Keith Hunt - The Dust of Confusion over Trigger - Page Eight   Restitution of All Things

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The DUST of CONFUSION over Trigger!

The Dust has Settled!



The following is taken from the book "Roy Rogers" by Robert W.
Phillips, published in 1995, with added comments by myself -
Keith Hunt.

We see from Phillips eyes and mind the confusion about Trigger as
reported from various sources at various times over a few
decades. We also see that Roy Rogers himself, before he died in
1998, m ad little if any attempt to clear the dust storm. In the
book "The Roy Rogers Book" by David Rothel, published in 1987,
Rothel made little attempt in the questions asked to Roy Rogers,
to settle the confusing dust about Trigger either, they were the
same old questions, asked of Roy for decades, who gave the same
old robotic answers, answering nothing more and nothing less than
he had done for decades concerning Trigger.

So in the following you will see the frustration that a fan like
Robert Phillips found as he investigated the "Trigger"


In this chapter the word Trigger, without quotation marks, refers
to the actual horse by that name, the original Trigger. "Trigger"
in quotation marks refers to the character Trigger, which, in
actuality, might be any one of numerous doubles.

     Important information pertaining to "Trigger" has been
generated in the past 55 years from four main sources: 1.
publicity, media; 2. Roy Rogers; 3. Glenn Randall, who trained
"Trigger" from 1941 through 1965, and gave interviews in the
1980s; 4. William Witney, the director of Roy and Trigger films,
     These sources differ with one another on many points. Each
one will be examined. Because of practical limitations of space
in this book only a portion of my overall study may be shown.

     Everything to do with "Trigger" is show business, pure and
simple. It is not the most honest thing in the world, but honesty
is not an issue. If it were, you wouldn't have pure publicity,
and without the publicity, there would be no stars. Fiction is
the key word, as in good novels, plays, films, or live shows. The
purpose of all these mediums is to entertain. It's not a scam. We
Americans spend a large portion of our lifetime wages on
entertainment, and if it's good entertainment, we get our money's

(Does not have to be that way at all - as they say "truth is
stranger than fiction" - Republic Studios and Roy Rogers [as time
would pass] had the opportunity from the start to be "up front"
with everything, but they chose to not do so, so in many ways I
take exception to Phillips' remarks that it was not an issue on
honesty, and it was not a kind of "scam." It would seem that
Gene Autry who was also with Republic had no trouble with trying
to pull the wool over any person's eyes, and his Website today is
open about the many horses called "Champion" that Gene used in
movies and rodeo appearances. Roy could have been more open about
"Trigger" and simply used terms like "Trigger One" or "Trigger
Two" or something like that to have told his fans at a rodeo etc.
that the horse being used was a "certain" Trigger if it was not
the original Trigger, that fans were acquainted with from the
majority of his movies - Keith Hunt).

     Roy Rogers and "Trigger" were one of America's most
top-notch acts for over two decades. They entertained us so well
they became legends and idols in our eyes, our hearts, and our
imaginations. "Trigger" became a legendary star in his own right,
getting much press, publicity, and media attention. My research
indicates that "Trigger" the character horse was portrayed on
film and in photos and live appearances by whichever horse was
necessary and available at any given time, and I doubt that this
revelation will come as much of a surprise to anyone. Whenever
the subject is brought up among true-blue-cowboy-hero-
worshippers, a class in which I have held a lifelong membership,
most readily admit that they are aware there were numerous

(Not at all true from the eyes of children, who often see just
the surface of the overall picture - a fancy cowboy hero on a
fancy horse. I know, because all of my young life, from age 7
through to my teens, I thought there was only ONE Trigger horse
used in the close up movie scenes and the rodeo/personal
appearance shows. I believe Roy should have been "up front" with
kids and told them in rodeo shows to honor and appreciate the
talent of THAT PARTICULAR "Trigger" he was using for that
PARTICULAR show - Keith Hunt).

     The films and shows were a result of hardworking and skilled
people and animals. Roy and "Trigger" were out front, but up
ahead, perhaps days ahead, in the background and on the
sidelines, many other talented people were required to make the
show go on. People and horses cannot be in two different places
at the same time. And when shows are being scheduled miles apart
and time is tight and physical endurance gets pushed to the max,
whether it be films being made or shows being put on, the only
solution is backups, or "doubles" as they're called in the
business. With a person, distance and camera angles are employed
to create the illusion necessary to trick the eye of the
beholder. This isn't necessarily true with a horse, unless the
observer is very familiar with horses. Most of the observers that
will say that they can tell one "Trigger" from another were fans
of Roy and "Trigger." And the legend was created for, and has
been maintained for, those fans.

