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Trigger's Story

From a Race Farm to a Movie Star!

From the book: "An Illustrated History of TRIGGER" by Leo Pando



TRIGGER'S STORY



"Any cowboy worth his stuff owes half of what he gets to his
horse."- Roy Rogers

Watching the original Trigger on film, noting all that's been
said by those who knew him, and even making allowances for
palomino look-alikes who stood in for him, it's easy to conclude
that he was a very special horse. "Trigger was the best and I'll
probably never find another like him," said Rogers on The Merv
Griffin Show in 1982. It's no wonder he was held in such high
regard as a movie star that only Roy Rogers himself got higher
billing on marquees and movie screens. Baby boomers cannot think
on Roy Rogers without remembering "Trigger." Well over a quarter
century after the palomino died, the King of the Cowboys was
still signing autographs "Roy Rogers and Trigger." Even the
president of the United States remembered the palomino the
morning after Roy Rogers passed away. In a press conference Bill
Clinton said, "Like most people my age, I grew up on Roy Rogers
and Dale Evans and Trigger."

Even though it took many palominos to build the legend of "the
Smartest Horse in the Movies" and even though the original
Trigger didn't perform a great variety of tricks, he made up for
it in charisma, screen presence, and beauty. But he was much more
than a mere glamour boy. He could also rear up stonishing and run
like the wind. He was every inch the movie star he was billed as.

Rogers and Glenn Randall would have been foolish to endanger
Trigger unnecessarily or to wear him out. Little Trigger and
Randall, along with many double horses and stunt riders, were a
strong support system for Trigger and Roy. It took a great deal
of work to pull off the illusion of a wonder horse, but no amount
of work would have mattered without a great horse at the top.
But where did that great horse come from?

In the 1930s singer Bing "White Christmas" Crosby was part owner
of a stock farm in the San Ysidro back country near San Diego,
California. Crosby raised racing horses and even held a yearly
race with the proceeds going to charity. His ranch was managed by
a former U.S. border patrolman turned horse breeder from
Nobelsville, Indiana, named Roy F. Cloud,Jr. 
In 1934, on the 4th of July, a very special palomino was born on
the Crosby ranch. It was named Golden Cloud an would achieve
worldwide fame as Trigger.

According to Robert W. Phillips, Trigger actually raced at the
Caliente Race Track.


Roy Rogers gave 1932 as the date of Trigger's birth in interviews
from 1957 and 1965. That would have meant he was 33 when he died
in 1965, something Rogers maintained throughout his career.

Author David Rothel, in his book "Singing Cowboys," stated that
Trigger was three when actress Olivia de Havilland rode him in
the Warner Bros. film "The Adventures of Robin Hood" (1938).
Director William Witney indicated that the palomino was three or
four during the filming of his first movie as Trigger "Under
Western Stars" 1938). Those dates made Trigger's birth year 1934.

According to the Golden Cloud registration form provided by the
president of the Palomino Horse Association and Stud Book
Registry, Steve Rebuck, 1934 is the correct date of Trigger's
birth. The form (registry number 214) carries two dates: "March
25, 1937" in the upper right-hand corner and "April 1, 1937" on a
second date line. It reads:

I, Roy F. Cloud, Jr., apply for registration for Golden Cloud.
Sex Stallion. Bred by Captain Larry Good. Sired by Tarzan. Dam
Apac. Light Ch. [This is the color of the dam, "light chestnut,"
apparently accidentally entered on this line; it is entered again
below.] Color of sire Golden Palomino. And dam, if known Light
ch. Foaled July 4, 1934. Now aged 2 yrs. 8 mo. 27 d. Body color
Golden Palomino. Color of mane and tail White. All markings White
blaze extending from above eyes to

......
Trigger registration form (the Palomino Horse Association
courtesy of Steven Rebuck and Patricia Rebuck) is photo copied in
Pando's book, p.39 - Keith Hunt
......


nostrils. Left hind white from ankle to cornet [coronet, i.e., an
area just above the hoof]. Owned by Roy F. Cloud Jr.

