After a beautiful bank holiday weekend filled with riding, blackberry picking, long walks, successfully putting off a number of house hold and stable chores and far too much food I curled up on the couch with my other half on Monday night and watched The Time Traveller’s Wife (such a great film we’ve seen it before but still it gets her reaching for the tissues every time!!)
Anyway got me thinking about my favourite horsy films, so here’s a list of my top ten:
1. HIDALGO (2004)
Based on a true story of the greatest long distance horse race ever run. The Ocean Of Fire is a 3,000-mile survival race across the Arabian Desert and was competition was restricted to the finest Arabian horses ever bred from the purest and noblest lines. In 1890 a wealthy Sheik invited an American, Frank T. Hopkins (played by Vigo Mortensen – yummm!), and his horse to enter the race for the first time. Hopkins is a Pony Express courier and together with his mustang, Hidalgo enters the race. The story follows their adventures as the underdogs; the race becomes not only a matter of pride and honour but a race for their survival!
Vigo Mortensen bought the horse who played the title character after the film was completed (can this man get anymore perfect!!)
In the final horse scene, 550 different horses were used. The horses all came from different owners, so to tell them apart, their hooves were branded.
2. THE HORSE WHISPERER (1998)
Directed by and starring Robert Redford this film is a fantastic film but a definite tearjerker! A teenage girl, Grace, and her best friend, Judith, take their horses out for a mornings ride when the girls are involved in a terrible accident. A truck hits them; Judith and her horse are killed, while Grace and her horse Pilgrim are seriously injured, both physically and mentally. In an attempt to bring Pilgrim, back from his now savage condition and help Grace deal with what has happened, Grace’s mother Annie takes them to Montana in search of Tom Brooker (Redford). Tom is a “horse whisperer” with the ability to communicate with horses and helps to heal the souls of both Grace and Pilgrim.
“Horse Whispering” is something of a false term. The phrase came about as originally Native American’s would sometimes tame a horse by jumping on its back and biting its ear to make it stop bucking (the pain would be worse if the rider’s teeth were jerked by the horse’s head, so the horse would soon learn to calm and stop bucking. Some observers misunderstood what was happening and assumed the rider was whispering in the horses’ ear to calm it down.
3. SEA BISCUIT (2003) (The original film THE STORY OF SEABISCUIT was 1949)
The true story of Seabiscuit, a great racehorse in the US during the great depression. Not only does Seabiscuit inspire a nation giving them hope during the bleakest days of the depression but he also breathes new life into the man who buys him, the man who trains him and the man who rides him.
Over 40 horses are featured in the film, with 10 sharing the title role of Seabiscuit. The horses running distances never exceeded three furlongs, or three eights of a mil, per take.
4. SPIRIT: STALLION OF THE CIMARRON (2002)
This animated film follows Spirit a young coly who becomes leader of his herd until he is captured by humans then sold to the US army where a colonel vows to tame him. He manages to escape with the help of a native American boy and then finds his true love with one of his tribe’s mares.
Real horses were recorded for all the audio. At no time were any humans used for any of the horse characters!
Spirit was modelled on a 3-year-old Kiger stalling named Donner – what a handsome horse he must have been!!
5. DREAMER: INSPIRED BY A TRUE STORY (2005)
A horse trainer, Ben Crane (Kurt Russell), believes that a severely injured racehorse deserves another chance. He accepts the racehorse as a severance package when he looses his job. The horse once a great racer has suffered a broken leg and is considered a lost cause. Out of work and with few options left Ben is encouraged by his daughter Crane to nurse the mare back to health and see if she has a change at the Breeder’s Cup. As the mare injuries heal, the father and daughter begin to bond and to heal their own relationship.
Kurt Russell bought Dakota Fanning a real Palamino horse, which she name Goldie – lucky lucky girl!!!
The film was loosely inspired by the story of the mare Mariah’s Storm. A filly who was being pointed towards the Breeder’s Cup Juvenile Fillies in 1993 but then broke her cannon bone. She recovered and later won some graded races. She started in the 1995 Breeder’s Cup Distaff and finished ninth. She was owned by Thunderhead Farms and trained by Don Von Hemel.
6. BLACK BEAUTY (1994)
There have been many different versions of Anna Sewell’s classic book, Black Beauty. The story follows Black Beauty, a beautiful black stallion as he recalls his life from his birth, through her carefree life as a colt, and the many hardships he has suffered. During Beauty’s life, he passes through the hands of both the kind and the cruel but ultimately find happiness when he is reunited with the boy he loved.
