The best horse movies on Netflix: now that’s a topic I’ve been willing to write on for a very long time. I’ve been in love with horses since I was very young, and as such, whenever there was a horse movie on TV, I would always watch it. Horses have been featured in movies since the dawn of film, but they were rarely in the spotlight. Their roles include working the fields, going to wars, and taking part in high-speed chases. However, there are a few movies that put horses first, giving them the main role as characters and as part of the storyline.
Today we’re going to focus on the best horse movies on Netflix, and we’re going to learn a bit about each film, how it was made, and what kind of role horses played in it. I chose these movies because they made quite an impression on me and because most of them depicted equine behavior in an accurate and fair manner. The following list includes horses from the classic film era and modern ones. Fortunately, you can watch every single one of them on Netflix.
They’re not necessarily ranked from worse to best, as this depends on personal taste. However, I placed the ones that I considered the most impressive at the end of the list. Without further adieu, let’s have a look at the best horse moves on Netflix.
Featured Horse Movie: Vanishing Knowledge.
Vanishing Knowledge is a very special horse-related film that premiered in 2022 thanks to the vision of director Ejaz Khan. This independently-made movie is inspired by true events set in North Dakota, and it follows the story of one Frank Kuntz, a well-known horseman.
As Frank struggles with a new set of hardships in his life, the focus shifts on his 300 horses, which are in danger of losing their homes. You can watch this brand new horse movie on Vimeo, and you can find out more about it by visiting its official website.
The best part is that by watching this movie, you’ll actually get to support the amazing horses featured in it. That’s because 49% of all proceeds from Vanishing Knowledge will go directly towards the horses’ care.
20. National Velvet.
National Velvet is an all-time classic. It tells the beautiful story of a 12-year-old girl that was in love with horses, and it depicts her relationship with a gelding that she won in a raffle. As it turns out, the horse is incredibly gifted, and the girl decides to train it for an upcoming horse race.
Throughout history, there have been many horses with hidden talents for jumping or racing, which later turned out to be extraordinary thanks to a bit of training and discipline. National Velvet tells such a story from the perspective of a 12-year-old. It shows us how much the little girl believed in her horse and the impact that a tight bond can have on both humans and equines.
The movie came out in 1944, and it is based on the National Velvet 1935 novel by Enid Bagnold.
19. The Story of Seabiscuit (1949).
Seabiscuit was an extraordinary racehorse from the 1940s. He won many encounters between 1933 and 1947, having one of the longest racing careers in known history. The movie, directed by David Butler and starring Shirley Temple and Barry Fitzgerald, aims to showcase the incredible achievements of this wonderful horse.
While this movie was shot in color, it includes actual black-and-white footage of Seabiscuit’s races. Some critics said that these racing segments were actually the highlight of the film, as the story itself is rather dull and over-romanced. While I don’t necessarily agree, I’m definitely no film expert.
From an equine expert’s point of view, The Story of Seabiscuit shows exactly how much work and dedication are required to train a horse and guide it towards success, even if the horse in question is so naturally gifted. I’ve also written an extensive article on Seabiscuit, which you can read right here.
18. Secretariat (2010).
Few horses can boast more fame than Secretariat: the famous winner of the Triple Crown in 1973. A Thoroughbred, Secretariat was the fastest and most enduring horse of its generation, but even with all of that natural talent, he still required incredible training and discipline.
Secretariat (2010) tells the story of a champion, or the making of one, at least. The film is based on William Nack’s 1975 book Secretariat: The Making of a Champion, and it stars Diane Lane as well as John Malkovich. Created by Disney, the movie had an impressive budget of $35 million, and it made almost twice that much at the box office.
If you’re not familiar with Secretariat and his accomplishments, this movie is definitely well enough made to guide you through the life of this exceptional horse. Alternatively, you can just read all about Secretariat in this separate article I’ve written not too long ago. Go check it out if you’re interested in this amazing horse!
17. Running Free (2000).
Even though Running Free came out in 2000, it actually depicts the story of a young boy and his horse in 1914, in the midst of World War I. Apart from its setting, its emotional story, and the impressive finale, what makes this film truly stand out is that it is narrated by Lucas Haas from the horse’s own perspective.