The lavish coffee table book Roy Rogers: "King of the Cowboys" by
Georgia Morris and Mark Pollard quoted Rogers as saying, "Trigger
made every picture. He was four and I was 26 when we made our
first picture." In this instance Rogers was right with regards to
Trigger's age during the filming in 1938 of "Under Western
Stars." It means the palomino was born in 1934 and was 31 when he
died in 1965. It remains a mystery as to why Rogers usually said
Trigger died at age 33, which would have made the year of his
death 1967, not 1965.

(Sometimes you get a notion stuck in your mind, said aloud to
people so many times, that it becomes reality to you; you no
longer remember facts that would prove you wrong - Keith Hunt)


BLOODLINE AND CONFORMATION


Trigger's bloodlines are not confirmed in his registration form
and have always been a source of some confusion due to the
various descriptions of him, his sire, and dam. When discussing
Trigger's origin in interviews, Rogers usually claimed that he
was "half Thoroughbred and half cold-blooded; his sire was a race
horse at Caliente, and his dam was a coldblooded palomino. He
took the good parts from both of them." It seems Rogers was
incorrect with regards to the dam's color. The original Trigger
inherited his color (as well as his speed) from his sire, and his
fine conformation from his dam. Trigger's wide chest, short back,
and powerful legs allowed him to rear safely straight up in his
signature pose, with Roy Rogers in the saddle, waving with his
right hand.

According to registry expert Pat Mefferd, stepdaughter of stunt
man Fred Kennedy, who was around the original Trigger numerous
times, "he was not half Thoroughbred, maybe one quarter. His
half-bred sire could have been from the stock owned by Bing
Crosby. His brother Bob Crosby had a Thoroughbred farm in Hemet
for many years, so this is entirely possible." Some have claimed
Trigger was a grandson of the great Sir Barton, the first Triple
Crown winner. After Sir Barton's race career was over, he was
purchased by the U.S. Remount Association in 1933 and sent to
Wyoming Remount Station, where he was bred to many unregistered
mares. That is where he stayed until his death in 1937. In actual
fact, it was Pal, a palomino look-alike Rogers and Dale Evans
both rode, who was a descendent of Sir Barton. This was according
to Wyoming veterinarian Dr.Jack Ketcham and confirmed by trainer
Orval Robinson, both who worked for Pal's former owner, Walt
Rymill.

At one time the Tennessee Walking Horse Breeders Association ran
national magazine ads stating that Trigger was indeed a Tennessee
walking horse. They were supported in an article by a horse
expert who made the same assertion! The problem with that claim,
as is often the case when Trigger is discussed, is determining
WHICH horse they were referring to. This inconsistency may stem
from the fact that Trigger Jr. was a registered Tennessee walking
horse. It also needs to be noted that Trigger, Little Trigger,
and Trigger Jr. were not related.


EARLY MOVIE STRABLES

When Hollywood was still just a spot on the map, and studios were
called "camps" or "colonies" operating out of makeshift locations
like abandoned barns, an enterprising

......
Roy F. Cloud, Jr. (left), on his beautiful palomino Golden Cloud.
(Second rider and horse are unknown.) This is the earliest known
photograph of Trigger; it was taken circa 1936, probably in San
Diego, California, when the horse was just over two. (NOT
REPRODUCED to conserve space on this Website - Keith Hunt)
......


individual named Fat Jones realized he could make money renting
horses to the fledgling movie industry. This was circa 1912, when
a company called Pathe began filming two-reeler westerns outside
of Los Angeles. Jones was sure movies would develop into a major
industry in California, and he built a stable with barns,
corrals, and a blacksmith shop. He purchased land in North
Hollywood and started scouting the Southwest for all types of
horse-related transport. The Fat Jones stable became a magnet for
real cowboys who came to Hollywood for jobs in pictures during
the winter months when work was slow in ranch country. While the
majority did not find permanent employment, a few stayed. Two of
the most famous were the legendary western author Will James and
character actor Ben Johnson.