(That does not really make sense. Why create a false legend for
fans WHO CAN TELL it is not the same Trigger as in most of Roy's
movies, and the Trigger that was the "apple of his eye." Those
fans do not need a false legend created, trying to make out
Trigger was only one horse, FOR THOSE FANS KNEW BETTER! You only
make a false allusion legend for fans who do NOT know any
better, and are blinded [for various reasons] to the fact that
there were at least TWO Triggers paying the role of ONE Trigger
[as we now know]. It would have been much more honest to have
been OPEN about it from the very start, just as Gene Autry was
about the horse Champion he used in movies and the horse Champion
he used in rodeo shows - Keith Hunt).

     It does not appear that Roy Rogers is going to change the
way he refers to "Trigger." It is clear to me after studying the
many interviews and conflicting statements made over the years,
that when Roy says, "Trigger," the name is always in quotations
marks. The "Trigger" he will refer to is whichever one the
question most readily applies to, or whichever one he is thinking
of at the time. This is publicity thinking, and he has done it
throughout his career. It has maintained the legend of "Trigger"
ever since the horse first rode into our lives. For the most
part, when Roy rode out on his horse, the horse was advertised
and promoted as "Trigger," just as the man born Leonard Frank
Sly, even prior to the name change, was advertised and promoted
as "Roy Rogers."    

     Roy Rogers had numerous doubles, as legions of grown-up fans
now know. The doubles kept Republic with a star cowboy by   
preventing Roy from getting injured or killed while filming
stunts. The same was true for the horses Trigger, Little Trigger,
Trigger, Jr., and other "Triggers," and different horses would be
particularly good at certain  feats or tricks.    
Roy's filming alone would have worn out the finest horse specimen
in the world in a short time. The road work, that is, tours,
rodeos, stage performances, etc., was more exhausting than anyone
not in the Rogers entourage will ever know. The filming and 
road work obviously required a large number of horses. 

(To a point I agree, but it is now a known fact [as shown in the
book by Leo Pando "An Illustrated History of Trigger"] that there
was the original Trigger for movies [yes some stunt Triggers were
used at times for various tricks and stunts in those movies] and
so-called Little Trigger for "on the road shows" and rodeo
performances. It does not take that much work for a horse to
perform tricks at a rodeo. Tricks do not use that much energy
compared to galloping scenes. Hence a "trick" horse can do a few
shows a day, and shows are not done day after day 7 days a week.
A rodeo show may last 2 or 3 days on the average, and even if you
were appearing at a rodeo show that lasted 10 days like the
Calgary Stampede [the biggest money rodeo show on earth], a trick
horse can perform on each and every day without getting worn out,
as they are not galloping up and down for ex number of hours. As
Glenn Randall the trainer for Roy Rogers admitted, Little
Trigger was the "on the road" - "rodeo trick horse" used by Roy
Rogers, and later after Little Trigger was too old, it was
Trigger Jr. that was used for a short while [as Roy would soon
retire from it all] as the "on the road trick horse" - Keith

     This is not to say that in either medium there were not
certain ones "up front" at any given time. There were several
such horses over the course of Roy's career. The following
information is based upon the very earliest palomino in Roy's
career that was much more prominent than any other. In my
research, I have studied thousands of photos, as well as the
published accounts of numerous individuals. My research will
continue indefinitely, and I hope that others will be devoted
enough to carry on additional research.

(Yes Leo Pando did carry on the research in his remarkable book
"An Illustrated History of Trigger" - Keith Hunt).

     The original Trigger was very likely present in most,
perhaps even all, of the feature Republic films and the six years
of weekly broadcast television episodes. He also appeared in a
multitude of the photos used for comic books, magazines, and
advertising. It appears that he might have made a tour, perhaps
Roy's first, and evidence seems to indicate that it was he who
appeared at events in and around Los Angeles. It must be kept in
mind, however, that the majority of what came out of the Rogers
camp and was published in any form, regardless of who was talking
had publicity as its purpose. Roy and Dale's lives were oriented
to writing and talking in a publicity fashion, so when one reads
that Trigger, Trigger, Jr., and even ~=Buttermilk are touring the
country with Randall in the specially equipped trailer, it is
anybody's guess which horses are out there. Magazine articles, as
well as Dale's books, kept Trigger touring even in 1956-1957
writings. There are three important things to bear in mind in
analyzing this situation:

1. Every palomino horse has his or her own unique markings. Many
horses resemble each other closely, but not identically. 2. Many
photographs are doctored for a variety of reasons, from creating
an illusion to producing an eye-appealing product. 3. Photographs
often do not lend themselves well to study at all because of the
photography, the conditions at the time, or, the angle of the
subject to the camera.

