Top Five… Horses in Movies

Giddee up for an equine movie top five from Ross McG. With Steven Spielberg’s War Horse currently galloping through cinemas, we take a look at some other four-legged big screen wonders. No animals were harmed during the writing of this feature…

5. The horse from True Lies (1994)

Horses get a raw deal when it comes to cinema. They may be beautiful, majestic creatures, but I’ve always felt horses have been a bit lacking in the brains department. How else could you explain them letting a never-ending parade of actors ride them into certain doom in various seen-it-all-before battle sequences? But what horse wouldn’t want to have Arnold Schwarzenegger in its saddle? If you said you planned an action scene involving Arnold, Art Malik, a motorbike and a horse now you would be laughed out of the studio boardroom, but back in the innocent mid-90s this meant box office gold. This horse takes Arnie into a hotel and up an elevator. Not that surprising really, as this is a movie in which Tom Arnold avoids a hail of machine gun bullet fire by hiding behind a lamppost.

4. Bullseye from Toy Story 2 (1999) and Toy Story 3 (2010)

Every cowboy needs a horse. The Lone Ranger had Silver, Roy Rogers had Trigger and Sheriff Woody has Bullesye. Giving Woody a backstory in the second instalment of Pixar’s glorious trilogy was a genius move, allowing us to meet the Round-Up gang. Yes, peppy cowgirl Jessie is the obvious scene-stealer, thanks mainly to her singing that song that makes grown men blubber like big babies (not like the scary Big Baby in TS3, mind), but the relationship between man and his horse has the real depth. When Woody behaves like a jerk – and he does, a lot (he has attempted murder of space men on his rap sheet) – Bullseye is always there to either give him a doleful look or ride to the rescue.

3. The horse from the ferry in The Ring (2002)

And now for something completely different. The scariest horse in cinema. We have established that horses have been treated badly in the movies: I’m not sure what was worse for the horse from Far And Away – being the horse that gets punched by tiny Tom Cruise or being the horse from Far And Away. At least the horse from Blazing Saddles who was punched by Mongo got to do some great stunt acting. Spare a thought then for the poor horse from The Ring, a decent if inferior remake to Japanese horror Ringu except in one vital way: Ringu didn’t have a horse hurtling itself off a ferry. They shoot horses, don’t they? Nope. They fling them off ferries.

2. Tír na nÓg from Into The West (1992)

Seabiscuit? Bite me. Black Beauty? Ugly compared to Tír na nÓg, the horse at the heart of this brilliant early 90s Irish film. It has Gabriel Byrne. It has Colm Meaney. It has Brendan Gleeson. There is an established mathematical equation that says if you have one of these actors in your film it will be good. If you have two of them it will be exceptional. If you have all three it will be amazing. If you have all three and a horse… you have one of the greatest films ever made. Great hoss.

1. Cheval from A Town Called Panic (2009)

And now we come to The Horse De La Résistance. Red Rum was good at winning horse races, but could he play the piano? Or drive a car? Those things are all in a day’s activities for Cheval, or Horse, from the utterly fantastic and indescribable A Town Called Panic, the best animated film you haven’t seen. In a neat twist in this French/Belgian/Luxembourgois production, Horse is actually the leader of a cute gang of toys that also includes Cowboy and Indian. The plot is ludicrous, but suffice to say there are 50 million bricks, a journey to the centre of the earth, alien underwater creatures who steal walls, a huge snowball-throwing robot and a giant piece of toast. And throughout it all, our hero Horse keeps a cool head. Neigh bother.

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6 Responses to “Top Five… Horses in Movies”

  1. There has never been a finer horse than Tír na nÓg and you know it McG!

    It’s like trying to say there’s a braver superhero than Batman! or a better character actor than Colm Meaney!? ludicrous!

  2. haha Peter E! Batman is indeed brave. There are no character actors. There is just Meaney.

  3. Maybe not the best horse in a movie but the best scene in a movie with a horse has to be The Commitments.

  4. Richard Harris was a great horse.
    ….although maybe I’m missing the point here….

    Seriously, though – Town Called Panic is so cool.

  5. OH!OH!OH! “TRUCK??!! WHAT TRUCK??!!
    That horse in Raiders Indy steals to chase after the TRUCK being used to shift the Ark of the Covenant after he’s done blowing up the mad lookin’ plane that was Plan A. Yep – that was a good movie horse cos none of those crazy stunts in and around the TRUCK wouldn’t have happened if he hadn’t caught up with it. Hence the horse.

  6. mcguinnr… nice Man Called Horse gag.
    indy horse was great, excellent shout. the horse from Last Crusade’s tank battle almost made the list.
    Tank? What tank?

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