HUDKINS Brothers Stable

At the same time Jones was starting his business, four brothers,
Ace, Art, Clyde and Ode Hudkins, ran a riding academy in the Los
Angeles area. Ace and Art owned the stable. Ace, Ode and Clyde
handled the day to day operations. At first they even assisted
Jones, but soon they broadened their academy to a sales and
rental business. They gained a reputation in the film industry
for their stock company, which could furnish horses, cattle,
western gear and horse-drawn vehicles, and eventually became
second only to Jones. Even with all that, their real claim to
fame would be one special palomino they acquired from Bing
Crosby's San Diego stock farm. William Witney wrote that Clyde
Hudkins, while on a horse buying trip in San Diego, first laid
eyes on Trigger in the pasture on the Crosby ranch where he was
foaled. Clyde saw that the colt would be perfect in movies with
his great looks. Horses with the best breeding and classiest
markings were leased for the benefit of the star of a motion
picture. They were called "cast horses." Apparently Trigger was
part of a herd Ace Hudins purchased all at once.

As is common practice, Trigger would have been just over two when
he was started under saddle. The earliest known picture of
Trigger shows him being ridden by his then owner Roy F. Cloud,
Jr. It is safe to assume that the animal was still on the San
Ysidro ranch in 1936. Although the date is undocumented, it was
around 1937 that Trigger was moved from the San Diego ranch to
the Hudkins stables in Los Angeles. Once there, he got movie work
right away. With his golden color, great proportions and
intelligence, he was a natural movie horse. By 1937 he was on the
sets of "Cowboy from Brooklyn" (Warner Bros.) and "The Adventures
of Robin Hood" (Warner Bros.). Trigger was some times referred to
as the "Barrymore of horses" - a reference to John "the great
profile" Barrymore, an actor from the silent movie days, noted
not only for his skills as a thespian but for his classic looks.
The Hudkins Brothers stable was originally located in Burbank
where Forest Lawn Cemetery now stands. It was later relocated to
North Hollywood and finally Coldwater Canyon. At one time, the
Hudkins' and Glenn Randall's ranches were within a couple of
blocks of each other in North Hollywood near Sherman Way. Both
concerns were removed from that area due to zoning changes in the
mid-1960s.

Typically the Hudkins brothers would begin work at about five in
the morning. The wranglers arrived and checked a booking sheet
for the day's rentals and locations. There would be a number of
studios requiring the use of Hudkins stock. Horses were grained,
cleaned up, and tacked accordingly. Horses and vintage wagons
were loaded onto long Pullman trucks and driven to three possible
destinations: a studio for interior shooting; a movie ranch
location in north Hollywood; or on an extended trip that might
cross state lines. Republic Studios was located at 4024 Redford
Avenue in North Hollywood.

Ace Hudkins would have had a hard time listing all the films for
which he supplied horses. It was all in a day's work, whether
supplying a cast horse, a dozen horse extras, or any combination
a movie studio required. On any given day there might have been a
request for a gentle mare for a star who wasn't much of a rider,
or perhaps for a fancy, highly schooled palomino who could make a
movie star stand out.
Work was steady at the Hudkins stable. Wranglers and craftspeople
were busy with any number of jobs, from training saddle horses to
repairing and cleaning tack. With all the horses that needed to
be shod and wagons needing maintenance and repair, the blacksmith
shop was constantly busy. On top of all that activity, teaching
actors how to ride properly was one of the most important
functions of the stable.
Horses were a business for the Hudkins brothers. They didn't care
which motion picture production company rented their stock, just
so long as their animals were on location. Studios paid about ten
dollars a day for extra or chase horses, and these animals made
money consistently. Cast horses, who did not work as often,
commanded from fifty to one hundred dollars a day. For every week
Trigger was a Hudkins rental horse, there was the probability he
was on a film set. It cost more to rent Trigger for a week than
what Roy Rogers was being paid initially as a star.