     I have been frustrated to find many photographs that fall
into this category. Often, only one particular distinctive
marking can be seen in a given photo.
     The study of the publicity associated with "Trigger" over
the years can be very interesting to sort through, for sometimes
it doubled back on itself, producing some interesting
revelations. It is important to keep in mind that in the early
years, the golden palomino that was with Roy was "Trigger." Later
on, a "Trigger, Jr.," was introduced. But, although Trigger, Jr.,
was a real horse, he was also a character, as was "Trigger." I
believe it would be reasonable to assume that the corrals and
trailers contained numerous golden palominos who could be
"Trigger," or "Trigger, Jr.," or a horse by any other name, or a
horse by no particular name.

(Actually that was not the case, in the main, for through the
work of Leo Panda and his interviews with Corky Randall [the son
of Glenn Randall - Roy's trainer] there were THREE "Triggers" -
the original Trigger for movies [with the use of Little Trigger
at times] - the Little Trigger horse for "on the road" shows -
and eventually Trigger Jr. for on the road [he was hardly ever
used in movies] - Keith Hunt).

     I believe Glenn Randall knew much more than he ever told,
and I believe William Witney knows more than he has told. Some
persons, such as trainers or film producers who were very close
to the subjects, have shed some light on the mysteries, enough to
make us all the more curious. Many of these people are no longer
around, however. I have studied the publicity and information
pertaining to "Trigger," as well as the photographs and films
containing information, especially the markings on the horses,
and have drawn many conclusions.

     My study of the hundreds of photos indicates that there were
at least THREE principal horses that were "Trigger" in all the
mediums. Then there were many others that were shown anywhere
from once to a half dozen times in all mediums. All of this is in
addition to any "Triggers" in distant film shots. This discussion
focuses entirely upon high profile "Triggers." People who were
closely involved with the films have admitted to a half dozen or
more "doubles" for Trigger in that medium. It has been shown that
Trigger was relied upon for years to get Roy and the producers
out of tough filming situations. They would have the doubles on
the scenes for certain stunts, but there were some stunts that
they just couldn't film, despite numerous attempts, because the
horses were afraid of whatever objects were employed. They could
always depend on the "Old Man" as they called him, to bail them
out, however. The horse had quite a reputation with everyone on
the set for being fearless. How much of this is fact and how much
publicity, we will probably never know, but it's a beautiful

(It is indeed much fact, as brought out in interviews by some
stunt doubles for Roy, who were riding Trigger in a scene where
other "Trigger doubles" refused to do it - Keith Hunt).



     My research has determined that the original Trigger was
foaled on a ranch in Santa Cietro, California, part-owned by film
star Bing Crosby, and managed by Roy Cloud, a horse breeder
formerly of Nobelsville, Indiana. Mr.Cloud bred horses, raced
horses, and entered his horses in parades. One of these horses
was "Golden Cloud," a palomino later sold to Hudkins Stables. It
is possible that Mr.Cloud bred some of the "Trigger" doubles as

(Leo Pando in his book "An Illustrated History of Trigger, 2007)
has verified this as true, and has also given us a photo copy of
the original Trigger's registration form, where the date of birth
is confirmed as 1934, hence making Trigger 31 years old at death
and NOT 33 as Roy always told everyone. I guess Roy just never
took the time [or had anyone else take the time for him] to go to
the Palomino Register Association and obtain a copy of the
registration form. I find that very odd and strange for a man who
loved the original Trigger as he did. You would have thought he
would have wanted a copy of Trigger's registration form to frame
it and put it in his museum. Some of the things Roy did or did
not do, said or did not say, I find very contradictory in his
mind-set and attitude towards - Keith Hunt).


