Horses have long been a part of our lives and thankfully, they are here to stay for the long haul. Throughout history, there have been a number of famous horses whose names we will never forget. Whether they were unforgettable characters in movies, champions in their sports, or cherished by the masses during their lifetime, these horses are forever a part of our memories.
Famous Horse Characters in TV Shows and Movies
From a young age, many of us have enjoyed movies that include our favorite animals, horses! These are just a few of the many horse characters in movies and television shows that we have loved and adored for years.
Angus – The handsome black Shire horse who was Merida’s mount in the cartoon Brave.
Argo – This beautiful Palomino mare belonged to Xena: Warrior Princess and was featured in almost every episode. She was actually played by three different horses, two mares (Tilly and Barbara) and one stallion (Mac).
Artax– The strikingly beautiful white horse that belongs to Atreyu in the cult classic, The Neverending Story, a movie.
Cisco – The loyal buckskin gelding that was awarded to and ridden by the main character, John Dunbar, in the movie Dances with Wolves.
Flash– A gorgeous chestnut colt in the endearing movie Flash, a story that follows the journey of a young boy who is determined to buy his favorite horse despite his bleak financial state.
Khan– A loyal and sweet black horse in the animated movie Mulan that supports the title character on her journey.
Lucky– A horse born in captivity that dreams of being free in the movie Running Free, which follows the horse as he escapes and learns to survive on his own in the wilderness.
Maximus- A brave and daring horse owned by the palace guard and who befriends his arch-enemy at the insistence of Rapunzel in the movie Tangled.
Mister Ed– A talking and wise-cracking palomino horse that was the title character in the television show Mister Ed and repeatedly got his owner into trouble.
Samson– The stunning and strong white horse in Sleeping Beauty that belongs to Prince Phillip and is a faithful friend to him throughout the movie.
Silver– The gorgeous white stallion recused and ridden by the title character in The Lone Ranger. Silver decided to leave his life of freedom to accompany the ranger on his journey.
Sonador– A brave and cherished chestnut race horse in the movie Dreamer that suffers from a broken leg. The movie revolves around the rescue and recovery of the horse.
Spirit: A valiant buckskin stallion in the animated movie Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron. The horse is captured by the US Cavalry and the story documents his journey and eventual freedom.
Famous Horse Actors
Sometimes we forget that the horses in the movies and television shows are played by normal horses that are trained to work in film. The following are some of the most famous equine actors of the past century.
Bamboo Harvester- The beautiful palomino gelding that portrayed the title character in the TV comedy show, Mister Ed. The horse played the character for the show’s entire 5-year run.
Buck- A beautiful buckskin gelding ridden by actor Lorne Greene in the TV show Bonanza. Lorne bought and donated Buck to a therapeutic center to live out the rest of his days.
Cass Ole – This beautiful black Arabian stallion played the Black Stallion in the movie by the same name.
Fritz– The first horse in history to be specifically named in the credits as the co-star in a film. The adored horse appeared in 8 films and even got his own fan mail.
Pie– A chestnut gelding that Jimmy Stewart rode in a number of his western films. The duo was said to be close friends for 22 years.
Silver– A stunning white horse that appeared in over 70 films, including 50 that he starred in alongside Buck Jones, a famous actor in western movies.
Trigger– A gorgeous palomino horse that appeared in a variety of films including The Adventures of Robin Hood and alongside Roy Rogers in various western movies.
Famous Horses in Literature
Although the written word is often overshadowed these days by streaming entertain, novels were once our best source of imagination. These are some of the most memorable and famous horses from literature.
Arod –A grey horse owned by the Sindarin elf Legolas in Lord of the Rings, a famous novel written by J.R.R. Tolkien.
Duchess – Duchess was the name of Black Beauty’s mother in the novel by Anna Sewell.
Flicka –A spunky, wild filly who injures herself when she tries to escape in the novel My Friend Flicka, was written by Mary O’Hara.
Ginger – Ginger was the feisty sorrel mare who was a friend to Black Beauty in the novel by the same name.
Joey– A bay thoroughbred Army horse who recounts his long journey back to his previous owner in the charming and adventurous novel War Horse.
Little Blackie- The striking black horse ridden by the main character Mattie Ross in the 1968 novel and movie True Grit, written by Charles Portis.
Merrylegs – Yet another horse in Black Beauty. This is another one of the horses that shared a stable with Black Beauty.
Phillip- Edmund Pevensie’s talking chestnut-colored war stallion in The Chronicles of Narnia, a series of books written by C.S. Lewis.
Pilgram– A beloved horse that is injured during a freak accident and struggles to overcome severe post-traumatic stress and debilitating injuries in the novel The Horse Whisperer.
Rocinante– A workhorse owned by the title character in the novel Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes. His character was like a mirror of Don Quixote, awkward and rugged.
Shadowfax– The fantastic silver-colored horse that Gandalf the White rides in Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien.
Famous Race Horses
Horse racing has long been a popular equine sport and the allure of it has captivated our entire world for many decades. Champion race horses are recognized internationally for their capabilities and there is no surprise that some of these horses are so famous that even people who aren’t race fans can recognize their names.
Affirmed- A chestnut-colored, American Thoroughbred horse that became the 11th winner of the American Triple Crown in 1977 and won an impressive 22 out of 29 races in his career.
American Pharoah- An American Thoroughbred racehorse that dominated the race world in 2015 and becoming the first horse to win the American Triple Crown as well as the Breeder’s Cup Classic in the same year.
Barbaro- An American Thoroughbred racehorse that took first place in the 2006 Kentucky Derby. Unfortunately, he injured his leg so severely in the 2006 Preakness Stakes that it end his life in 2007 at the young age of 3.
