I can safely say that this is the only horse movie that has ever appealed to me. The story starts out very slow, but builds up pretty intensely as the two boys are in prison. The obvious symbolism of the last scene - the horse being present - didn't disturb me in the least. I was even relieved by the slight surreal turn the movie took, after that long stretch in the prison.
I wonder if the boys were treated differently from the director with the older boy being displayed as more gentle. In that sense the story could also be interpreted as the struggle of the two boys with their awakening personality.
Here, I also like the setting very much as it beautifully described the post-war misery everybody was in. The only thing going was the American soldier, bringing money to the poor kids in the streets (and they seemed to have made good money of them)