Indeed, the Disney animated canon is positively awash with equines. Some even go beyond the role of loyal steed and become full fledged heroes in their own right! So, today I'm counting down my Top 5 favorite Disney horses. And, let me tell you, do a little research and you'll find I'm only scratching the surface when it comes to all of the horses that have shown up in Disney films. These are simply the ones I've found the most memorable and endearing:
5. Pegasus (Hercules)
Pegasus is a magnificent horse...with the brain of a bird. He may not be the smartest or cleverest horse of the bunch, but he's loyal, funny, and ready to leap into action whenever Hercules needs his help. Oh, and he flies. That's pretty cool, too. Plus...just look at those crazy teeth! They practically glow in the dark! Pegasus's teeth cement his spot on this list.
4. Phillipe (Beauty and the Beast)
You can't help but feel sorry for poor Phillipe. First Maurice almost runs him off a cliff, gets him chased by bats, and then attacked by wolves. But Phillipe doesn't give up. No sir. He sets off to fetch Belle so she can rescue her captured father. But then how is he rewarded? He gets stuck standing around outside the castle for months on end, only to end up being attacked by wolves again. And then, even after all that, Phillipe still sticks around so he's right there later when Belle sets out to save her father. Again. That's a trusty steed if ever there was one!
And, yes, I know the special edition showed that Phillipe was well taken care of in the castle stables so he wasn't just standing out in the snow the whole time. But even so, Phillipe is still one tough horse. He just can't catch a break in this film!
3. Khan (Mulan)
In many ways, Khan is a lot like Phillipe. He's right there, ready to help Mulan all the way through her adventures. Even though he didn't always appear to be especially confident that Mulan could succeed in her charade, he was always ready to offer an assist when called upon. Khan's so dependable he even comes to Mulan's aid in the middle of an avalanche, for crying out loud! And, after Mulan saves the day, Khan gives her a triumphant exit from the palace by majestically leaping down several flights of stairs on the way out. Khan may not have been at the forefront of the action most of the time, but he was always there when the situation called for him.
Heck, whereas Phillipe only almost went over the side of a cliff, Khan actually did go over the side of a cliff! When it comes to action, Mulan's horse is sheer Khan! *rimshot*
2. Bullseye (Toy Story 2 and Toy Story 3)
Okay, I know, technically Bullseye is a Pixar horse, not a Disney horse. And, normally, I'd be the first to call attention to that distinction whenever Pixar characters show up on Disney lists.
But, seriously, Bullseye rocks. He's cute, innocent, and loyal to a fault. You simply cannot not love Bullseye. I know most people cried watching Toy Story 3 because of how emotional the ending was. Andy giving away all his toys and all that. And, sure, that was touching and melancholy. But you want to know the reason I cried watching Toy Story 3? Bullseye. There is nothing more heart-wrenching than watching such an innocent character struggling for his life in the incinerator. Man, that was hard to watch...
Plus, think about this: Bullseye is the fastest horse ever. Period. No horse is faster than Bullseye. If a real horse is really booking it, it can get up to around, what, 40 miles an hour or so? That's nothing for Bullseye. At the end of Toy Story 2, Bullseye is able to keep up with an airplane that is about to take off! That means he's easily clocking in at about 170 miles per hour. That's approximately equivalent to a full sized horse running at about 850 miles per hour. Bullseye is the Superman of horses. No wonder Woody trusted him to jump over the Grand Canyon in the final episode of Woody's Roundup. Bullseye could probably do it in his sleep. Ride like the wind, Bullseye? Ha! The wind wishes it could ride like Bullseye!
1. Maximus (Tangled)
Bullseye may be faster than a speeding bullet, but can he defeat a notorious thief in a swashbuckling sword/frying pan duel atop a cliff? I don't think so!
Maximus is so psychotically devoted to his duty that you can't help but root for him. Sure, he may not always be the most forward thinking horse. (Kicking out the support beam of the dam comes to mind...) But you have to admire his dedication and tenacity. He's more than willing to risk life and limb to bring Flynn Rider to justice. Plus, did I mention that he's hilarious? Never before has a Disney horse displayed so much personality as Maximus. He steals the show every time he's on screen. Which, given his strict moral code, is probably not something he would be proud of.
Plus, Maximus is totally the hero of the movie. Sure, Flynn helped out some in the end, but it was Maximus who discovered that Flynn and Rapunzel were even in danger at all. It was also Maximus who rallied the thugs to rescue Flynn from the gallows. And, of course, did Flynn run all the way to the tower to rescue Rapunzel himself? No. It was Maximus who made sure Flynn got to the tower in time to save the day. Without Maximus, Tangled would have had a much more depressing ending.
The herd of Disney horses is vast but, in the end, Maximus comes out on top!