the possibly true story of Frank Hopkins. It turns out the man may have made up a lot of his life’s story but it is still an excellent movie. Viggo Mortensen plays Frank, a cowboy turned circus performer for Ringling Brothers. He competes in long distance races and is challenged to take part in a 3,000 miles race in Arabia. He and his mustang Hidalgo take on the challenge. Action, adventure, beautiful horse scenes, and a bit of history make this movie a great choice. True story, after the film Viggo Mortensen bought the horse that played Hidalgo (named TJ) and brought him to the premier of the movie.

Dreamer – I’ll watch Kurt Russell in just about anything. This movie stars Elizabeth Scheu, Kris Kristofferson, and Dakota Fanning. Based on a true story, the film focuses on a family that used to be in the business of raising and selling racehorses. Kurt Russel is the trainer for a wealthy horse owner at the beginning of the film. He ends up essentially rescuing an injured racehorse and bringing it back home. Through the rehabilitation and re-training of this horse, he connects with his daughter and father (Kris Kristofferson). This movie is heartwarming with plenty of horses and beautiful barns you can drool over.

Black Beauty – This is the classic tale as told by Anna Sewell. The film is all told from the horse’s perspective, set in the late 1800s. Definitely not with out some heartbreak, it is a classic for a reason.

Ride a Wild Pony – I don’t know how we ended up with a VHS tape of this movie (probably my Grandma Betty) but it was another one of my favorites as a young horse lover. Again we are in Australia where a poor, scrappy, young boy is given an unbroken pony to ride back and forth to school each day. The pony gets loose, ends up in a wealthy man’s herd where he selects the pony to be a cart horse for his young crippled daughter. The whole town ends up divided on the side of Scott or Josie as to who the pony belongs to. This is a Disney movie but unfortunately isn’t on Disney+ at the time I’m writing this.

Misty of Chincoteague – There are few horse tales as famous as Misty of Chincoteague. Paul and Maureen Beebe live with their grandparents on Chincoteague Island off the coast of Virginia. Each year, the local fire department wrangle up the wild ponies on neighboring Assateague Island and swim them across the channel to town. Some of the ponies are auctioned off. The money raised goes towards the fire department and maintaining the wild horses on the island. After years of watching their grandpa buy, train, and sell the ponies, Paul and Maureen decide to buy one of their own. It is a lifelong dream of mine to buy a pony at Pony Penning Day and bring them home. Sigh.

Horse Movies for the Adults

“Family” includes just the adults sometimes, too! These movies aren’t necessarily inappropriate for kiddos. They are likely not very interesting to a younger crowd and will definitely have some grown up humor and concepts

Murphy’s Romance –  This has been one of my favorites since I was a teenager. Sally Field is Emma Moriarty, a single mom new to a small Arizona town. She gets a ramshackle old farm that she works to turn into a horse boarding and training facility. James Garner is the local pharmacist who she strikes up a friendship with. Full of the ever satisfying farm fix-up montages and plenty of horses. If only my farm projects would go as easily and smoothly as a movie montage.

The Horse Whisperer – This one stars Robert Redford (how does he still have such amazing hair?!) and Scarlett Johannson. In the film, Scarlett’s character and her horse are in an accident and both are left with physical and emotional wounds. Her mom looks for help and finds it in the form of a “horse whisperer”, Robert Redford’s character. It is based on a book of the same title. The main character is based off of Buck Brannaman. More on his story below.

Horse Documentaries

Most of the horse movies above are inspired by or based on true events. If you prefer a good non-fiction flick these are horse documentaries I love.

Buck– The true story of Buck Brannaman that the Horse Whisperer is based on. It’s fascinating to see the quiet, calm connection this man has with horses and how he is able to communicate with them.

Wild Horse Wild Ride – If there is ever a movie to make you want to adopt a mustang, this is it. It follows the story of several horse trainers, novice and experienced, as they take place in the Extreme Mustang Makeover competition. Mustangs available for adoption are randomly assigned to competitors. Trainers have 100 days to train them and take part in a competition. The mustangs are auctioned of and the proceeds go towards mustang conservation.

Saddle Up & Settle In

I spent a lot of time around horses growing up. We don’t have horses at the farm now. When I find myself missing them, one of these movies always works to give me my horse fix. I hope they will do the same for you!

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