We all know that everyone’s favorite part of any movie is the horses, right? Wait. Not everyone? Just us? Either way, we love them. So we’re taking a moment to recognize our favorite animated equines from the Disney library.
As equestrians, there’s no question that our favorite part of pretty much any movie is the horses. It’s always the horses. That’s especially true of Disney movies. After all, who can resist a horse with plenty of personality and animated anthropomorphism (here’s looking at you, Max)? So, we want to take a look at and appreciate some the equines that graced Disney’s animated screens.
Here is Part I. The horses are listed in alphabetical order, so if you notice a prominent horse missing and its name comes later in the alphabet, have no fear! We’ll discuss them in Part II.
Achilles appears in The Hunchback of Notre Dame and The Hunchback of Notre Dame II. He is Phoebus’ horse and manages to develop some much-needed snark by the sequel. He even is able to answer some of Phoebus’s rhetorical questions by tapping his hoof repeatedly.
His name came from the line in the original movie that was a pun on the Greek god Achilles — Phoebus commands, “Achilles, heel!” Later in the film, he says, “Achilles, sit,” and the horse sits on the head of an enemy soldier.
A fun fact — Achilles’s name was completely improvised by Kevin Kline (the voice of Phoebus). Originally the horse was going to remain nameless, but Kline’s improvisation gave the horse a name.
As for his breed, Achilles seems to be an Andalusian. According to Disney’s fandom wiki, “The fact that Phoebus owns one indicates that he either comes from a background of nobility, has earned it through outstanding military service, or (most likely) both.”
Ah, Angus. Who can’t love Angus? He’s Merida’s loyal Shire horse in Brave. He’s a true black with a white blaze and fetlocks — and feathers that would make of us pull out our own feathers in frustration while trying to keep the mud and ice out of them. Angus can be “balky, stubborn or faint-hearted at times, but is ultimately very loyal to Merida,” according the Disney’s Fandom.com wiki. The horse and rider have a strong bond, as Merida can get him to do all sorts of things. Also, she won’t let anyone else in the castle take care of him.
Angus first appears in the film during the musical number “Touch the Sky,” where Merida rides on him through the forest shooting arrows at targets. Frankly, I think this spurred a lot of interest in the sport of mounted archery. I mean, who doesn’t want to gallop through the forest shooting targets, climbing cliffs, and discovering waterfalls?
So, you’ve got to love a horse with an ego — even if you don’t particularly want to ride one or deal with it on a regular basis. Buck is just that horse. He’s the self-centered, action-loving horse from Home on the Range. Heck, he’s even got some solid martial arts skills (as horses often do).
Buck is Sheriff Sam Brown’s Quarter Horse and is best friends with Rusty, the sheriff’s dog. Like most stallions, Buck has a mind of his own. He is impetuous and egotistical, but can be helpful when he wants to be. By the end of the movie, he even finds his softer side and helps out the cows. So even though he comes across like a bit of a hotshot, in the end he stands for justice and won’t let people get away with things.
Speaking of shots, you can’t help but appreciate the shots fired by Maggie, when she refers to Buck as the “Stallion of the Ci-moron,” a reference to the 2002 DreamWorks animated film Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron.
Bullseye first appears in Toy Story 2 and is Jessie’s horse — although according to his backstory, he originally was Woody’s in Woody’s Roundup. In fact, Bullseye is the first toy Woody meets when he’s at Al’s apartment in the second movie. Later, of course, he and Jessie become Andy’s and then eventually Bonnie’s (yes, I still cry at the end of every one of these movies).
Bullseye is a loyal friend and generally is pretty happy to play with anyone — Woody, Jessie, or his owner (although his strongest bond is with Jessie). Really, he’s more like a golden retriever than a horse (but I’ve known a few geldings like that in my day). He enjoys simple activities like running, sprinting, and playing. He will go wherever his friends go and will do what they tell him. His breed is unknown, but based on the fact that he’s supposed to be Woody’s western mount in Woody’s Roundup, we’ll assume he is a Quarter Horse or another stock breed. But who knows?
Frou Frou is the horse in The Aristocats. She’s one of the few talking horses in the Disney cartoon library — mainly because she appears in a movie where most of the animals can speak.
Frou Frou is one of the few talking horses in the Disney cartoon library, fortunate enough to live in a movie where most of the critters have the power of speech. She’s part of a happy extended family that includes Duchess and her three kittens, and like most of the horses of her time, she’s a working animal.
Some think there is a possibility that she could be named after Frou-Frou, Vronsky’s steeplechase mare in Anna Karenina.
Old Gunpowder might be one you missed, but he’s featured in The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, the second half of the 1949 film The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad. The ironically named Gunpowder was a horse that Ichabod borrowed from a farmer to travel to the Van Tassel Farm for the Halloween Party and back home. Although the horse clearly is past his prime, he has no trouble moving a bit more spryly when being chased by the Headless Horseman.
Khan is the noble steed in Mulan and Mulan II. In the first film, he aids Mulan in the war agains the Huns. Being a family of some noble means, it’s not surprise the Fa family would have some horses of their own — hence Khan. He is a Ferghana horse, a now extinct breed that was known for its bold demeanor. What better horse to take into war?
Although he can’t speak, Khan is incredibly expressive and usually communicates through snorts, whinnies, and body language. He also shows a variety of human expressions, such as falling down and laughing at Mulan’s failed attempt to act like a man or snarking at various things (like the naked soldiers going to bathe). It does appear that Mushu — the dragon Khan definitely dislikes — can understand him and will respond.
Khan’s courage and loyalty know no bounds, since he chose to follow Mulan during an avalanche. His name translates to price, but can also mean king or leader. We think that’s pretty fitting for the noble steed.
Who are your favorite animated Disney horses? We’ll take the time to remember even more of them in the second part to this piece. Stay tuned!