FROM THE BOOK "ROY ROGERS" BY ROBERT W. PHILLIPS
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, 1946-1951.
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 worth.
THERE WAS NO NEED TO TRY AND BLEND TWO MAIN HORSES INTO ONE. IT WOULD HAVE BEEN HONEST, OPEN, AND UP-FRONT, TO HAVE CALLED ONE "TRIGGER ONE" AND THE OTHER "TRIGGER TWO" ESPECIALLY WHEN ON THE ROAD - 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 "Triggers."
BUT THERE WERE TWO MAIN TRIGGER HORSES AS CAN BE SEEN FROM THE BUILD AND MARKINGS, WHO WERE THE BEDROCK OF THE MOVIES, TV SERIES, AND "ON THE ROAD" RODEO AND SHOW APPEARANCES. TO BLEND THEM IN CONVERSATIONS AS TO MAKE-OUT THERE WAS "ONE" TRIGGER, AS ROY AND DALE DID ALL THE TIME, WAS VERY WRONG; BEING OPEN AND ABOVE ABOUT IT ALL, WOULD HAVE BEEN THE HONEST WAY TO HAVE GONE - 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 necsessarily 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.
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 DID LEGALLY CHANGE HIS NAME FROM LEONARD SLY TO ROY ROGERS. HE SHOULD HAVE BEEN OPEN ABOUT THE TWO MAIN HORSES IN HIS LIFE….. A TRIGGER ONE FOR MOVIES, AND A TRIGGER TWO FOR ON THE ROAD APPEARANCES - Keith Hunt
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.
YES, ROY DID SAY THAT A VET TOLD HIM THAT GALLOPING SO OFTEN WOULD WEAR A HORSE OUT, SO IN MANY LONG DISTANCE SHOTS ANOTHER PALOMINO WAS USED; BUT THE FACT REMAINS TWO HORSES WERE PROMINENT….. ONE FOR MOVIES THE OTHER FOR "ON THE ROAD" APPEARANCES - Keith Hunt
Roy's filming alone would have worn out the finest horse specimen in the world in 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.
NOT AT ALL, AS THEY SAY, YOU CAN ONLY BE IN ONE PLACE AT ONE TIME….. THE "ON THE ROAD" AND "TRICK" HORSE WOULD HAVE MANAGED FINE, UNLESS INJURED OR SICK - THEN YOU TELL THE PEOPLE THE SITUATION AND THE SHOW GOES ON AS THEY SAY, WITHOUT A HORSE; THERE WAS MUCH TO THE ROAD SHOWS BESIDES A "TRICK" HORSE - Keith Hunt
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 IN SOME MOVIE SCENES A HORSE DOING CERTAIN THINGS CAN BE SEEN [STOPPING THE FRAME] NOT TO BE THE "ORIGINAL" 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 WAS IN THE MAIN ONE HORSE THAT DID THE TOURING, RODEO, HORSE SHOWS ETC. THE ONE NOW OFTEN CALLED "LITTLE TRIGGER" THE ONE I CALL "TRIGGER TWO." IT WAS TRIGGER TWO THAT WAS THE TRIGGER IN THE MOVIE OF 1952 CALLED "SON OF PALEFACE" - THAT HORSE STILL HAD MANY YEARS LEFT IN HIM TO PERFORM, HENCE STILL TOURING IN 1956-57. TRIGGER JR. A REGISTERED TENNESSEE WALKER CAME ALONG LATER INTO THE EARLY 1960s. THE THREE MAIN TRIGGER HORSES WERE NOT RELATED TO EACH OTHER - Keith Hunt
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.
NO YOU CANNOT HAVE A HORSE ABLE TO DO AS MANY TRICKS AND OR DANCE STEPS ETC. AS WHAT TRIGGER TWO AND TRIGGER JR. COULD DO; THE AMOUNT OF TIME SPENT IN TRAINING FOR OTHER HORSES TO "STAND IN" WOULD NOT BE COST JUSTIFIED, WHEN THEY MAY NEVER BE USED. ROY AND HIS TRAINER HAD PRODUCED "THE LIBERTY HORSES" AS PART OF THE SHOW, TO GIVE VARIETY. ROY ALSO HAD HIS "TRICK SHOOTING" AND OF COURSE WESTERN SINGING - SO MUCH TO STILL MAKE A SHOW IF YOUR MAIN HORSE WAS NOT AVAILABLE FOR SOME REASON - 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…..
YES MOST OF THE SHOTS WHERE "FEARLESS" ABILITY WAS NEEDED WAS DONE WITH THE ORIGINAL TRIGGER. AS ROY HAS SAID, THAT HORSE WAS FAST, FEARLESS, AND A WONDERFUL "COWPONY" - ROY COULD AND DID ROPE FROM HIM, TRICK-RIDE FROM HIM. ROY SAID WHEN TRIGGER WAS MADE [THE ORIGINAL TRIGGER] THEY THREW AWAY THE BLUEPRINT - Keith Hunt
The Original Trigger
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 well.
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.
CORRECTLY THE "STOCKING" IS A "SOCK" IN TODAYS TERMED MARKINGS; A "STOCKING" WOULD GO MUCH FURTHER UP THE LEG - Keith Hunt
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. …….
MORE DETAILED INFORMATION ON "TRIGGER" IS GIVEN IN THE MORE RECENT BOOK OF 2007 BY LEO PANDO CALLED "An Illustrated History of TRIGGER - the Lives and Legend of Roy Rogers' Palomino"
MANY ODD AND STRANGE THINGS WERE DONE AT TIMES IN THE PUBLICITY OF ROY ROGERS' LIFE….. LIKE "REVERS NEGATIVE" PHOTOS, MAKING TRIGGER JR. LOOK LIKE HIS MANE FELL ON THE RIGHT SIDE, BUT IT TRUTH IT NATURALLY FELL ON THE LEFT SIDE.
THE BEST MOVIE TO NOT ONLY SEE THE BUILD AND MARKINGS OF TRIGGER TWO, AS WELL AS HIS ASTONISHING TRICKS, IS THE 1952 MOVIE "SON OF PALEFACE" - A CLASSIC FAMILY ENTERTAINMENT.