FROM SLYE TO WESTERN TO ROGERS

Born Leonard Frank Slye in 1911 in Cincinnati, Ohio, the future
King of the Cowboys grew up on farm near Duck Run. After a move
to southern California in 1930, he teamed with Tim Spencer and
Bob Nolan and formed the Pioneer Trio. They added fiddler Hugh
Farr and his brother, guitarist Karl Marx Farr, and became the
Sons of the Pioneers in 1934, the same year Trigger was born in
San Diego. Slye and the Sons of the Pioneers would go on to
appear in the films of Dick Foran ("Song of the Saddle," Warner
Bros., 1936, and "California Mail," Warner Bros., 1936), Gene
Autry ("The Big Show," 1936; "The Old Corral," 1936; "The Old
Barn Dance," 1938), Charles Starrett ("Gallant Defender,"
Columbia, 1935; "The Mysterious Avenger," Columbia, 1936; and
"The Old Wyoming Trail," Columbia, 1937) and even Bing Crosby
("Rhythm on the Range," Paramount, 1936).

Slye signed with Republic as a solo in 1937 and with that came a
name change to Dick Weston. In October of the same year Slye
heard that Republic Pictures was conducting auditions for a new
singing cowboy because Gene Autry had walked out on his contract
after completing work on "The Old Barn Dance" (ironically, "Dick
Weston" had a small role in the movie as a square dance caller).
Weston's screen test led to a contract and another name change to
Roy Rogers. He was given the starring role in what would have
been Autry's next film, "Under Western Stars," originally titled
"Washington Cowboy." The publicity department at Republic
Pictures came up with a fictional biography for the newly
christened Rogers. He "was a true-blue son of the West, born in
Cody, Wyoming, and raised on a sprawling cattle ranch." He was
even supposed to have labored as a ranch hand in New Mexico for a
while "before finally making his way to the bright lights of
Hollywood."

Just as movie studios had casting directors for actors, they had
casting directors for animals. Filmmakers depended on them to
find not only photogenic animals but those with even
temperaments, able to perform well on movie sets. Bill Jones was
head livestock man at Republic; he had also worked at Hudkins
Stables. When Roy Rogers began to work on "Under Western Stars,"
all the stables that leased livestock to the studios were asked
to send their cast horses. According to Rogers, about a
half-dozen mounts were brought in for the equine casting call. He
actually rode a couple down the street and back. The third horse
he tried was Trigger, and he never looked at the rest.
Unfortunately the wrangler who was handling the Hudkins stock
that fateful day has never been identified. When he handed Golden
Cloud's reins to Roy Rogers, he made one of the most important
introductions in western film history.

In a 1976 interview, Rogers recalled, "I knew I wanted a palomino
to start with. The third horse they showed me was Trigger. I
hadn't liked the first two, but when I took O' Trigger for a test
ride, I told 'em he was the one I wanted. I didn't even look at
any of the others." Circa 1995 Rogers said the same thing on the
Horseworld television show in a nine minute segment on Trigger to
host Larry Mahan. A champion rodeo rider, Mahan questioned Rogers
about first acquiring Trigger, and the King of the Cowboys
answered, "So I'll never forget the day they called me up to go
over to pick out a horse. They had seven or eight of them there
and I believe Trigger was the third one I got on. I never looked
at the rest of them."

"Under Western Stars," the first B-western to premiere on
Broadway, was a hit. According to William Witney, everywhere
Rogers toured, audiences would ask for Trigger. Rogers realized
that he was not in a position to take the palomino on personal
appearances because he didn't own him. He had to make some kind
of commitment to owning the horse (or a look-alike horse).


BILL OF SALE

As with Trigger's date of birth and bloodlines, sources differ
regarding the year when Rogers purchased him. Several different
years have appeared in different sources. They range from as
early as 1937 to as late as 1941. The official tale was that
Rogers bought Trigger right after he rode him in "Under Western
Stars," released in 1938. Numerous published articles even stated
that Rogers used a guitar as part of the down payment. One of the
earliest biographies of Roy Rogers and Dale Evans, "The Answer is
God," gives 1940 as the year Trigger was purchased. Another
popular story is that Rogers bought Trigger right after he came
back from the first tour for "Under Western Stars." In Liberty
magazine (December 1946) Rogers was quoted as saying he bought
Trigger in 1937 on the installment plan. "About the second or
third picture, I went to Hudkins Stables and bought him from
them." Rogers and Hudkins apparently worked out some kind of
deal, part of which was the exclusive use of Hudkins stock in all
his films. He reportedly told Clyde Hudkins, "Sell him to me and
if I'm lucky and hit the jackpot, I'll see that Hudkins' horses
are on my set." This was of major importance and would serve
Rogers well in future negotiations with Republic, who was unaware
of the transaction. Writer Sam Henderson stated, "Roy raised
Trigger from a colt, and scrimped and saved to buy him, feed him
and train him." In his autobiography "Happy Trails," Rogers
claimed, "We rented my palomino from Hudkins, one of the stables
Republic did considerable business with. So I drove out there one
day and, after quite a bit of horse trading, bought him for
twenty-five hundred dollars."