     Blaze extends from left side of face, jutting out over left
eye with a notch cut out, to right face, covering entire right
nostril and top part of mouth only. Above left eye, in that area
usually covered by mane, the blaze returns, with a jagged edge,
to center of face, resulting in very large white area on
forehead. On right side of face, blaze runs straight up,
considerably away from eye, to high part of forehead, where it
turns in. The white area, well below the right nostril, makes a
90 degree right turn and, with a jagged edge, continues toward
the mouth. Without being able to see this side of the face, or
the part of the blaze extending toward the left eye, it is
impossible to make a positive identification. Horse has only one
white stocking, his left rear. One must make a decision based on
this, and perhaps the right side of the face. Often in photos,
and on film, the stockings appear blurred or discolored, and the
mane obstructs the blaze near the eye. The more of the three
distinguishable markings one can see, the better the chance for a
positive identification. Eye marking visible: near positive
identification, if paid attention to in detail, i.e., under
magnification. Mouth marking visible: same applies. Stocking
visible: assumption only. Any two markings together are
conclusive in this study. 


1100 pounds ("The Western Horseman," April 1961; Movie Fan,
March 1953). In 1976, an article describing Trigger in the museum
states his height to be 15.3 hands.

(I have seen the reports that Trigger was 15:2 hands. One of
Roy's children also has said Trigger was 15.2 hands. Roy in the
book by David Rothel says Trigger was 15.3 hands. Trigger had
"wither" formation that someone could easily be out by an inch or
so in determining how many hands high he was. A photo produced in
Leo Pando's book "An Illustrated History of Trigger" shows the 5
main horses used by Rogers - Monarch; the original Trigger;
California; Pal; and Little Trigger; standing next to each other
in a line. Looking at the photo you cannot tell that there is
much different at all in the hight of the 5 horses. Putting
Trigger at 15.3 hands may well have been  wishful thinking, or
depending on where you thought the top of his withers were -
Keith Hunt).


     Roy's version: In "Liberty," December 14, 1946, Roy is
quoted as saying he bought Trigger in 1937, on the instalment
plan. In an article by Roy, in "American Magazine" August 1949,
he states that he purchased Trigger for three hundred dollars,
and had to "do it on time" (instalments).

(Roy got a lot of things mixed up here and there at different
times throughout his career, between all the horses he used or
bought or had around for his entertainment life. He never kept a
dairy, so the mind can indeed get mixed up over the many horses
you may have or had at one time or another - Keith Hunt).

     Witney's version: After returning from the three-month tour
following the release of Under Western Stars (April 1938), Roy
went to Hudkins Stables to talk about buying Trigger. Whitney
relates that there was a handshake and a time payment plan for

(Witney also had some of the truth but was also mixed up with
the real actual facts of the matter - Keith Hunt).

     Scripps-Howard News Service: A story reprinted in the Roy
Rogers-Dale Evans Collectors Newsletter, 5, no. 30 (1986) men-
tions an instalment plan with several hundred dollars down. In
"The Western Horseman," April 1961, Duane Valentry states that
$1,000 was paid down and the remainder of $2500 was paid in

(Also a little truth here and there, but again the actual truth
of the matter is mixed up - Keith Hunt).

     Randall's version: In an interview conducted by David
Rothel, Randall stated that this transaction meeting didn't take
place until 1941, after a string of films had been made. In this
version Roy sent Randall to buy the horse, at the latter's
suggestions. Roy put up the money and Randall did the

(Randall got mixed up with the buying of Little Trigger
here. He also did not keep a diary of events, so as the mind can
often do, especially with so many horses in your life, it gets
things mixed up - Keith Hunt).

     According to numerous articles, Roy promised as part of the
deal that only Hudkins' horses would be used in his Republic

(I've never seen that proved, but anything is possible with the
life of Roy and horses - Keith Hunt).

     In "The Mountain Broadcast and Prairie Recorder," March
1946, writer Frame Henderson states, "Roy raised Trigger from a
colt, and scrimped and saved to buy him, feed him and train him,
when in his early days with the Sons of the Pioneers, his
earnings were comparatively small." 

(All this is a bunch of made up fancy fairy-tales to please the
readers. It was far from the truth - Keith Hunt).

     Numerous published articles state that Roy used a guitar as
part or all of the down payment.

(All made up fairy-tales - Keith Hunt).

     According to most sources, Roy didn't actually buy Trigger
until after his first feature film. This is credible from a
strictly economic point of view. He used a fancy, silver adorned,
tooled-leather saddle, a "Dick Dixon" model, or one similar to
it, in the film, however. One might wonder why he would own such
an expensive saddle, if he did not even own a horse and was
having trouble making ends meet and paying to handle fan mail.

