Some of the most beloved horses of all time live on the pages of books or the silver screen. Horses’ central role in literature and film is hardly surprising given their bond with humans and their cinematic beauty. At least one of these enduring horse-centred stories is sure to catch your fancy.
Black Beauty (1877)
This children’s classic by English author Anna Sewell was the first major story told from an animal’s perspective. Though Black Beauty starts out with kind owners, he faces increasingly cruel masters. Black Beauty has had numerous movie adaptations.
Smoky the Cowhorse (1926)
This novel by Will James won the 1927 Newbery Medal for American children’s literature. Set in the Western United States, it tells a similar story to Black Beauty of a horse that develops a trusting relationship with a human but then faces harsh treatment. Smoky has had 3 film adaptations.
National Velvet (1935)
In this book by Enid Bagnold - perhaps better known for its 1944 film adaptation starring Elizabeth Taylor - 14-year-old Velvet Brown wins a horse in a raffle. Velvet decides to enter The Piebald in the Grand National, a major English horse race.
My Friend Flicka (1940)
In this book by Mary O’Hara, imaginative 10-year-old Ken lives on a Wyoming ranch and wants his own colt. He ends up with a spirited filly named Flicka. My Friend Flicka has been the subject of several adaptations, including a 2006 movie with a female protagonist, Katy.
The Black Stallion (1941)
This popular book by Walter Farley is the first in a series of 20 books. It describes the adventures of young Alec Ramsay and Arabian horse the Black or Shêtân, starting with being trapped on a desert island. There have been movie adaptations of 3 books in the series.
Misty of Chincoteague (1947)
American writer Marguerite Henry based this fictional children’s classic on real people and ponies. In the book, the first in a series and adapted into a 1961 film, siblings Paul and Maureen buy Phantom and her foal Misty at an auction. Henry brought the real-life Misty with her to author events.
In this novel by British author Michael Morpurgo, horse Joey lives on Albert’s family’s farm until Albert’s father sells him to the British army. Joey courageously rides with kind Captain Nicholls, while Albert longs to reunite with his horse. Warhorse was adapted into a 2007 play and a 2011 Steven Spielberg film.
The Horse Whisperer (1995)
In this best-seller by British author Nicholas Evans, teen Grace has a serious accident while riding her horse Pilgrim. Her mother Annie takes her to “horse whisperer” Tom Booker in Montana in the hope that he can heal her daughter as well as Pilgrim. This story was made into a 1998 movie starring Robert Redford.
Have you read or seen any of these classic horse stories? Or maybe you have another book or movie to add to the list? Let us know in the comments!
Hello, My name is Shelby Gatti, and I am the owner of Shelby Ranch. I love being able to share my passion for animals with you and your family. At Shelby Ranch you can expect a ton of family adventure from horseback riding to mechanical bull riding & axe throwing.