Citation: An American Thoroughbred racehorse born in 1945 that became the first horse to win a million dollars. He also won the American Triple Crown in 1948.
Justify: This American Thoroughbred racing horse was the 13th winner of the Triple Crown in 2018 and earned over 3.5 million dollars.
Man O’ War- Often touted as the greatest racehorse of all time, this chestnut-colored American Thoroughbred won an astounding 20 out of 21 races.
Nasrullah: A Thoroughbred racing horse from Ireland that became a champion racehorse in Europe, winning both the Coventry Stakes and the Champion Stakes.
Phar Lap: One of New Zealand and Australia’s most famous Thoroughbred racehorses in history. He won 37 of the 51 races he competed in during the late 1920s and early 1930s.
Red Rum: A champion racing Thoroughbred from Ireland and the only horse in history to win the Aintree Grand National race three times.
Seabiscuit- A light, bay-colored American Thoroughbred racing horse that was one of the major money winning racehorses before the 1940s. He won a number of high profile races throughout his short career and dominated the hearts of Americans during the Great Depression.
Secretariat (Big Red)- A magnificent American Thoroughbred racehorse that broke records and to this day has the fastest time for the Kentucky Derby. He won the Triple Crown in 1973 and earned an impressive $1.316 million.
War Admiral- A champion American Thoroughbred racehorse that was the 4th winner of the Triple Crown in 1937. He won an impressive 21 out of the 26 races he started and was the archrival of Seabiscuit.
Famous War Horses
During the many wars in our history, horses served as unreplaceable forms of transportation and protection. They often suffered the ultimate sacrifice for their service. The following are just a few of the most famous war horses of the past.
Bucephalus- A valiant black horse owned by Alexander the Great and ridden during the Battle of Hydaspes in 326 BCE. The city Bucephala was founded in his memory.
Blueskin- A half-Arabian gray horse that George Washington rode during the American Revolutionary War and was the horse depicted the most with Washington in portraits due to his color and striking appearance.
Cincinnati- A loyal horse ridden by Ulysses S. Grant during the American Civil War. It was Grant’s favorite horse and is most depicted in paintings with the General.
Comanche- A fearless horse that was bought by the US Army in 1868. He carried Captain Myles Keogh in the Battle of Little Bighorn of 1876 and emerged the fight as the lone survivor.
Reckless- A chestnut-colored Mongolian mare that was purchased by the US Marine Corps, trained to serve as an ammunition packhorse, given the title of Sergeant and later received two Purple Hearts for valor.
Nelson- A chestnut-colored horse that had a white blaze down his nose and was owned by George Washington during the Revolutionary War.
Traveller- A courageous, grey American saddlebred horse that was owned and ridden by Robert E. Lee during the Civil War. He was extremely fast and brave in the face of danger.
Famous Show Horses in Various Disciplines
There have been a number of famous show horses throughout history and unless you are an avid fan of each discipline, some of these names may not be familiar, but they are nonetheless in their sport.
Coolcorron Cool Diamond- A brilliant bay-colored horse that excelled in the sport of show jumping and ranked at the of the sport. He won a great number of events and was owned by the Duchess of York.
Halla- An extremely talented, bay thoroughbred mare that won 3 gold medals in the Olympics in show jumping. She is the only horse to accomplish this feat of victory.
Hollywood Dun It- A captivatingly beautiful, dun-colored American quarter horse stallion that dominated the sport of reining and had a notably charming demeanor.
Rugged Lark- A bay-colored quarter horse stallion that was the AQHA’s World Show Superhorse in both 1985 and 1987. He won the AQHA championship 3 times throughout his career.
Scamper- This bay-colored American Quarter horse was considered one of the best barrel horses of all time. He, along with his owner Charmayne James, won the National Finals Rodeo multiple times from 1984-1993.
Other Famous Horses
While the following horses may not fit into a specific category, they are very famous in their own right. These are the names of some of the most famous horses from around the world.
Black Nell- A well-known black stallion owned by Wild Bill Hickok and a staple in many of the stories written about the pair throughout Will Bill’s lifetime.
Brooklyn Supreme (Brookie) – Born in 1928, this red roan Belgian grew into a stallion that is thought to have been one of the heaviest horses in history. He weighed a shocking 3,200 pounds and he measured 10 foot, 2 inches around his girth.
Cholla– Known as “the painting horse”, this mustang-quarter horse was able to hold paintbrushes in his mouth and ‘paint’ abstract art on canvases.
Clever Hans– An intelligent Orlov Trotter horse that was owned by Wilheilm Von Osten. His owner claimed that the horse was able to solve arithmetic problems and various other tasks.
King– (King P-234)- A magnificent quarter horse stallion that is considered to be the major sire of the American quarter horse breed.
Sampson– A Shire gelding horse that was born in 1846 in England and is the tallest horse on record, standing an astounding 21.2 ½ hands tall, which is 86.5 inches.
These famous horses are cemented into the foundation of our equine history and many of them forged the way for future generations. Whether they were characters in books and film or they lived glorious lives among us, these famous horses will always hold a special place in our hearts.
- Wikipedia – (source 1) (source 2) (source 3)
- IMDB – www.imdb.com
- True West Magazine – https://truewestmagazine.com/wild-bill-truth/
- Cholla– http://chollathepaintinghorse.com/
- Coolcorron Cool Diamond- https://www.horsesportireland.ie/death-show-jumping-champion-coolcorron-cool-diamond/
- Xenaville – http://www.xenaville.com/argtv.html