(It was WAY AFTER - like 5 YEARS AFTER his feature film that Roy
actually BOUGHT trigger - Keith Hunt).

     Another version to the Trigger story was related by Ray
"Crash" Corrigan in the Pontes article in Westerns and Serials.
The description he gives applies to Little Trigger and not the
original Trigger, however. 

(And Leo Pando in his book proves it was not the original Trigger
that Roy "Crash" Corrigan sold to Roy but indeed Little Trigger.
Roy openly admitted to one reporter when asked, that he bought
Little Trigger form Corrigan.
The TRUTH of when Roy bought the original Trigger is shown in Leo
Pando's book, with a photo copy of the Hudkins bill of sale:
september 18th 1943 Roy put $500 down - December 6th 1943 Roy
paid the balance of $2,000. Just as simple as that. Roy did not
buy the original Trigger until 1943 and paid a total of $2,500
for him. Her bought him from Hudkins Stables - Keith Hunt).


     In interviews, Roy gave Trigger's age as 25 in 1957 and 33
in 1965, which places the horse's birthdate in 1932. In his book,
William Whitney states Trigger was 14 years old when he began
working with him in 1946, which would also place the date of
birth in 1932. A 1962 article (probably written in 1961) states
that Trigger was 29 years old, was retired, and had six doubles
to do what show business work there was to be done (this article
also placed birth in 1932).
     "A Movie Collector's World," August 1992, article by Mario
Demarco places birth in 1933, when compared with Rothel's 
accounting. It has often been reported or indicated in articles
and books that Trigger was four years old when he appeared in the
Errol Flynn film, right before Len met him.
     In an article called "My Television Adventures" in Jack and
Jill, May 1961, Roy says, "Trigger is 27 years old this spring"
(places birth in 1933 or 1934). According to a Rothel interview
in 'The Singing Cowboys," Trigger was three years old at the time
of the Robin Hood film (1937), which places the birth in 1934.
     Witney indicates that he was 3-4 years old during the
filming of "Under Western Stars," 1937, which places the birth in
     According to "Movie Life," 1943, at Roy's first appearance
at Madison Square Garden Rodeo in 1942, Trigger's seventh
birthday was celebrated (places birth at 1935). "Movie Fan,"
March 1953, said that Trigger was 18 years old (places birth at

(Ah, do you see all the confusion over one horse. I'm not sure
why {Phillips did not go to the Palomino Registration Association
to find out when Trigger was born, as the horse was "registered"
- even Rogers knew the horse was registered as "Golden Cloud" and
he also did not bother to inquire from them the actual date of
birth. It has now all been cleared up by Leo Pando in his book
"An Illustrated History of Trigger" [2007] - Pando gives us a
photo copy of Trigger's registration and hence the very day of
his birth - which was July 4 1934. So SOME were pretty close to
being correct in their recollections of Trigger, but Roy Rogers
was very WRONG! - Keith Hunt).

     In a Rothel interview in "The Singing Cowboys," Roy states
that he was getting ready to film "Under Western Stars" when
Smiley Burnette suggested "Trigger" as a name. According to a
quotation in Witney's book, the horse was named "Trigger" the
same day that Len's name was changed to "Roy." (That would be in
1937, before "Under Western Stars" was filmed.) In Witney's
version, a wrangler at Hudkins told Len the horse's name was
"Pistol." Len told him he was going to name him "Trigger," and
the wrangler noted he didn't care what he was called, so long as
the name on the rental check was correct.

(Roy Roger's always maintained the Smiley Burnette story. Roy was
spinning his guns and talking about how fast Trigger was, Smiley
Burnette said something to the effect, "Oh as fast as a trigger"
and Roy said, "I will name him Trigger." Witney, the film
director, never came on the scene until much later, his story is
pretty well fair-tale stuff - Keith Hunt).

