ROY ROGERS BUYING LITTLE TRIGGER?
What are some of the facts we have when trying to answer the
question as to WHEN did Roy Rogers buy "Little" Trigger.
We have the fact that there is NO "paper trail" for Little
Trigger. It would seem not one person KNOWS of a bill of sale
from the owner to Roy, for Little Trigger. It would seem not one
person has handed down orally, the month and year that Roy bought
Little Trigger. We shall look in a moment at the "sayings" that
have been attributed to people. We know Roy did not keep a
"diary" - certainly not a daily one, like my Dad has done for
decades now. It would seem Roy did not even keep a basic weekly
or monthly diary of large and important happenings in his life.
We know Roy did not "throw anything away" and wanted to
eventually have a museum. No bill of sale has ever been found to
prove when Roy bought Little Trigger. I'm sure if there ever had
been a bill of sale, as like with THE Trigger, it would have
surfaced by now, and there would be no "debate" on this subject.
Other facts we know is that Little Trigger was NOT a
registered horse. If he had been, then a registration
certificate, with date of birth, would be on file with the horse
organization that registered him. This IS the case for THE
Trigger, known as, and registered as, "Golden Cloud" on his
registration certificate, which also gives his date of birth.
Registered horses have to have a "pedigree" line to follow.
My registered golden palomino has a pedigree. It was my Vet. when
looking at her file and pedigree, asked me if I knew she was out
of "Impressive" - I said yes. He asked me if I knew who
"Impressive" was, I replied I did not. He then told me he was a
famous horse in the USA, won just about everything a horse can
win in the "halter" class of competitions.
Little Trigger was never registered. We know nothing of his
pedigree, or date of birth. In fact it would seem there is no one
alive today who knows the date of his death either. If some other
person than Roy ever did know they have taken it with them to the
grave. The fact is no one has ever come forth to prove to us that
they know when Little Trigger was born or when he died, the day
and month. I'm not sure if there is anyone who knows the month
Little Trigger died.
In the book "An Illustrated History of Trigger" by Leo
Pando, he sites Corky Randall (the son of Glenn Randall - Roy's
trainer) as saying Little Trigger was not papered, Little
Trigger's PLACE of birth, DATE of birth, BREED, and BREEDER, are
all UNKNOWN (page 63-65).
We DO KNOW Little Trigger's FIRST appearance in a movie with
Roy was in 1943.
From Leo Pando's book, we have various "stories" of when
Little Trigger was born, when Roy Rogers had him or used him in
shows etc. outside of the first movie "Song of Texas" that he was
So for sure we then have, no registration of Little Trigger,
and no bill of sale for him when he was bought to be part of the
Roy Rogers team.
THE STORIES WE HAVE
Leo Pando (in his 2007 book) gives us the stories about
Little Trigger. They all, in one way or another, conflict with
each other to some extent.
The truth is evident to all serious researchers of the
"Trigger" phenomenon, as Glenn Randall (the TriggerS trainer) put
it, as it was released in "Cowboy Magazine" of 1992: "Little
Trigger was our personal appearance horse, and, by God, he could
do some of the most remarkable things."
From the book "An Illustrated History of Trigger" by Pando,
we have this:
"Corky Randall claimed that Rogers didn't own that many Trigger
doubles and further claimed that during many personal appearances
anonymous palominos were provided by either Republic or whoever
was sponsoring a particular event." Pando goes on to say that Roy
occasionally rode horses that were on "loan". This happened at
the beginning of his career and especially at the end (page 65).
A fellow by the name of Ray Corrigan comes on the scene. He
claimed to have sold Little Trigger to Roy. There are ear witness
accounts to what Roy Rogers said when asked from whom he got
Little Trigger. In 1993 long-time Rogers fan Carol Johnson noted,
"I asked him where he bought Little Trigger. He said, 'as a
matter of fact from Ray Corrigan.'" (Pando, p. 65).
