Those who love their horses know that the bond between human and equine is a beautiful thing. Horses have stolen the hearts of people throughout history, and continue to do so today. In fact, plenty of celebrities, past and present, have formed deep attachments to horses and their love is well-documented. You already know these names and faces, but how many of these did you know were horse lovers, too?
Johnny Depp, American Actor
A native of the horse-centric state of Kentucky, Johnny Depp has gained fame from his immersive roles in blockbusters like the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise and Edward Scissorhands, but you probably didn’t know that he is an avid horseman. After bonding with his co-star horse Goldeneye while shooting Sleepy Hollow in 1999, Depp adopted the one-eyed horse when he heard rumors that it might be put down after filming concluded. He has owned horse farms throughout his life and foregoes stuntmen when horsemanship is required. See his roles in movies like The Lone Ranger and The Man Who Cried as strong examples of his skill.
William Shatner, American Actor
A lover of horses since he was a child, the original Captain James T. Kirk has pursued many on-screen riding experiences. One of his most memorable was during work on the TV movie Alexander the Great in 1964, though he also worked on numerous TV and film Westerns in the past. Shatner owns Belle Reve farm in Kentucky where he and his wife Elizabeth, also a talented equestrian, breed American Quarter Horses, Saddlebreds, and Standardbreds. Along with the many other hats he has worn in Hollywood throughout the decades, Shatner is an author, and published the ultimate love letter to his hooved companions in 2017, Spirit of the Horse: A Celebration in Fact and Fable.
Elizabeth Taylor, British Actress
Elizabeth Taylor was given a pony by her godfather when she was a young girl growing up in England, and her love for horses never wavered for the rest of her life. It’s not surprising that her role as precocious horse-racer Velvet Brown in 1944’s National Velvet was the one that cemented her celebrity. And although she broke her back in a riding fall during filming, she kept her co-star horse King Charles (a grandson of the famous racehorse Man o’ War) when production was complete. Taylor was an avid horseracing fan and attended many races throughout Europe and the United States as a high profile guest. She even lived on a breeding farm in Loudoun County, VA during her 1976-1982 marriage to Virginia politician and horseman John Warner.
Sir Winston Churchill, British Prime Minister
Although not the most discussed dimension of the famed WWII-era British PM’s life, Winston Churchill was an accomplished equestrian with a deep love for horses. He began riding as a child, raced horses, competed in many polo matches, and bravely defended his country as a cavalry soldier in his younger years. He also hunted on horseback well into his 80s! The leader rode more than any other Prime Minister in history, and you don’t have to search very hard to find Churchill quotes about horses and riding. He often spoke of his love, saying things like, “there is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man.”
Julia Roberts, American Actress
Julia Roberts memorably played the daughter of a horse breeder in her 1995 hit Something to Talk About, and her real-life love for horses is unquestionable. Although a relatively private celebrity off the red carpet, it’s well known that Roberts owns a ranch in New Mexico where she and her family keep numerous horses. In 2007, she spent weeks living with a nomadic family in Mongolia for the PBS Nature documentary Wild Horses of Mongolia in which she chronicled the ways that the native horses on the steppes of Central Asia are central to human life there.
Jamie Foxx, American Actor
When Jamie Foxx landed his role in Quentin Tarantino’s 2012 western Django Unchained, he was determined to ride his own horse in the film. Tarantino loved the idea and cast Cheetah, who Foxx had received as a birthday gift a few years earlier and sparked the actor’s love of riding, as Tony. Foxx has been known to share his horse love, too, by gifting horses to friends the way he was originally gifted Cheetah. For instance, when his buddy Robert Downey, Jr. celebrated his 45thbirthday in 2010, Foxx gave him two horses for his ranch in Malibu.
Roy Rogers & Dale Evans, American Western Performers
Roy Rogers and his wife Dale Evans were not only legendary for their cowboy and cowgirl-centric Hollywood careers—but they were also famous horse lovers in their off-screen life together. For his first starring role in the movie, Under Western Stars, Rogers was offered the choice between five different horses to ride. He bonded so well with his chosen palomino steed, Golden Cloud that he purchased him after filming and renamed him Trigger. The horse got along exceptionally well with Evans’s horse Buttermilk, and the two equines developed a passionate following of their own among fans of the couple’s smash hit TV series The Roy Rogers Show. Throughout his life, Rogers owned many horses and was proficient in everything from trick riding and training to polo playing. Indeed, Trigger reportedly knew about 150 trick cues that Rogers taught him, and he was also known to be housebroken!
Madonna, American Pop Singer
Though she didn’t take up riding until she was in her 40s, Madonna quickly fell in love with horses and now is an avid horsewoman. A riding accident in 2005 caused her to break her collarbone, a hand, and three ribs, but her love of riding never waned, and she continues to enjoy riding in exotic locations around the world. She fabulously made an entrance into her 59th birthday party in Italy last summer on the back of a white horse. Through the years, Madonna has performed as a cowgirl, appeared on magazine covers in full equestrian gear, and even rode on horseback with David Letterman down 53rd Street in Manhattan when she was a guest on his show.
Queen Elizabeth II, British Monarch
Elizabeth’s affection for horses began in early childhood and has been well-publicized throughout her long reign and life in the press, as well as in documentaries such as 1974’s The Queen’s Race Horses: a Private View (narrated by the Queen herself). Horses have been treasured by the royal family for centuries, and she inherited her father King George VI’s breeding and racing stock when he passed away in 1952. Her interest in racing continues to this day, and several races have been named after the Queen. Her horses have won well over 1,600 races, and while she doesn’t make wagers in any races, she does enjoy studying the breeding matches that produce champions. While she typically rides in horse-drawn carriages now instead of riding on horseback herself, she loves the sport of riding and hosts the Royal Windsor Horse Show annually at Windsor Park.
The love of horses spans the globe and captures the hearts of people from all walks of life—from regular folks like us to famous celebrities. And whether you’re an accomplished rider who got started in childhood like Elizabeth Taylor, William Shatner, and the Queen of England or you’re just now learning how to get ready for your first horse show, we know how much you love your horses.
Here at Sunset Valley Metal Craft, everything we do is in service to that love. And next time your horse’s barn could use some updating or renovations, we’d love to show you what we can do.