In her autobiography "Cowboy Princess," Cheryl Rogers-Barnett
claimed that her father bought Trigger in 1938 for two thousand
dollars on time payments after their third film together: "Dad
and Ace Hudkins had struck up a deal for Dad to make payments
while Ace continued to rent Trigger to Republic - but he wouldn't
let them put another cowboy on him - until the last payment had
been made."

However, according to the official bill of sale, Rogers made a
down payment to Hudkins Stables in September of 1943 and paid the
balance on Trigger the following December.

Roy Rogers never threw anything out and his son Dusty eventually
made Trigger's actual bill of sale public. It revealed that
Rogers purchased Trigger from the Hudkins Brothers for $2,500.
Trigger's bill of sale is dated September 18, 1943, and reads,
"Sold to Roy Rogers, one palomino stallion named "Trigger" for
the sum of Twenty-five Hundred Dollars. ($2500.00) Five Hundred
Dollars has been paid down and the balance, $2000.00 to be paid
on Roy Rogers return from New York."

......
Pando gives a photo copy of the official bill of sale in his book
on page 48 - Keith Hunt
......


HUDKINS STABLES
MOTION PICTURE EQUIPMENT 3744 Barham Blvd. Hollywood, Calif.
Phone Hollywood 9078

TERMS:    NET CASH, No DISCOUNT account payable on or
following month

DATE Sept. 18, 1943 INVOICE NO. ORDER NO. PICTURE NO.

Sold to Roy Rogers, one palomino stallion named "Trigger" for the
sum of twenty-five hundred dollars. ($2500.00) Five hundred
dollars has been paid down and the balance. $2000.00 to be paid
on Roy Rogers reyurn from New York
 
HUDKINS STABLES

DATE Dec.6th 1943

Received of Roy Rogers Two Thousand Dollars, ($2000.00.) payment
in full for one palomino stallion named "Trigger".


Top: Trigger bill of sale (copy courtesy of Joel "Dutch" Dortch).
Bottom: Receipt from Hudkins Stables for payment of the balance
on the purchase of Trigger. 

......
The original bill of sale is reproduced in Pando's book - Keith
Hunt



Ray White was one of the first who noted the bill of sale and
1943 as the purchase date for Trigger in the June 2001 issue of
"Western Horseman" magazine in an article titled "B-western
Horses." Trigger's bill of sale was eventually acknowledged by
others and the details became well known via the Internet.

Of course the record of Trigger's purchase in 1943 dispels the
myth that Roy Rogers bought him when he was making only $75 a
week. By 1943 Republic was paying him around $1000 a week and he
was making big money with personal appearances and rodeos. The
bill of sale does not say who transacted the deal. It is not
known for sure if it was between Rogers and Ace Hudkins, or
between Hudkins and Glenn Randall acting on Rogers' behalf.

The purchase date on the bill of sale is remarkable because it
means Roy Rogers was riding a horse he did not own for five full
years after appearing with Trigger in "Under Western Stars!"

Trigger also appeared in six other films that we know in that
same period: "Cowboy from Brooklyn" (Warner Bros., 1938), "The
Adventures of Robin Hood" (Warner Bros., 1938), "Juarez" (Warner
Bros., 1939), "Shut My Big Mouth" (Columbia, 1942), "Bad Men of
the Hills" (Columbia, 1942), and "Silver City Raiders" (Columbia,
1943). Obviously Rogers did not have exclusive use of the
palomino; Hudkins Stables was controlling where and when Trigger
worked. It's safe to assume that Rogers was rightfully concerned
that Trigger was up for grabs to anyone who could afford to rent
him. It's understandable that in later biographies and
interviews, the publicity-conscious Rogers avoided making it
known that he was ever riding someone else's horse. This was not
how Rogers or his family wanted the public to picture the
relationship between Trigger and Roy.