Pando tells us that Frank Rasky in his biography "Roy
Rogers: King of the Cowboys" goes into detail about how Roy
bought "Trigger" from Crash Corrigan. Rasky was obviously talking
about "Little Trigger" as the facts of buying THE Trigger are all
out there today, together with the bill of sale, and that Trigger
was NOT bought from Corrigan.
Ray Corrigan also claimed he sold Trigger (Little Trigger as
he is now called) to Roy for $250. Corrigan's story is: "I sold
Roy two palominos for #500 - that's for both of them - $250
apiece ... Roy named both of the horses Trigger ..."
Going back to Carol Johnson's interview with Roy in 1993:
"I asked him where he bought Little Trigger. He said, 'As a
matter of fact from Ray Corrigan.' .... I then asked him if he
purchased another horse at the same time and he said, 'No, that
was later but that one didn't turn out as good as Little
So we see, with no "diary" kept by either Roy or Corrigan,
the stories get mixed up some. With no direct intent of
misleading, if we give this to both men, then we admit that the
human mind, over a period of time can get some of the details of
how it all happened a little off center. The central truth is
there from both men - Roy did purchase Little Trigger from
Pando shows that in Frank Rasky's book (Roy Rogers: King of
the Cowboys) there are most definitely inconsistencies,
especially if you do not divide up the TWO Triggers - THE
Trigger, and Little Trigger. Rasky gives Roy buying Trigger from
Corrigan in 1938 for $360.
Obviously Rasky is mixing up THE Trigger with Little
Trigger, and the date of purchase could well be just as mixed up.
Then again in the book "Roy Rogers" by Robert Phillips, you
get a whole section on the confusion and mixup of "various"
Triggers, here, there, and everywhere. The general blowing of
dust can be understood in the main, with the basic truth that
"Little Trigger" was used as Glenn Randall said, for the
"Trigger" on the road appearances shows. Randall is also recorded
as saying this "little" Trigger travelled all over, including to
Then, as we saw above Randall's son Corky, said to Leo Pando
Rogers didn't own that many Trigger doubles and further claimed
that during many personal appearances anonymous palominos were
provided by either Republic or whoever was sponsoring a
Pando says that Roy Rogers biographer Robert W. Phillips
gave 1940 as the year Little Trigger was bought at age 18 months.
Then as Pando goes on to say if you go by Roy Rogers
spokespersons (he does not refer to whom he speaks), Little
Trigger died in 1965 at around age 25. this would mean he was
born in 1940 and the Phillips date is incorrect. As Pando goes on
to say, it is unrealistic to believe Little Trigger was born in
1940, as he would have only been 3 years old and doing fancy
tricks, in his first movie "Song of Texas" in 1943. As Pando
correctly sates, horses, are started under saddle at age 2. And
are performing more complicated tricks at age 4 and 5. The
Lippizaner stallions from the Spanish Riding School of Vienna are
started at 4 or 5 and aren't put into advanced training until
they are 8 or 9.
Trigger Jr. was not bought until he was 9, the owner would
not sell him to Roy. Roy said it took him years, when Trigger Jr.
was 9, before he was able to buy him. He was then trained to do
many more tricks (a lot of the dances) at age 9 and after.
In February of 1944 "How I Trained Trigger" by Roy Rogers
(as told to Adrienne Ames) was published in "Motion Picture"
magazine. Roy said, "I bought Trigger in Santa Susanna,
California, for $350, and that was no-time, no money down ... He
was only a year and a half old." As Pando says, that sounds like
Roy is talking about Little Trigger in this case, and it may well
corroborate the Corrigan connection.
Pando gives a photo of Roy on Little Trigger outside some
building (adoring fans all around him and the horse) - the date
of the photo according to Pando is given as 1941. It is indeed
Little Trigger, not THE trigger, or a horse that was his look-
alike-double, if it was not Little Trigger.
