War Horse - Summary

Ted Narracott (Peter Mullan) buys a Thoroughbred colt at auction because he needs a horse to work on his farm in Devon, England. To spite his landlord, Mr. Lyons (David Thewlis), Ted bids too much for the colt. The high cost of the horse causes Ted to miss his rent payment. Lyons threatens to take possession of the farm if the money is not paid by fall. Ted promises to meet the deadline. Ted’s teenage son, Albert (Jeremy Irvine), names the horse Joey and trains him for farm work. 

In order to pay the rent and without telling Albert, Ted sells Joey to a young cavalry officer, Captain James Nicholls (Tom Hiddleston). As World War I gets underway, Joey trains for military operations. Joey spends his days training with another horse, Topthorn. The two horses deploy to France with a flying column. The cavalry charges cannot compete with the strong firepower of machine guns. Nicholls is killed along with most of his fellow cavalrymen, and the Germans capture the horses. 

The two horses then pull an ambulance wagon, but two brothers, trying to escape the fighting, take them. The horses then come into the custody of a young orphaned French girl named Emilie (Celine Buckens), who lives on a farm with her grandfather (Niels Arestrup). German soldiers ransack their farm and take the horses, despite Emilie's protests. 

Joey and Topthorn get the exhausting task of carrying German heavy artillery. They serve in this brutal task under care of Private Friedrich (Nicolas Bro), who loves horses and tries to help them survive. Joey and Topthorn survive years of hard service in the German army, much longer than most horses, but Topthorn finally succumbs to exhaustion and dies. 

Joey escapes through the devastated Somme into "no man's land" and gets entangled in the barbed wire barriers. Now old enough to enlist, Albert fights in the Second Battle of the Somme. Very close to his old friend Albert, will Joey be able to survive to be reunited with his former owner?


See the area around Devonshire, where the fictional Narracott family lives, and learn about the horses found in the area. Combatants on all sides rely on horses; learn about the role that horses fill during World War I. Find out what happens to war horses during and after the war.

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Author: Carole D. Bos, J.D. 5197stories and lessons created

Original Release: Dec 01, 2011

Updated Last Revision: Nov 09, 2016

To cite this story (For MLA citation guidance see easybib or OWL ):

"War Horse" AwesomeStories.com. Dec 01, 2011. May 27, 2020.
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