No hard-copy, documented evidence has ever surfaced regarding any
arrangements between Hudkins and Republic or Rogers for Trigger's
services between the time that Rogers first started riding him
and the time he actually bought him. Did Rogers strike a deal
with Hudkins promising that he would buy Trigger eventually? Was
there an understanding between both parties that Trigger could be
rented but not sold to anyone else? William Witney claimed that
Rogers asked Clyde Hudkins directly if he would sell Trigger to
him are that Hudkins, seeing potential in Rogers and Trigger,
made a counter-offer: he would take care of the horse until
Rogers was in a position where he could pay him a little at a
time.
Why didn't anyone else buy Trigger? It doesn't seem to have
occurred to Herb Yates, president of Republic Pictures. Fans just
assumed Rogers owned the horse. Perhaps there were offers made to
Hudkins but turned down because of the agreement with Rogers? If
he didn't have the resources to buy the palomino, there were many
cowboy stars who did. Rogers' regular use of Trigger during his
filming period may have limited the palomino's availability for
rental to other studios for big chunks of the year, to the point
where there was no chance another western movie star would use
the horse enough to become established with him in the public's
mind.
While no record of any arrangement has come to light, one could
reasonably accept thaf Roy and Hudkins reached an oral agreement
- as often described by Rogers - which was then sealed with a
handshake. We kids did our part too, by accepting every palomino
Rogers rode as "Trigger." At the time, there likely seemed no
pressing need for Rogers to own the original Trigger.

There's much to consider regarding the timing and reasons (some
not so obvious and perhaps a little controversial) behind when
Rogers purchased Trigger. With what we know so far, some
reasonable conclusions may be drawn.

Roy Rogers wasn't being paid a lot by Republic Pictures and was
under a Term Players Contract from October 13, 1937, through
December 3, 1948.  His initial weekly salary of $75.00 (by 1940
it had been doubled to $150) was certainly not enough to buy,
transport, outfit and maintain an expensive horse. Although his
first movies were successful, the young Rogers was probably not
sure if he could sustain a career as a singing cowboy. A movie
cowboy's fortune back then could change at the drop of a Stetson,
and if Rogers felt he was constantly just shy of having to rejoin
the Sons of the Pioneers, it was not without reason. After an
eight-year run, even the popular Hopalong Cassidy films had begun
to wane. Some of the older cowboy stars were taking lesser roles
as heavies and supporting characters. Some had moved on to
unrelated businesses. Roy Rogers would have noticed all that
going on around him and undoubtedly wondered if he really should
buy an expensive horse.

We now have the benefit of hindsight and know what a huge star
Roy Rogers became, but back then he could only have hoped for the
best. What he had was a dream, a plan, and lots of talent. He
also had great timing and luck. He was sharp enough to take
ownership of his image and his new name from shortsighted studio
head Herb Yates. This would serve him well as Rogers would
eventually make most of his income from personal appearances and
merchandising. Still, he had to gamble on a business that was
fickle at best and that alone was reason not to buy Trigger at
first, though he surely wanted to.

When Gene Autry, Rogers' only real singing cowboy rival, went
into the army and Herb Yates started putting more money and
promotion behind Rogers and his movies, his career went into high
gear. He soon had become the number one box office western star.
That certainly gave him the confidence to think that there might
be a sustained future in being Roy Rogers, and he knew darn well
that Roy Rogers wasn't Roy Rogers without Trigger! In "The Weekly
Reader" (April 1954), Rogers was quoted as saying, "Some children
like Trigger more than they do me. They write letters to Trigger.
I am glad that they like my horse."