     According to Roy in "The Great Show Business Animals" and
"The Singing Cowboys," Trigger was used for close-ups and spe-
cial-scenes, including chase scenes. Randall says that Trigger
came first and was used for pictures. Based upon this author's
study of photographs, it does not appear that the horse seen
racing at breakneck speed in film still number 704-114 from
"Under Western Stars" is the original Trigger or the horse most
commonly referred to as Trigger. One has white stockings (front
view), and the other is a darker color horse (side view). Still
photo #704-114 shows a Trigger with blaze face running from the
right side of the face to the left side, like "Little Trigger,"
and also shows some white stockings, but not four. Publicity
photos #704-8 and #704-79 for the film show the original Trigger.
The blaze on the face and the white stockings suggest that the
running horse was another horse. According to Whitney, the first
trainer/wrangler for Trigger was Jimmy Griffin. From the time Roy
took possession of Trigger right after Under Western Stars (a
fancy story as such for Trigger belonged to Hudkins Stables until
Roy bought him in December 1943 - Keith Hunt) Jimmy took care of,
trained, and transported Trigger and another horse, "Little
Trigger." Randall says he began training Trigger in 1941 and
trained him for 24 years (Well Randall trained BOTH the original
Trigger and Little Trigger from 1941 onward when Roy hired him as
his trainer - Keith Hunt). A "Movie Fan" article, March 1953,
states that Trigger had been trained by Roy since the age of five
(Roy did train him to do a few tricks even as Trigger was being
"rented" by Republic Studios from Hudkins Stables and before
Randall came on the scene - Keith hunt).
     Magazines began reporting on Trigger's tricks right away and
through the years offered every number imaginable. For a long
period of time, the tricks numbered more than 60. In "The Western
Horseman "article, April 1961, they hit 100, and in "Jack and
Jill," May 1961, they hit 101. One example of a trick: patting
him under the mane caused him to rear.

(The original Trigger could do SOME tricks, but it was Little
Trigger that was the master of trickeronomy, as Glenn Randall
later would admit in various interviews - Keith Hunt).


In Liberty, 1946, Roy states that the "Trick Trigger"
has a contract providing him equal screen billing. Many articles
published and taped interviews relate that Trigger never had
a contract.

(Roy has often said that Trigger never had a contract. Roy said,
"Trigger just went along with me." Well, true to a point, but
again Roy was not saying any more than the bare bones of truth.
For the full truth is that Trigger from 1937 to 1943 was a
"rented" horse for Republic Pictures for Roy to ride, hence one
technical side of the truth is Trigger was a paid horse, only the
money went to Hudkins Stables. After Roy bought him in December
of 1943 [when he made full payment for him] Trigger was never
given a separate "contract" by Republic - Keith Hunt).

Which Trigger?

     This researcher's study indicates that the original
Trigger definitely appeared in these films among others: Billy
the Kid Returns (1938), still of Roy playing guitar to horse and
R-1-47; Wall Street Cowboy (1939), #R9-1; Don't Fence Me In
(1945), lobby card with seven of the cast on horses; Eyes of
Texas (1948), #1623-37; Susanna Pass (1949), #1627-53, front view
of Trigger racing after truck; Bells of Coronado (1950), where
Roy is doing the running mount, in front of doctor's home;
Spoilers of the Plains (1951), still #1838-8; Heart of the
Rockies (1951), leading the band of men scene.

(Trigger did appear somewhere in all of Roger's films, EXCEPT
"Son of Paleface" [1952] - the classic Bob Hope, Jane Russell,
Roy Rogers and Trigger, movie. There is not one scene in that
movie where the original Trigger was present. Hence when Roy
Rogers said that Trigger was in every movie he made .... well
once more I guess it depended on what was going through Rogers'
mind with the name "Trigger." If he was meaning the original
Trigger, the one he loved the most, then he was wrong, or he just
simply forgot about the "Son of Paleface" movie, or did not
"count" that movie as he was NOT the leading star per se - Keith

Personal appearances: 

     Witney states that the original Trigger was taken on the
1938 tour. The film was released in April 1938. Roy and Trigger
made almost every major city in the United States and were gone
about three months. It appears that the horse was as big a hit as

(Witney is wrong again, or just made things up that sounded good
to him, or simply had the facts all wrong. Roy Rogers in the
"biography" Happy Trails, shows us clearly who went along on that
trip in 1938 and that people would call out and ask him "Where's
your horse cowboy." So one of them is very wrong, either Witney
or Rogers. From the full context of as the pay Rogers was getting
from Republic, and that Trigger was a rented horse, I fully
believe Rogers is correct on this score - Keith Hunt).
     Magazine articles from New York City (1942) covered Roy at
the rodeo, where the horse looks like the original Trigger. In
photos taken at the "Stage Door Canteen on Eighth Avenue" (New
York City), however, there is no blaze showing on right side of
face. The same is true of photos of the birthday celebration,
which may show the "Stage Door" horse, with long narrow face and
blaze running down center of face only. Photos taken the same
year at the "New York Infirmary for Women and Children" reveal
what appears to be a third horse. Back at the rodeo, in a
different performance, the horse has four white stockings. "Dixie
Hotel" event photos show a horse with four white stockings, and a
blaze that runs from right to left on face, as with Little
Trigger. A magazine article from this period, "Roy and Trigger
Thrill New York," shows one of the first primary Trigger doubles
used for personal appearances, probably Little Trigger.