Black Beauty was played by a Quarter Horse stallion named Docs Keppin Tim, who also played the role of another famous fictional black horse, The Black in ‘Adventures of the Black Stallion’ – what a talented horse!!
Black Beauty was also played by a few other horses throughout the movie including a Saddlebred mare and a Friesian as well.
7. NATIONAL VELVET (1944)
Velvet Brown (Liz Taylor) lives the dream we all had as children – win a horse in a lottery and turn him into a campion – was it just me then!? Young Velvet disguises herself as a boy and wins the Grand National steeplechase on her beloved pie. It is a classic amongst horse films, a great feel good Sunday film!
After filming Liz Taylor got to keep the horse…of course!
8. THE BLACK STALLION (1979)
While travelling with his father, Alec becomes fascinated by an Arabian stallion that is stabled on the ship he is sailing on. When the ship tragically sinks both he and the horse survive only to be stranded on a deserted island. Alec bonds with the horse and when finally rescued they both return to his home where they soon meet Henry Dailey, a once successful trainer. Together they begin training The Black to race against the fastest horses in the world.
There is a scene after The Black has jumped overboard and Alec is in the water yelling for help and The Black is swimming towards him. Suddenly the horse begins to tip over, his head plunges underwater and he starts to thrash in the water his hooves pawing the air. This wasn’t faked but in fact was a serious accident caused by the guide wires that were being used to control the horse. Too much force was applied on the turn and the horse went under, a serious cause for alarm on the set. Luckily the horse righted himself and was fine!
9. RACING STRIPES (2005)
In the middle of a thunderstorm a travelling circus accidentally leaves behind some very precious cargo – a baby zebra, Stripes! The foal is rescued by a horse farmer, a retired thoroughbred trainer, who takes him home to his young daughter. The farm borders the Turfway Racetrack, where skilled thoroughbreds compete for horse racing’s top honour, the Kentucky Crown. From the first moment Stripes lay eyes on the track, he’s hooked and thinks it’s his calling. The film follows Stripes train to achieve his dream of being a racehorse!
The Shetland pony, Tucker, played by Dustin Hoffman turned grey for winter during the filming so the animal trainers had to paint him brown!
This is a great coming of age story. 16yr old Katy wants to take over the family’s mountainside horse ranch but her father insists she finish boarding school. Katy finds a mustang in the hills near her ranch and is determined to tame a mustang to prove to her father she is strong enough to run the ranch. Katy names the mustang Flicka and begins training and riding her. The film follows their adventures and see Katy fall in love with Flicka and learn the hard way about responsibility.
Filming had to be stopped in April 2005, when a thoroughbred, halter-broke horse used in the film sadly died in a freak accident on set. After extensive independent investigates by both LA Animal Services and American Human no negligence was found on the part of the production and death was determined to be an accident.
AND THE HORSEY FILMS THAT I’M MOST LOOKING FORWARD TO ARE:
Stephen Spielberg is set to film this version of the play of the same name, which is a stage adaptation of the book War Horse a children’s novel by Michael Morpurgo. The story follows a young man Albert and his horse Joey and how their bond is broken when Joey is sold to the cavalry and sent to the trenches of World War 1. Unable to bear the thought of his friend facing the battlefields alone, he lies about his age and enlists.
This was one of the most moving and beautiful plays I’ve ever seen and with Stephen Spielberg promising to keep the horses as the driving force of the story and the stars of the film I can’t wait for this one! It’s very early days with filming not even started so a long wait yet!
THE SECRETARIAT (2010)
Another real treat of a film for horse lovers! This is based on a true story of Penny Chenery. The film follows housewife and mother Penny agree to take over her ailing father’s Virginia based Meadow Stables, despite her lack of horseracing knowledge. With help from veteran trainer, Lucien Laurin (John Malkovich), Penny trains the horse Secretariat and guides the horse to become the first horse in twenty-five years to win the US Triple Crown of Thoroughbred Racing.
The official trailer looks amazing!
Let’s just hope they do Secretariat justice!!
Are there any films you think have been missed off? Suggestions would be appreciated love finding out about new films! Just contact me at Equestrianoutfitters.co.uk suppliers of riding boots, riding hats, jodhpurs and any horse riding equipment and I can add the films to the list!