Roy Rogers and Trigger were so closely linked that Rogers did not
look right on a horse if it wasn't a palomino. On those rare
occasions when a script put him on another mount for example,
when Trigger was stolen in "Under California Stars" (1948) and
Rogers was forced to ride a chestnut - he looked out of place.
Roy Rogers was not complete without Trigger but it was a two-way
street. Had Herb Yates or some other movie person purchased
Trigger, the horse might have had only a short career as
attractive equine transportation.

Rogers' draft status also may have been a factor in when he
bought Trigger. America was at war from 1941 to 1945. According
to Robert W Phillips' book "Roy Rogers," Rogers' status jumped
around during that time - at first he was enlisting, then he
wasn't. In 1943 Rogers' draft status was 3-A (sole surviving son,
married with children). During the war, as things got hotter and
manpower scarcer, men were being reclassified. With no immediate
end in sight, Rogers received notice that he had been
reclassified 1-A. Republic nervously began grooming Monte Hale to
take his place. That changed as the war drew to a close. In 1945
Rogers was reclassified 3-A because of a change in the deferment
age. Furthermore, as it turned out, the war ended before Rogers'
number ever came up.

Like John Wayne and so many others who never actually saw combat
or active duty, Rogers did a tremendous amount for the war
effort, giving freely of his time. According to publicity, he
could flat outsell most entertainers when it came to war bond
drives. Wrote Joel Dortch, "Roy was a patriot who loved his flag
and country. He sold millions of dollars worth of War Bonds
during World War 11 and made numerous USO tours of military bases
with 'Trigger,' performing for the men and women in uniform.
During one record setting tour of Texas bases, Roy and Trigger
made 136 performances in just 20 days! Years later he made a tour
of Vietnam to cheer up the troops fighting there."

Gene Autry said that Herb Yates offered to call in some favors
and keep him out of military service. Autry refused, which added
more tension between him and Yates during their second contract
dispute. Yates made good on his threat to Autry to throw Republic
Pictures resources into building up Rogers. Did Yates make the
same offer to Rogers that he made to Autry - to pull some strings
to keep him out of the military? Would he have done so with-
out Rogers' knowledge in order to protect his studio's one
remaining singing cowboy star? All this would have certainly had
an influence on Rogers' decision to buy Trigger. Would he have
made a major purchase that would only be useful to him as a
civilian if he were going off to war, perhaps never to return? It
does not make sense that he would unless he was darn sure he was
going to be around. It seems safe to assume Rogers did not
believe he was going to serve in the military when he decided to
buy Trigger. Why and how he got out of military service - whether
it resulted from his having kids, or being 31 years old at the
time, or some other reason - is unknown. At any rate, Rogers
wouldn't have spent $2,500 on a horse if he wasn't fairly certain
of his future as a movie cowboy.

Finally - there's Rogers' contract status with Republic Pictures,
which was coming up for renewal in 1944. Rogers always claimed
that his dispute with Yates was not over his contract, but over
money for secretaries needed to help deal with the tons of fan
mail he was receiving. He had to hire help out of his own pocket
to handle bags of letters arriving weekly. Perhaps he could have
reasoned that buying Trigger in 1943 would give him better in
contract talks between his agent Art Rush and Yates. Rogers
wanted his negotiating bases covered. If Rogers owned Trigger,
Rush could offer Republic Pictures a package deal. If things
didn't work out with Republic, he could take his package deal to
other studios, and Yates would know it. Since Rogers owned his
name and likeness, he could shop around.

Said Rogers in his book Happy Trails, "Republic was planning to
shoot a movie entitled 'Front Page,' and Yates wanted me to play
the part of a cocky newspaper reporter. It just didn't make sense
to me to suddenly switch my image just after I had begun to
establish myself in Westerns. So we got into a pretty heated
argument which resulted in me telling him in no uncertain terms
that I wasn't going to do the part. 'In that case,' he said,
'maybe we'll just have to put some other cowboy on Trigger and
let him do your next movie.' 'You may get someone to do the next
picture,' I told him, 'but he won't be riding Trigger. I bought
him.' Once aware that the horse belonged to me, Mr. Yates signed
Lloyd Nolan for the part in 'Front Page,' and I went on about my
business of being a singing cowboy."

