Steven Spielberg stated that the only digital effects used in the movie were three shots that lasted three seconds, and was done to ensure the safety of the horse involved. Spielberg was quoted as saying "That's the thing I'm most proud of. Everything you see on screen really happened."
Original author Michael Morpurgo's original story evolved from a chance meeting with three surviving WW1 soldiers at his local bar in Iddesleigh, Devon, Morpurgo's English hometown. After a number of meetings with the former members of the Devon yeomanry, and consultations with the Imperial War Museums (IWM), Morpurgo was able to structure a story based on the experiences of the veterans and their poignant accounts of, not just human slaughter on the battlefield, but also the wholesale carnage and starvation of horses.
This Steven Spielberg film was released in the same year as another Spielberg movie, The Adventures of Tintin (2011) and both were Oscar nominated. But the film represents another double Spielberg losing year at the Oscars. This movie received six Academy Award nominations including Best Picture whilst The Adventures of Tintin (2011) got one nomination. Both films failed to win an Oscar. In 2006, Spielberg also had two movies Oscar nominated, Munich (2005) and War of the Worlds (2005). Both those two films also failed to win an Oscar that year. Spielberg had a double Oscar winning year in 1994 with Schindler's List (1993) (won 7 Oscars) and Jurassic Park (1993) (won 3 Oscars).
Emily Watson also starred in the similarly named The Water Horse (2007). In both films she played the mother of the title animal's human guardian during a World War (in "War Horse" the First, in "The Water Horse" the Second).
After this became Steven Spielberg and Michael Kahn's first film together edited digitally, the two swore off digital editing once again in favor of analog flatbed editing, stating that digital editing rushed their creative process too much.
Finder's two famous roles, Seabiscuit and Joey, were very similar. Both were remarkable mainly in their bravery and determination to overcome insurmountable odds they never should have been able to, considering what kind of horse they were.