Old Hollywood Horse-a-thon: Seven Favorite Classic Scenes with Horses

Seems like there’s a bunch of great blog-a-thon lately, and thanks to Jeff Flugel from The Stalking Moon for tipping me about this one. Page from My Love of Old Hollywood is hosting this fine Horse-a-thon, click on the image below to see all the participants.

When I first signed up to do this post, I was only going to do a Top Five, but turns out there are quite a few great classic scenes involving horses so I decided to expand it to seven. I’m going to stick with Old Hollywood [with one exception] for this purpose, though I might do a contemporary list somewhere down the line. Ok, here we go:

The Big Country – Learning to ride the Old Thunder

I absolutely love this Western and no doubt James McKay is the quintessential ‘quiet hero’ that Gregory Peck does so well. This scene speaks so much about his humility but also tenacity in trying to tame his fiance’s wild horse The Old Thunder. It’s amusing to see Peck constantly being thrown off the horse but it’s also a perfect way to show just what kind of a man McKay is.

Duel in The Sun – Taming a Stallion

Ok, I’ve just got to include another scene with Peck only because the character is so very different from one another. The unscrupulous, bad-to-the-bone Lewt is as far a way from James McKay as one can get, a total opposite in every sense of the word. This scene shows how Lewt impresses the subject of his lust, Pearl, when he skillfully tames a stallion. Peck seems to revel in playing a bad boy, a role he rarely play in his illustrious career. I don’t know if they used a stunt double in this scene or not but if they did, the editing was really good as it looked as if Peck himself tamed the stallion, which is quite a feat!

Ben-Hur: A Tale of the ChristThe Sheik’s “Children”

Ok, when it comes to Ben-Hur, people naturally think of the spectacular 11-minute chariot race. And naturally, for it is the most magnificent horse-related scenes ever conceived on film. But I’d like to highlight this more lighthearted but still awesome scene of the wealthy Sheik showing off his *children*, those magnificent Arabian horses! I LOVE Hugh Griffith’s performance, he won Best Supporting Actor in this film, and deservedly so.

Gone With the Wind – “Just like Pa…”

This heartbreaking scene isn’t so much about the pony, but the impact of riding one has on the already frail marriage of Rhett and Scarlett. Scarlett’s already lost her father in a horse riding accident, so it’s harrowing to hear her say ‘Just like Pa’ as Bonnie stubbornly runs off in her pony, displaying her headstrong trait at such a young age, just like her mother. I still get chills every time I watch this scene.

My Fair Lady – ‘Move Yer Bloomin’ Arse!’

Oh who could forget this delightfully funny scene! Eliza Doolittle at Ascot being her old unhinged-self, ahah. I saw this as a young girl and my mom had to point out the class system thing. To this day I always find this scene — and Eliza herself — so darn amusing!

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance KidThe Chase

There’s really not a lot of buddy duos more awesome than Paul Newman + Robert Redford combo. Both are ridiculously good looking, talented and have great on-screen chemistry to boot! This movie happens to be the horse-a-thon’s host Page’s choice so obviously she’d concur that this is an epic chase scene from one of the best classic westerns ever made.


The Lord of the Rings: Two Towers – Gandalf’s charge at sunrise

Now I choose to include this one as I do think The Lord of the Rings trilogy is already a modern classic. There are sooo many great scenes involving horses in this franchise that we could easily do a top ten horse scenes just from the three films alone. But this one I think stands as one of the most grandiose and memorable, both in scale and in its plot significance. Peter Jackson set up this majestic scene marvelously, starting with our beloved hero Gandalf appearing on his white horse as the sun rises, glowing like an angel with hair blowing in the wind, ready to saves the day! He and King Theoden’s nephew Eomer and his army arrived in battle at just the right moment. The scene of the massive army on horseback descending down as Saruman’s evil creatures are blinded by the rising sun is just brilliant war strategy which makes for an epic scene that never fails to amaze me.

Well, what do you think of these scenes? Do share your own favorite classic movie scenes with horses.