Pando correctly states that on page 10 of "Roy Rogers: King
of the Cowboys" by Georgia Morris and Mark Polland (a book I have
in my library), a book produced in conjunction with an AMC cable
television biography, there is a picture of Roy on tour with
Little Trigger. The photo was dated 1941. It is one of the
earliest known photos of Roy with Little Trigger. As Pando
surmises the horse was probably around 4 years old.
Pando goes back and relates from that article "How I Trained
Trigger" as told to Adrienne Ames as published in "Motion
Pictures" of 1944. It was reported that "Trigger" "made his
'stage' debut about three years ago in Tulare, California, when
Roy made a personal appearance there, and [Trigger] was very bad
in the first show. But after a few performances, he began to like
it." As Pando says, that would put the debut in 1941. If that
horse was Little Trigger, I agree with Pando, it would make
Little Trigger around 3 or 4 years old, and possibly 5 years of
age. In that photo he looks like he's be around the age I bought
my golden palomino - she was 5 when I bought her.
This could put Little Trigger's birth between 1936 to 1938.
HERE'S MY DEDUCTION
From what I've related to you from "Happy Trails" published
in 1979 a kind of biography from Roy and Dale and Art Rush, we
have seen that Roy and Arlene were still counting pennies and Roy
was worried about making ends meet, living from pay-check to pay-
check, for two years in the movie world. It was not until Art
Rush became his manager at the end of 1939 to the start of 1940.
We have seen Roy said, he did road trips, gigs, where people were
asking him "Where's your horse cowboy?"
Art Rush comes on the scene and things immediately start to
pick up in a financial way for Roy. He may have "rented" a
palomino to take with him on those road trips, and so no one is
asking any more the question "Where's your horse cowboy?"
If Roy bought Little Trigger in 1940 at age 18 months, say
around 2 years old (could have been older - the story of 1940 and
18 months may be out some) then by 1941, Little Trigger was old
enough to make his first appearance, but still not be that sharp,
training still needed to make him into the trick horse that first
appeared in "Song of Texas" in 1943. But Roy would have had a
great looking golden palomino horse to ride on for personal
appearance gigs around the country.
The cost to buy? We have anywhere from $250 to $360 for
Little Trigger, for a person called Corrigan. If you want to x
the dollar then for today by 10 we have $2,500.00 to $3,600.00
for a purchase buy for Little Trigger. If you want to x the
dollar then for today by 20, we have a price tag for Little
Trigger as $5,000.00 to $7,200.00.
Roy, now with Art Rush in 1940, could have bought Little
Trigger. Art Rush was doing wonders for his new star, as far as
"money" went. Roy was on the road upwards, money speaking, so
even $7.000.00 for a horse like Little Trigger was probably
within his means during 1940.
By 1941 Little Trigger was the appearance horse, as Corky
Randall has said. By 1943 Glenn Randall had trained Little
Trigger to do some great tricks as shown in the opening scenes
from "Song of Texas" and as that decade proceeded the horse
became the world champion trick horse, and right to that title
can be easily seen in some unbelievable tricks Little Trigger did
in the movie "Son of Paleface" - the classic Bob Hope, Jane
Russell, Roy Rogers and Trigger, movie of 1952.
Truly Little Trigger was a wonder horse for tricks, all
preserved for us in various movies, and the memory of people who
saw him in public appearances. Yet, for such a wonder horse, we
have so little confirmed and proven "paper" facts, of his birth,
when bought by Roy, and his death. It is all so very interesting
to try and piece it all together, maybe that in itself makes this
Little Trigger horse even more mysterious and fairy-tale like.
You have a horse that comes out of no-where, learns to do
fantastic tricks, has millions around the world over a decade or
so, spell bound by his human like talent for tricks, that just
about made him one of us, then he vanishes like he came, he rides
off into the dust, only leaving us to be mesmerized by his life.
Maybe for such a horse it was fitting that it should be that
way, and remain that way, after all who is not thrilled by a
fairy-tale that is also factual.