A gorgeous young woman forms an unlikely alliance with an unruly and wild stallion.
Debi from the poor side of town defies all odds to pursue her passion of jumping with a horse experts have written off as unsuitable, becoming an inspiration to all riders with her never-give-up attitude and hard work ethic.
National Velvet (1944)
Young Elizabeth Taylor in her breakout role of playing a horse-crazy girl named Pie (for its piebald coloring), leaves home to compete in England’s Grand National steeplechase race. Based on Enid Bagnold’s 1935 novel of the same name, this heartwarming film portrays both big dreams and small ones coming true; all thanks to those around them helping make them possible.
Mickey Rooney stars as an ex-jockey who assists a girl in training a wild but gifted horse for the Grand National steeplechase in this children’s classic, National Velvet. While its final race veers toward sentimentality at times, National Velvet remains a delightful and heartwarming film that showcases young Taylor’s unparalleled talents.
Velvet, 14, daughter of a country estate owner wins Pie in a village lottery and convinces Mi, her father’s cynical farmhand, to train it for Britain’s Grand National Steeplechase race. Mi thinks it would be foolish for Velvet’s daughter Velvet and him to attempt such an impossible task but Velvet insists and provides money for entrance fees; over what seems like months they train Pie until finally taking him in his big race day race!
Lean on Pete (1993)
Based on Willy Vlautin’s novel and directed by Andrew Haigh (45 Years, Weekend), Lean on Pete appears to be a classic story of a troubled young man finding comfort with an animal companion; but its darker undercurrents reveal an existence fraught with desperation and degradation that borders upon gentrification.
Charley, a 15-year-old protagonist living with his alcoholic father in rural Oregon and searching for stability, begins working for Del, an austere horse trainer, where he quickly bonds with one of Del’s failing racehorses that becomes known as Lean on Pete. Although Del lectured him for his feral eating habits and discouraged too close relationship to horses, Bonnie (Chloe Sevigny), an old jockey could provide warmth and guidance that Del failed to provide.
After hearing that Del is selling Lean on Pete, Charley devises a plan to save it from being sold and sets off with his horse for Wyoming in search of an aunt who could offer them new start. While this bleak drama reveals the seedier side of horseracing, Charlie Plummer’s powerful performance makes it impossible to turn away.
Black Beauty (1994)
Anna Sewell’s beloved 1877 children’s novel, “The Horse with a Noble Heart,” comes alive through this adaptation. Young audiences adore Anna’s tale about an upright horse with a noble heart who must face natural and manmade disasters, trusted friends, bitter foes and all manner of cruelty throughout its incredible journey.
Black Beauty, a carefree colt, is purchased by the Gordon family, where he meets Ginger – an energetic filly who challenges him at every turn – before showing his heroism by saving her in a river raging with rapids. However, stable boy Joe mistreats the horses poorly, leading them into sickness; but ultimately saves Beauty and Ginger from an unfortunate stable fire before selling them back again.
At their next auction, Jerry purchases an energetic pair, who he treats well and uses in his taxi carriage service. However, on a ride into town they startle passengers and cause serious accidents; one passenger named Lady Wexmire orders that the horses wear uncomfortable bearing reins so as to keep their heads elevated during her carriage ride.
This movie tells the unforgettable tale of one of the greatest racehorses ever, making for an undeniably inspiring cinematic experience. Loosely adapted from Laura Hillenbrand’s book of the same name, Penny Chenery defies traditional thoroughbred breeding practices to turn her horse into a champion racehorse.
Secretariat’s most memorable scene from this movie occurs on Derby morning after losing in his last pre-Crown race and going without food all night, until Eddie comes with a bucket of feed (after having some brief eye contact with him the night prior), at which point Secretariat began eating again.
It may be overwrought at times, but Big Red remains an excellent movie. Unfortunately, its only drawback lies in how it venerates Big Red too much as a horse owner; Diane Lane miscast in this role; while it lacked the growl and iron of movies such as Seabiscuit or Babe or Black Beauty. Still, this film makes an enjoyable viewing experience for children and adults alike – great fun when enjoyed together – rooting on Big Red from start to finish!
The Rider (2014)
Although not as highly touted as some of our other choices, this 2014 film about a girl and her horse bond is worth viewing. Starring rising actor Brady Jandreau as Lakota rodeo champion told his career is over after suffering head trauma during competition, the movie follows his struggle to find new purpose while maintaining relationships with horses and family.
Though its animation may not match that of our other choices, this movie captures the magic of horse-human relationships incredibly well. Lucky is an ex-city girl who forms an unlikely bond with wild horse Spirit while adventuring with Pru and Abigail in a small western town setting. Together they embark on an unforgettable journey that changes both lives forever. A great family movie for watching together: an inspirational tale about courage, friendship and loyalty with an unexpected twist: animals teach us about ourselves and each other!