The equine or modern unicorn is the result of degeneration of the heraldic unicorn. All features distinguishing it from a horse have disappeared, save for the one horn and even that is often as short as one palm, as if it were only a stick glued to a normal horse's forehead with an adhesive that does not support anything heavier. Its hooves are solid and its tail has long hair in all its length. Its coat is usually white or bright gray, but other colors are not uncommon. There have been observations of specimens with feathered wings.

Due to the ease of portrayal, most unicorns in live-action movies are equine. Oftentimes they are companions of elves and fairies, despite having nothing to do with them in the historical lore.