(It is revealed by Pando in his book that Glenn Randall ([coming
on the scene for Rogers in 1941] said that Little Trigger was the
"live rodeo and appearance horse, travelling all over the world"
- Keith Hunt).


     Roy has been quoted in interviews as saying that
"Trigger" never sired. The "Mountain Broadcast and Prairie
Recorder," March 1946, states: "However Roy is planning on going
into the horse breeding business, and has purchased a string of
palominos with this [mating Trigger] in mind."

(It is true that Roy Rogers has insisted and retold many times,
that the original Trigger was never used for breeding, as
sometimes a horse after breeding can loose it's friendliness and
calm nature that the original Trigger was famous for having. And
further IF the original Trigger, who was a registered horse, had
direct offspring, you can be sure that today those with a
descendant from the original Trigger would shout it out to the
world of horse people in no uncertain manner. Such has never been
the case - Keith Hunt).

     In "Liberty," 1946, Roy mentions 24 wives, and 17 in foal,
and says he has gone into the "colts by Trigger" business, which
will bring in a thousand dollars a foal. In magazine or filmed
interviews, he states that he bred Trigger one time, to produce a
colt for a little girl in Pennsylvania.
     "The Western Horseman" April 1961, states that J. B.
Ferguson, the Texas oilman who offered to buy Trigger in the
1950s, gave Roy a sorrel that he bred with Trigger, producing a
foal for Ferguson as a consolation. "Quaker Cereals" ran
newspaper ads about 1949 for a contest to "name the son of
Trigger." The 1st prize was a week spent with Roy. In "Roy Rogers
and Trigger Comics," January-February 1960, an article by Roy to
readers states that Trigger sired a colt and the mother was
Buttermilk. (Buttermilk, according to Roy in "Happy Trails," was
a buckskin gelding.) In 1963, Roy was quoted as saying that
Trigger never sired any foals as far as he knew.

(Ah, when you see that some stories over the years about Roy
Rogers and Trigger were made up fairy-tales, and when you
understand the mind-set of Rogers when talking about "Trigger" -
it all depended on which Trigger it was, then you can understand
some horse under the name "Trigger" was used for breeding, but
the original Trigger in another thought and interview with
Rogers, was never bred to any Mare. It is laughable that you have
a story that Trigger (whichever Trigger it was) sired a colt and
the mother was Buttermilk, for Buttermilk was a KNOWN gelding!
You see how fanciful were the stories going around at times about
Roy Rogers and Trigger - Keith Hunt). 

     According to a 1979 report, Roy had some descendants of
Trigger on the ranch and was raising horses. In 1980s interviews,
Roy said that Trigger never sired a foal and never had a

(Again, all depended of the "Trigger" in Roy's mind at the time
of stating something like this - pretty strange mind-set to me,
would have been much more up-front and certainly less confusing
to all people, including the kids, to have stated from the
beginning which Trigger it was in any situation - Keith Hunt).

     Such information as the "Liberty" article can be put down as
pure publicity. "Pulse," 1990, states that Randy Travis purchased
a horse from Roy named "Trigger, Jr., "who is the 'grandson' of

(Yep, but not the grand-son of the original Trigger - Keith

     "The Mountain Broadcast and Prairie Recorder," March 1946,
states "he has never been mated."

(And true as when meaning the original Trigger. I once saw Roy on
a TV program saying he had this horse for sale, then the horse
was shown running around the roung pen. Roy said the horse was
from Trigger. But, with the mind-set of Rogers we can understand
he was using the word "Trigger" as a generic word. The horse may
have been from Little Trigger or Trigger Jr. or even from some
other "Trigger" that was only in the mind of Roy Rogers. There is
no evidence anywhere that the original Trigger ever had any
offspring, or any time - Keith Hunt).


