Swift told Billboard magazine: "It's one of the songs that I am really proud of on the record because it's so sparse - it's guitar, piano and cello. It talks about falling in love and the fairy tales that you are going to have with this person, and then there is that moment where you realize that it is not going to happen. That moment is the most earth shattering moment."
This song was featured in the two-hour season premiere of ABC's Grey's Anatomy on September 25, 2008. Swift told Billboard: "You should've seen tears streaming down my face when I got the phone call that they were going to use that song, I have never been that excited. This is my life's goal, to have a song on Grey's Anatomy. My love of Grey's Anatomy has never wavered. It's my longest relationship to date."
Taylor Swift told CMT that this song was an example of her fascination with fairy tales. She explained: "I am completely fascinated by the differences and comparisons between real life and fairy tales because we're raised as little girls to think that we're a princess and that Prince Charming is going to sweep us off our feet. And that we're going to ride off into the sunset on a white horse. We're not really expecting to get blown off or ignored or broken up with or cheated on. I think it's really interesting when you come to terms with that reality: 'Maybe that's not gonna happen with this guy because this guy's a jerk.' But there's still that core of us that believes that it's true and that if you find the right person, you can have that love story and it can work out. So there are different examples of fairy tales, and sometimes I believe in them and sometimes I don't. And moments on the record like in "White Horse," it's a song about, 'Wow, this is not a fairy tale, is it? Awesome. Great.' It's (about how) I'm coming to this realization that this is not a fairy tale at all -- this is real life."
Swift explained to That's Country that this sobering realization that romantic fantasy doesn't always pan out was originally not going to be included on Fearless. Said Swift: "I actually wasn't going to put this song on the album. I was going to wait for the third album because I really felt like we had the 'sadness' represented on this record. Then my agency out in LA set up a meeting with executive producers Betsy Beers and Shonda Rhimes at Grey's Anatomy because that's my favorite show. It would just be a dream come true to have a song on it. So, I played them 'White Horse.' It was just me and my guitar and they freaked out. They loved it. They said, 'We'll get back to you as soon as possible.' For a while, we didn't know if we were going to put it on the record because if it wasn't going to be on the show, then we weren't going to put it on the album. Then they called and said they were very interested in the song. We recorded it right away, sent it off to them, and they put it in!"
This song debuted at #13 on the Billboard Hot 100, giving Taylor Swift her sixth top 20 debut of 2008. This broke the record set only three months previously by the Jonas Brothers of five top 20 debuts in a calendar year. The brothers achieved this feat when "A Little Bit Longer
" arrived at #11 in August 2008.
Taylor Swift told MTV News about the song's promo: "This video is a lot different than the other videos that we've made, 'cause usually we've gone for bright colors and me looking straight to camera and singing. [This video is] a little more introspective."
Also starring in the video is Stephen Colletti (Laguna Beach, One Tree Hill). Taylor told MTV News: "I watched Laguna Beach on and off, but I saw him on One Tree Hill and thought he was really awesome on that. He had sort of the look we were going for... because the guy in the video is supposed to look really sweet and someone who just looks like he would never lie to you. But in the video, he does. So I thought he would be perfect for it and, actually, he did an amazing job."
In the video there is an emotional scene where Swift cries her eyes out over Colletti's character. She told MTV News: "There's an emotional scene in there where I had to cry for, like, three hours... bawl my eyes out for three hours. It was really interesting and sort of a new thing for me."
This track won Best Country Song and Best Female Country Vocal Performance at the 2010 Grammys. Swift won two other awards at the ceremony including Best Album of the Year for Fearless.