31 thoughts on “Old Hollywood Horse-a-thon: Seven Favorite Classic Scenes with Horses

  1. What an interesting blogathon. Nice to see Mr Peck making your list Ruth. I’m not sure about my favorite horse moments but I know my favorite movie about horses is Let It Ride starting Richard Dreyfuss.

    1. Can’t possibly leave out Mr Peck from this, I mean he does a ton of Westerns so he’s quite the horse rider 😉 I might do a contemporary list in the future, too.

      1. …I might have to have a Peck-a-thon one weekend and watch some of his films I haven’t seen – there are far too many!

        1. I wish you lived in my town as I could just lend you all 24 of his movies I owned, Dan 😀 He’s got soooo many great movies, I wouldn’t mind doing another Peck-a-thon all over again, he..he..

    1. Ahah, hope you didn’t make a mess spitting out your tea 🙂 The credit goes to Page who started the horse-a-thon, it does make you giggle doesn’t it?

  2. Great choices all, Ruth! THE BIG COUNTRY is one of my absolute favorite movies of all time, and I agree that seeing McKay ride Old Thunder in his own quiet way is a highlight (among many) in that terrific film. Good call on Hugh Griffith’s scene in BEN-HUR talking about his “children,” and you’re right about the LORD OF THE RINGS films, with all their horsey goodness. I particularly love the scene in FELLOWSHIP where the creepy Nazgul horses chase Arwen and Frodo on the way to Rivendell.

    Great job! Glad you could join in on the Horseathon fun!

    1. Hello Jeff! Thanks for the tip about this horseathon, man. I immediately thought of Peck’s films as I had seen so many of his Westerns. Glad you love The Big Country, there are lots of great horse scenes in it but this one w/ Old Thunder definitely take the cake.

      Oh I might include that scene you mentioned from ‘Fellowship’ in my contemporary horse scenes list 🙂

  3. Ruth,
    I couldn’t wait to see which scenes you chose for the Horseathon. Since GWTW has been reviewed to death I knew it wouldn’t be chosen so I was so glad to see it listed with a clip here. Anyone who’s seen GWTW recalls the tragic horse riding scene with Bonnie Blue.

    I love Ben Hur but it’s the original I’m most fond of with it’s flawless cast. I also agree with Jeff about how good The Big Country is.

    I haven’t seen any of the Lord of the Ring films so if someone asked if there was horses in it I would have had no idea. Glad you covered all eras.

    As you mentioned, I covered Butch Cassidy and the scene where the horse riders fly out of that train car is one of the best! I could watch it and the leads reactions over and over.

    You’ve created a really nice list which makes for the perfect contribution to the Horseathon. Thanks again for signing on. Blogathons give me the chance to meet new bloggers which is always an added and welcome bonus.

    1. Hello Page! Great job on your horseathon, I’m glad I found your blog and this fun blog event. I really enjoyed your ‘Butch Cassidy’ post, great pics that took me back to the awesome Western. Thanks for commenting, glad you like my choices. I couldn’t help including two from my beloved Gregory Peck 🙂

  4. Ted S.

    Interesting topic, I’ve never really paid attention much to horses in films even though I’ve watched so many westerns. Like Jeff mentioned, I love that horse chase scene in Fellowship of the Ring. Also, Braveheart has some good scenes with horses.

    1. Hi Ted, I never did either, but apparently there are TONS of great horse scenes in movies. I’m sure Braveheart has great horse scenes, might take a look at that when I’m doing my contemporary list 🙂

  5. Well at least I’ve seen your final two choices! My favourite horse moment is in True Lies when Schwarzenegger chases the baddie on the motorbike. Awesome chase with a great punchline!

  6. Really cool list, and an interesting blogathon idea. I especially like your selections from My Fair Lady and Butch Cassidy — two memorable scenes indeed!

    1. Isn’t it? Can’t believe there hasn’t been a horseathon before this as there are sooo many great horse scenes in movies.