This way, we catch a glimpse into the mind of the main character, thus enjoying a better understanding of its motivations. The story follows a beautiful chestnut foal named Lucky, who forms a tight bond with a 12-year-old stable boy named Richard. The two set out on a dangerous but important quest, but things don’t always work out in their favor.
If you enjoy films and stories told from an animal’s point of view, Running Free is definitely worth a watch.
16. Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron (2002).
I wanted to include an animated horse movie into my list but I couldn’t figure out which one to settle on. I eventually picked Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron, otherwise known as Spirit. This 2002 horse film created by Dreamworks features Matt Damon as the voice of Spirit – a Kiger Mustang stallion that was captured during the American Indian Wars by the United States Cavalry.
What makes this horse movie stand out is that throughout its story, horses communicated with other horses using natural sounds and body movements, just like in reality. Of course, we get to hear Spirit’s own thoughts through Matt Damon’s narration, but the way spirit interacts with other equines is true to life.
Spirit was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature, but it eventually lost to a Netflix animated series. Bit of a shame if you ask me, as this film is definitely unique and spectacular in more ways than I can count.
15. A Sunday Horse (2016).
A Sunday Horse is actually one of the newer horse films on this list, and it was an absolute joy to watch. It tells the story of overcoming failure against all odds. A former junior horse jumper champion that makes a living cleaning stables gets a chance to reboot her career even though few people actually believe in her.
This is a drama pure and simple, and an emotional tale that will sometimes keep you on the edge of your seat. Overcoming adversity is what builds heroes and champions, and it’s definitely thrilling to watch Debi portrayed by Nikki Reed, as she forms a unique relationship with a horse that would prove instrumental to her redemption.
A Sunday Horse came out in 2016, and it was directed by Vic Armstrong.
14. Misty (1961).
Going back to a more classic motion picture, Misty (1961) is another must-see classic, but keep in mind that this is a children’s film. It was based on the children’s book Misty of Chincoteague, and it showcases the bond between two young orphan children and an old herd of ponies. Prominent among these ponies is Misty, a real-life Chincoteague Pony that’s arguably the star of the film.
The story follows a unique event that takes place each year in the Chincoteague area: the Pony Swim. As its name suggests, the practice involves rounding up some of the nearby wild ponies living on Assateague Island and swimming them across the channel. In order to thin out the herd, some of the ponies are then sold at auction for the benefit of the local Chincoteague Volunteer Fire Department.
If you’re looking for a beautiful children’s film about horses, Misty should definitely be your no.1 pick.
13. The Wild Stallion (2009).
The Wild Stallion tells the story of an 11-year-old girl from Cleveland who wants to take pictures of horses for a special project. She’s also interested in saving the local herd, and she wants to put a stop to nearby illegal activities that might put them in danger. She doesn’t know too much about horses at first, particularly mustangs, but she learns everything she can and even finds out about the local legend of a black stallion.
The Wild Stallion came out in 2009, and it was directed by Craig Clyde. It stars Miranda Cosgrove and Fred Ward, and it is probably one of the most underrated horse films I know of. Clearly, this is no Oscar winner, but it’s still engaging and fun enough to watch on a lazy afternoon, especially if you like horses and horse films.
12. The Horse Boy (2009).
The Horse Boy is actually a documentary feature film that follows the story of a man named Rupert Isaacson and his wife, Kristen Neff, as they try to find a cure for their son Rowan, who is autistic. After many failed attempts, the parents discover that Rowan’s condition seems to improve when he is around horses.
Of course, the therapeutic effect that horses can have on people has been documented before, but this time around it is done so in a truly professional and somewhat dramatized manner. The movie came out in 2009 and was inspired by the book The Horse Boy: A Father’s Quest to Heal His Son.
Highly acclaimed, the film was directed by Michel Orion Scott. It was also nominated for the Grand Jury Prize at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival, and it won the 2009 Feature Film Audience Award for the Lone Star States at South by Southwest.
