Maximus Tangled
Tangled's Maximus was clearly the star of the film, not Rapunzel Disney

In this the year of the mighty horse, we look at the greatest pop culture stallions.

Horses are beautiful, majestic creatures that have been at humanity's side for thousands of years.

They've ploughed our fields for us, carried us into bloody battle, been whipped for sport and have sustained us in lasagnes.

Okay, so we haven't been too kind to them, but pop culture has served them well. When it comes to films they're essentially the Leonardo DiCaprios of the animal kingdom, but their talents aren't just limited to the big screen.

Horses are prevalent in all walks of pop culture, so as the Chinese New Year rings in and the Year of the Horse begins, we've decided to take look at the greatest equine icons of screen, stage and... erm... rubber masks.

Maximus - Tangled

Disney likes a good horse. Throughout their history horses have played a role in films from Cinderella to Mulan, from Sleeping Beauty to Toy Story. In 2010's Tangled however we saw the best of the lot.

Tangled started a resurgence at Disney Animation Studios that continued last month with the release of Frozen, and stands proudly among the best of Disney's work because it simply gets everything right.

It is an exceptionally animated film throughout but it is in Maximus, the horse on a mission to capture the hapless thief Flynn Rider, that the brilliance really shines through.

Ocarina of Time
Epona and hero Link outside Hyrule Castle Nintendo

Epona - The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time

Equine steeds are as commonplace in the world of videogames as in any other medium, but few are as iconic as The Legend of Zelda's Epona.

She has appeared many times in Nintendo's famous adventure series, but gamers felt a closest connection to her in Ocarina of Time. You first meet Epona as a young foal, before returning as an adult later in the game.

As an adult, Link wins Epona's companionship and frees her from an evil stable owner. Of course strictly speaking all she does is make travel faster and easier, but with only one exception she's at your side more than any other character over the course of the game's epic tale.

War Horse
War Horse Joey meets the Queen Retuers

Joey - War Horse

Steven Spielberg's film adaptation of Michael Morpogo's war tale was good, and the book itself is of course a classic, but for this category we're looking toward The National Theatre's hugely popular stage version.

In theory a full size horse puppet on stage shouldn't work, but thanks to the wonderful puppets created at South Africa's Handspring Puppet Company, it does. The stupendous puppetry work suspends the disbelief of an audience so what they see is a living, breathing horse in front of them.

Neverending story
Few cinematic moments are as devastating as this Warner Bros

Artax - The NeverEnding Story

All aboard the feels train.

If you were a child of the eighties you were probably traumatised by this much like how children of the forties were traumatised by Bambi, and children of the noughties were traumatised by Spider-Man 3.

Artax is the beloved companion of hero Atreyu, and dies early on in the film as the pair pass through the fittingly named Swamp of Sadness. Unable to continue through the mire, Artax slowly sinks as Atreyu tries to save him.

Shadow of the Colossus
Agro with his rider Wander Sony Entertainment

Agro - Shadow of the Colossus

An Artax for the world of videogames, Agro is a vital companion in Team Ico's classic game because he's the character you spend most time with.

Shadow of the Colossus sees its hero venture to the edge of the world to save the life of a young girl. To do so he must traverse a sparse but beautiful landscape, conquering and killing sixteen enormous creatures known as Colossi.

At first killing them is routine, but by the end you realise you're in fact killing innocent, unique, beautiful creatures and realise that you're the true villain. Towards the end of the game, after helping his master clear a crumbling bridge, Agro falls to an untimely and for us, devastating death.

Monty Python and the Holy Grail
Patsy with his master King Arthur (Graham Chapman, right) EMI Films

Patsy - Monty Python and the Holy Grail

King Arthur deserves only the mightiest of stallions and they come none-mightier than dear Patsy.

A fine, loyal breed – Terry Gilliam brings life to the equine hero with two cocoanuts and only a single fourth-wall-breaking line.

One of the funniest screen horses ever – easily.

Black Beauty
Warner Bros

Black Beauty - Black Beauty

Black Beauty kind of has to be on this list, lest my journalistic credibility be torn asunder!

Black Beauty, whose other names include Black Auster, Jack and the you-wouldn't-get-away-with-that-now names of Blackie and Darkie, spends the famous book teaching us valuable life lessons.

If I'm taking life lessons from a horse it's going to be from Gandalf's horse Shadowfax, because a wizard rides him. Black Beauty Vs Shadowfax, now there's a fight I want to see.

Horse Mask
Now I can prove to my friends that women can't get enough of the horse mask Retuers

Horse head masks

Latex horse head masks have been around since 2002, but didn't boom in popularity until 2005 when a book - The Lonely Planet Guide to Experimental Travel – suggested people wear them while travelling the world.

The internet inevitably played a major part as well, helping pictures of the masks go viral until they attained meme status. They have since become popular features at protests and Halloween parties, and yes I do own one.


A spam Twitter account that took on a life of its own. Horse_Ebooks has thousands of followers due to its fragmented, often borderline poetic and sometimes hilarious tweets about anything and everything.

Last year it was revealed that the account was actually run by humans rather than a bot, and was part of an experimental art project from Bear Sterns Bravo. With the veil raised, many fans were left disappointed and the account has since been abandoned.

RIP Horse_Ebooks. Never forget.