     In "The Answer Is God," Elise Miller Davis describes Roy's
first appearance at Madison Square Garden Rodeo in 1942. Trigger
slipped and fell in the mushy turf, throwing Roy, and another
time he slipped going around the arena, causing Roy to be thrown
from the saddle and dragged until he was saved by two rodeo
wranglers. All of this apparently was due to the turf conditions
and the concrete underneath. Roy stated in published and filmed
interviews in later years that Trigger never once fell with him
during his career.

(Once more this is answered by now knowing that Roy Rogers in
some conversations or facts of life with "Trigger" was referring
to one certain Trigger in one certain fact and another certain
Trigger in another certain fact. Yes, very confusing and somewhat
of a slight of hand or maybe you could say "game playing" with
"Triggers." So, the Trigger of Madison Square Garden Rodeo in
1942 was actually Little Trigger [or another Trigger horse] and
NOT the original Trigger - Keith Hunt).

Trigger's home: 

     Randall, who lived in North Hollywood, as did Roy, says he
kept Trigger in stables at back of his house for many years. Some
articles state that Trigger was kept at a Van Nuys ranch with the
other performing horses. Other sources show "Thousand Trails"
ranch as the place Trigger was kept. A 1956 source varies this
slightly, saying Trigger was kept at "Thousand Oaks." According
to Whitney, circa 1963, Roy and Dale gave up the ranch at
Chatsworth and moved to the green hills of Hidden Valley, close
to Hollywood. This was a valley of horse-raising folks, and
Trigger had a big comfortable place to live out his retirement.

(We now from the interviews Leo Pando did with Corky Randall in
writing his book "An Illustrated History of Trigger" that Corky
as a young man growing up with his dad Glenn, often had to ride
and exercise all THREE Triggers [the original Trigger, Little
Trigger, and Trigger Jr.], hence indeed for many years Trigger
lived on the ranch of Glenn Randall, or wherever Randall had his
stable and horse training business. One thing we do know for sure
is that when Trigger died, he was not in the back yard or paddock
where Rogers and his family were living, for rogers was able to
NOT TELL his family that the original Trigger had died. He kept
it a secret from them for one whole year - this is attested as
very true from Dale Evans and Dusty Rogers [Roy's son] - Keith


     Roy reported that Trigger died in 1965 at age 33, which is
very old for a horse. His heart just finally played out. Roy went
over a year without telling anyone. In "The Great Show Business
Animals," Rothel writes, "It was a sad day around the Rogers
household when Trigger died."

(No, could really not have been, for as proven by the family
members of Roy Rogers, they had not one clue the original Trigger
had died for a whole year. This alone shows the family members
were not at that time involved in any way with Trigger, sad to
say, but he had become basically forgotten by them. It is just as
obvious from all this, none of the family members of Rogers were
doing any regular visits to Trigger, just to even say hello to
him. A great and famous horse like Trigger does not die and only
Roy Rogers and the people caring for Trigger KNOW ABOUT IT,
unless the family members of Rogers had no interest in him, and
were not visiting him in any way. From what I can gather there
were very few if any of the Rogers family who could be anywhere
close to being classified as "horse-people" - it there had of
been, Trigger would not have died UN-noticed by them.
Here once more we need to say the truth is that Trigger was 31
years old when he died and NOT 33!
The horse was indeed very old. You multiply horse years by 3 to
get the human year equivalent, so 31 x 3 is 93 years old in human
life span when Trigger died. Roy Rogers and others were wrong in
saying you multiply by OVER 3 years. How do I know this? Very
simple. We are dealing with trying to figure the horse's age in
terms of human age, so ask yourself "How many people live to be
93 year old?" VERY FEW!! And if you ask people in the horse world
how many horses live to be 31 years old, they will tell you VERY


So we finish this section of the confusion over a horse called
"Trigger." And over the years what confusion it has been, not
helped in much way by Roy Rogers and Dale Evans, who in some
conversation on the "Happy Trails Theatre" programs, Roy would be
obviously talking in one sentence about some fact of the original
Trigger, and Dale Evans in the next sentence would be talking
about a fact that belonged to the horse we now call Little
In many ways the story of Roy Rogers and Trigger is like trying
to put together a jigsaw-puzzle, just as Robert Phillips and Leo
Pando found out as they spent countless hours of study and
research in trying to put all the pieces together to make sense
of it. I certainly appreciate and applaud their mighty efforts,
patience and fortitude, for they got little help, if any at all,
from Roy Rogers and his family.

Keith Hunt

Entered on this Website May 2008

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