11. The Silver Brumby (1993).
Russel Crowe is the main star of The Silver Brumby. This 1993 Australian drama-family film is based on the Silver Brumby series of novels by Elyne Mitchell. Just in case you’re not too familiar with Australian slang, brumby refers to the feral horses of Australia. The film follows a story-telling narrative, as a mother tells her daughter a fable about the prince of the brumbies.
The horse in the story needs to find his own place among his kin, all while attempting to escape The Man – a character that’s sole purpose in life is to hunt him. This horse film stands out because it was made in Australia, obviously. It was filmed in a rather unique way, and it was directed in an unusual fashion if you’ve only been watching Hollywood movies.
I say you should definitely give this one a try as well.
10. The Derby Stallion (2005).
I think Zac Efron did a pretty good job in this particular horse movie. He plays a fifteen-year-old boy named Patrick McCardle, who is being pushed into playing baseball by his father. He’s not particularly into it, and he doesn’t know what to do with his life at this point. Eventually, he discovers a passion for horses and racing, and his entire life changes for the better.
The Derby Stallion is an emotional tale of finding your true calling and honoring those that came before. The film came out in 2005, and it also stars Rob Pinkston and Bill Cobbs. While not the highest-rated horse film out there, I think it still deserves a shot, especially if you like Zac Efron.
9. Phar Lap (1983).
Phar Lap is undoubtedly one of the most memorable horse movies I’ve ever seen on Netflix. Predictably, it’s not exactly a new production as it came out in 1983. Maybe it’s just a personal preference of mine, but I tend to enjoy older movies. Maybe it’s because of the acting, or maybe the producers were just more involved back then.
At any rate, the film tells the story of a horse named Phar Lap, who eventually collapses and dies in the arms of its strapper Tommy Woodcock. I can tell you this without giving anything away because the movie itself is actually a flashback. It tells the exciting story of this powerful racehorse, including how it arrived in Australia, how it was bought, and how it was trained.
This is one of the most appreciated movies of its kind even to this day, especially in Australia.
8. Moondance Alexander (2007).
While most of these movies are relatively dramatic in nature, Moondance Alexander is a comedy-drama, which makes it feel like a breath of fresh air. The film came out in 2007 starring Kay Panabaker and Don Johnson. Moondance is played by Kay, and she finds a lost pinto horse shortly after her father’s passing. She quickly discovers the horse’s amazing jumping capabilities, and she convinces his owner to train it for a mop show.
The story is based on a series of childhood events experienced by Janeen Damian. However, HorseChannel criticized the film for its lack of storyline believability, which is a bit strange. As for Checkers the horse, it was played by three different horses throughout the movie. These were named Picasso, Trigger, and Spook.
Moondance Alexander was filmed in Alberta, Canada, and it won two significant awards at the Dixie Film Festival: Best Picture and Best Actress.
7. Flicka (2007).
Some of the best horse movies on Netflix are based on novels, and Flicka is definitely no exception. This 2007 production is inspired by the 1941 children’s novel My Friend Flicka by Mary O’Hara. It stars Alison Lohman and Tim McGraw, and it tells the story of a young girl who claims a wild horse as her own, all in the effort of proving herself to her father.
Flicka did moderately well in the Box Office, but once the movie was released on DVD, it brought in more than $40 million. Following this success, Flicka 2 came out straight to DVD in 2010, and Flicka: Country Pride followed in 2012. Flicka is basically a trilogy, but I couldn’t really say that one film is better than the other.
I definitely encourage you to see the movies yourself and tell me which one you liked best.
6. Dreamer (2005).
Dreamer is inspired by a true story, namely the story of an injured Thoroughbred racehorse named Mariah’s Storm. It came out in 2004, and it received a Critics’ Choice Award nomination for Best Family Film. It stars Kurt Russell, who takes on the role of a passionate horse trainer. Apparently, he takes better care of his horses than he does his own family, which prompts her daughter to work alongside him.
The story obviously tackles the notion of horse injuries and the recovery process. It also shows how trainers respond and react to these injuries, and why it’s always better to prevent them instead of treating them.
5. Hidalgo (2004).
If you’ve never heard about Frank Hopkins and his mustang Hidalgo, this epic biographical western film tells his story beautifully. The story takes place in Arabia in 1891 as Hopkins races his mustang against Bedouins riding pure-blooded Arabian horses. The story is somewhat dramatic, and the entire production is pleasant enough to follow. However, it’s worth noting that Hidalgo was a box office disappointment, bringing in just $108 million on a $100 million production budget.
