There's a reason horse movies are a staple at the box office: Horses are pretty. Really, really pretty. The magnificent way they run, the way their manes fly in the wind and, of course, those deep, soulful eyes that show us what noble creatures they are ... oh, sorry, was I getting carried away?
It's easy to do when it comes to movies about horses: They get filed away under "sports movies" because very often, like in 'Secretariat,' which opens today, it's all about the world of horse racing. But, really, every horse movie is a romance. Sometimes the love story is between two horses, but very often, it's between the horse and the human who believes in them.
Read on for some of our favorite scenes of humans and horses falling in love in the movies, even if they're eventually destined for someone of their own species.
1. Love at first sight: 'The Black Stallion' (1979)
It's a classic scene: Little boy sees a wild stallion that no one else can tame and immediately falls in love. In this story, after a shipwreck, the boy and the horse find freedom after a shipwreck and bond via glorious romps on the beach. (It's practically 'The Blue Lagoon!')
2. Courtship: 'Flicka' (2006)
Sure, you might own that horse, but she's got a will and a mind of her own, and good luck getting her to do what you want. In this scene from 'Flicka,' Katie (Alison Lohman) tries to get Flicka to submit to a harness, and gets a good hard kick for her efforts. Love hurts! (Look at that killer bruise.) But finally, she gains the horse's trust.
3. Meeting His Friends: 'The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring' (2001)
By now, the horse-human relationship has progressed to the point where the human wants to show off a little, like Gandalf (Ian McKellen) when summoning his epically handsome white horse, Shadowfax. On seeing the stunning horse, Legolas -- and hordes of 'Rings' die-hards -- are suitably impressed.
4. Showing Off: 'The Man From Snowy River' (1982)
Getting your horse to come when called (or whistled for) is pretty cool, but if you want to really demonstrate your amazing bond, try a little stunt like this unbelievable footage of a rugged ride down a steep, nearly vertical cliff, from the Australian period piece, 'The Man From Snowy River.' Love how the horse jumps over the camera to begin its impossible descent.
5. Going the distance: 'Hidalgo' (2004)
Only humans who truly love their horses (and vice versa) ever win the big race in the movies. Here, Hidalgo and his human, Viggo Mortensen, win a tough desert race with a proud prince (the race starts about a minute into the clip). The slow-mo victory lap in the hard-won ocean finish line will make any animal (or Viggo) lover's heart swell with pride. And maybe a little jealousy.
6. Proving your love: 'Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron' (2002)
You're a brave Native American who's won your wild mustang's heart. Now, there's nothing he won't do for you, including derailing the train engine he's forced to pull for the evil white man. And after a desperate pursuit, he'll make that epic leap (at 5:51 in this clip) across a canyon gorge, leaving those would-be Yankee conquerors in the dust.
7. The occasional argument: 'True Lies' (1994)
Humans have got to remember, a horse has its limits, and jumping from one high-rise roof to the next is definitely not something Arnold Schwarzeneggar's ride in 'True Lies' is going to agree to. That elevator ride was already pushing it!
And after that, depending on which loving YouTube horse-movie fanvid, you watch, the relationship can have a different Hollywood ending.
8. Classic happily ever after: 'National Velvet' (1944)
A blissful tribute to a girl (Elizabeth Taylor) and her horse (the Pie) literally ends with a ride into the sunset.
9. Ecstasy in the saddle: 'Flicka' (2006)
We tried to keep this article tasteful, really, we did, but watch this fanvid of Alison Lohman's ecstatic ride and tell us that her sheer joy at riding 'Flicka' doesn't demonstrate just why girls prefer horses to boys at a certain stage. Think that's bad? It could be a lot worse, like this 'Flicka' vid scored to Mariah Carey's 'Touch My Body.'
10. Till death do us part: 'The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers' (2002)
Someone with a great sense of humor put together this fanvid of a semi-conscious Aragorn (sensitive but manly horse lover Viggo Mortensen, again) being nuzzled by his horse, Hasufel, after a near-fatal fall. The kicker: It's scored to Marvin Gaye's 'Let's Get It On.' Watch to the end as Aragorn eagerly sees his bride (and no, it's not Liv Tyler).
11. I'm flattered, but spoken for: 'Black Beauty' (1994)
Sometimes this horse-human romance thing isn't the main story and our leading horse actually ends up with ... another horse! There have been some beautiful (and heartbreaking) filmic horse romances, but can any of them top Black Beauty's love for doomed Ginger? *sniff* (You can't have a horse movie list without a touch of tragedy, alas.) If you're holding out for that all-horse happy ending, cue up the final scene of 'Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron,' when Spirit is reunited with his herd, including the love of his life, Rain.