  7. oh, my brave Rohirims and Eomer from LOTR!
    Imagine if women really fainted after hearing “move your blooming arse” 🙂
    The horsie from TANGLED was also a cute horse character!

    1. He..he.. I thought of you whenever I see Eomer… Karl is just sooo heroic in that film.

      Oh yeah, that horse from TANGLED is cute indeed. I might include him in the contemporary list Dez 🙂

  8. What about National Velvet or Black Beauty? Oddly enough on Coronation Street National Velvet was introduced to a younger character on the show by an older child minder and the kid didn’t even know who Liz Taylor was. I was watching old B&W’s when I was only 9 yrs old now I am way older than that. Makes me wonder if the youth of today knows anything about old Hollywood.

    1. I actually haven’t watched those two. I do think today’s youth probably aren’t familiar w/ Old Hollywood, I mean there are a few who do, as I know a few 16 year olds who have a Classic Tumblr dedicated to classic actors.

  9. List of films about horsesFrom Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    Jump to: navigation, search
    Movies about heroic horses constitute a popular film genre. Some examples include:

    All The Pretty Horses
    American Black Beauty
    Big Spender (2003)
    Black Beauty (1971)
    Black Beauty (1994)
    Breaking Free (1995)
    Dark Horse (1992)
    Dreamer (2005)
    Flash (2003)
    Flicka (2006)
    Flicka 2 (2010)
    Harley’s Hill (2011)
    Hidalgo (2004)
    Horses and Champions (1994)
    International Velvet (1978)
    Into the West (2003)
    In Pursuit of Honor (2008)
    Miracle of the White Stallions (1963)
    Misty (1961)
    Moondance Alexander (2007)
    My Friend Flicka (1943)
    National Velvet (1944)
    Phar Lap (1983)
    Racing Stripes
    Red Fury (1984)
    Second Chances (1998)
    Return to Snowy River (1988)
    Ruffian (2007)
    Run Wild, Run Free (1969)
    Running Free (1999)
    The Wild Stallion (2009)
    Seabiscuit (2003)
    Secretariat (2010)
    Smoky (1946)
    Smoky (1966)
    Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron (2002)
    Tangled (2010)
    The Black Stallion Returns (1983)
    The Black Stallion (1979)
    The Colt (2005)
    The Cup (2011)
    The Electric Horseman (1979)
    The Horse Boy (2009)
    The Horse in the Gray Flannel Suit (1968)
    The Horse Whisperer (1998)
    The Long Shot (2004)
    The Silver Stallion, King of the Wild Brumbies (1993)
    The Wild Horse Redemption (2007) – documentary
    The Derby Stallion (2005)
    The Man From Snowy River (1982)
    The Young Black Stallion (2003)
    Tonka (1958)
    Touching Wild Horses (2002)
    Urban Cowboy (1980)
    Virginia’s Run (2002)
    War Horse (2011)
    White Mane (1953)
    Wild Hearts Can’t Be Broken (1993)
    Two bits and pepper

  10. Ha! “Horse-a-thon” gave me a big laugh. I love the creativity of focusing on something like that.

    The Bonnie scene is a great one in Gone With the Wind. She was the only thing holding Rhett and Scarlett together.*

    *please don’t hate me for all of the mean things I wrote about GWTW that’ll post on Thursday

    1. He..he.. I’m flattered that you laugh reading my post, though I can’t take credit for that title, it’s Page’s idea 🙂 Ok I’m bracing myself as I’m going to read your GWTW post.

  11. Great post, Ruth. So many good ones, here. Funny, you used a clip (I won’t mention which) that I’ll use in a future post that’ll be out during the summer. Great minds think alike ;-). Well done.

  12. Great post, Ruth — can I expect to see this as a possible Classic Chops submission in the future, he said, staring into his crystal ball…?

    Oh, and congrats on your LAMMY nominations, too. I should let you know that my vote cannot be bought but it can be rented.

    1. Hi Ivan, I just sent you my submissions, thanks for the reminder. Ahah, well good to know about your vote. Might be beneficial in the future 🙂

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