Hidalgo stars Viggo Mortensen, Zuleikha Robinson, and Omar Sharif. The western was written by John Fusco and directed by Joe Johnston, and it was released in 2004 by Buena Vista Pictures.
4. The Horse Whisperer (1998).
The Horse Whisperer is based on the 1995 novel The Horse Whisperer by Nicholas Evans. It stars Scarlett Johansson and Robert Redford, who also directed the film himself. After a tragic accident, a teenager named Grace MacLean and her horse Pilgrim end up severely traumatized both physically and psychologically. The girl’s family eventually seeks the help of Tom Booker, a horse expert that attempts to speed up their recovery as best he can.
This is definitely one of my favorite horse movies on any streaming platform, as it tells the story of redemption while highlighting the unique bond between a horse and its keeper. The film was very well received by both critics and the general audience, as reflected by its box office success.
3. War Horse (2011).
Named one of the best ten films of 2011 by the American Film Institute and the National Board of Review, War Horse tells the touching tale of a bay Thoroughbred horse raised by a British teenager named Albert. The horse is eventually bought by the British army and changes owners quite a bit throughout its lifetime. It witnesses the tragedies of war and tackles them head-on.
This is an amazing film that showcases World War I through the innocent eyes of a brave horse. As we all know, horses were used extensively during the first World War, whether we’re talking about carrying equipment or actual hand-to-hand combat.
War Horse was produced by DreamWorks Pictures and released worldwide by Touchstone Pictures. It was a Box Office success, and it received a plethora of positive reviews from critics and audience members alike. I strongly encourage you to watch this film if you love horses, but I wouldn’t recommend watching it with your kids or younger family members.
2. Seabiscuit (2003).
If you are looking for a more modern approach to the Seabiscuit story, this 2003 film might be the better choice for you. Much like The Story of Seabiscuit that I mentioned above, Seabiscuit tells the story of an undersized and overlooked thoroughbred racehorse that became incredibly successful and popular in the United States during the Great Depression.
The film stars Tobey Maguire and Jeff Bridges. It was directed by Gary Ross, and it was nominated for no less than seven Academy Awards. At the Box Office, it grossed $148.3 million on an $87 million budget. You can definitely watch this film even if you’ve already seen the older version. While the story is pretty much the same, the way it is told and showcased is completely different.
1. Black Beauty (1994).
Black Beauty is the film that I grew up with. It is, in my humble opinion, one of the greatest horse movies ever made, and certainly the best horse movie on Netflix right now. Even today, it’s probably the best film of its kind. This 1994 American film adaptation follows Anna Sewell’s 1877 novel of the same name. In the film. Black Beauty, a black stallion in 1870s England recalls the most important events of its life starting off with its birth and continuing with a series of hardships that it endured in adulthood. As he matures, the horse goes through many owners, and not all of them had the courtesy to treat it properly.
There are quite a few other Black Beauty films in existence today, including Black Beauty (1946) directed by Max Nosseck, and Black Beauty (1971) directed by James Hill. The Adventures of Black Beauty is a TV series produced by London Weekend Television and shown by ITV. Then there’s Black Beauty (1978) by Hanna-Barbera.
When Anna Sewell wrote the book, she tried to convey that trust and faith are far more important and redeemable when compared to animal cruelty. While this statement sounds obvious in this day and age, some horse owners used to believe that treating their equine harshly would somehow make it a harder worker. Sadly, many horses are still being mistreated to this day, but that’s a story for another time.
When it comes to Black Beauty, all of the films try to convey the same message, and they all do a fair job in this regard. Whether you like the older adaptations or the newer ones, it matters little. What matters is that we all understand what the original author tried to convey.
Netflix is currently the world’s most popular streaming platform. It includes a generous selection of horse films, many of which you can enjoy instantly and in great quality. I hope that this list has proven helpful if you were struggling to find a decent horse film on Netflix. If you have any other movies that you would like me to add to this list, feel free to speak your mind in the comments!