Fortunately Yates was slow to recognize how important Trigger was
to Rogers' career; otherwise he might have even pressured Hudkins
to sell and then teamed the animal with anyone he wished. Rogers
was honest about the reason for buying Trigger; he just altered
the time frame to fit his public image. Rogers didn't want it
known that he waited five years. It makes sense that he bought
Trigger when he did. Underscoring all of this was the fact that
Rogers may have gone for a few years at first not knowing whether
he would actually get to own Trigger in the end.
When considering the circumstances surrounding the timing of
Rogers' purchase of Trigger, his contractual relationship with
Republic must be taken into account. Beyond the signing of his
first contract in 1937, we must speculate about the length and
specifics of his contract with the studio. Contracts did not run
only seven years, as has been often assumed. According to
"Republic Confidential - the Players" - "Security - the primary
personal inducement in these alliances - was fleeting for most
players, with nearly 60% contracted for one year or less before
they were terminated while only 26 endured for more than three
years. Of the top 11 whose options were repeatedly renewed, Roy
Rogers was extended for over 11 years.... Termination did not
necessarily spell an end to Republic appearances, however, since
many of the 146 either converted to multiple-picture arrangements
as did Rogers and Gene Autry or returned in single films as
free-lancers. 

On page three of the same book, there's a box showing Rogers'
term contract ran from October 13, 1937, to December 3, 1948. The
exact terms and conditions obviously underwent changes during
this period. Unless the Rogers family chooses to make that
information public, we simply cannot know the details of those
changes. It can be assumed that the purchase of Trigger would
have been an advantage to Rogers' position with the studio,
whenever it happened. The impression from reading Rogers' many
biographies was that he made very few financial moves without
consulting his managers, and the business aspects of purchasing
Trigger would have had to be a driving force in the decision. As
Dusty Rogers has pointed out, Trigger was not a pet. Rogers and
his team surely realized that losing the association of "Roy
Rogers and Trigger" was not a wise business decision. Trigger was
sharing top billing with Rogers in all the films, and it wouldn't
have looked good to splash the horse's name all over the place
and then have some other cowboy ride off on him!

Trigger expert Larry Roe theorized that Roy Rogers probably knew
the palomino was being used in 1943 for Columbia's movie "Silver
City Raiders" and that knowledge really motivated him to buy the
horse. While it will never be proven conclusively, consider the
following. It's obvious Rogers loved Trigger, he knew how popular
the horse was with fans, and he had even bought a silver saddle.
Rogers' agreement with Hudkins Stables could have continued
status quo; it wasn't absolutely imperative that he buy Trigger
then. Republic Studios was renting the horse for him, and he'd
already bought Little Trigger. However, the bottom line was that
he had no control over how Trigger was used or what star could
ride him. Republic Pictures may not have cared as long as they
could get the palomino for Rogers' movies. Trigger's conspicuous
appearance in "Silver City Raiders" was the last straw.

Rogers stated: "Trigger was still owned by the Hudkins Stables,
which meant that I couldn't take him out on a personal appearance
tour if I wanted to; it also meant they could lease him to
another cowboy actor if they wanted to."

In 1938 Trigger appeared in six movies. Warner Bros. "The
Adventures o Robin Hood" was probably his first. A review exists
dated May 7, 1938, which means the film had just hit theatres.
Republic Pictures was promoting Rogers as its next singing cowboy
star, and publicity shots of him riding a dark bay had already
been printed. "Under Western Stars," Rogers' first movie for
Republic as the lead, was released on April 7, 1938. What those
dates indicate is that both films were probably in production at
the same time. They were followed by "Cowboy from Brooklyn,"
another Warner Bros. production, on July 16 with Trigger in a
cameo appearance. Three Roy Rogers Republic films filled out the
year: "Billy the Kid Returns," released September 4; "Come On
Rangers," released November 25; and "Shine On Harvest Moon,"
released December 30.

Trigger appeared in Warner Bros. "Juarez" in 1939. While
Trigger's Republic movies are well known from 1940 to 1941, it's
hard to believe he wasn't used in other sans-Roy Rogers movies,
although none have been discovered at this time. In 1942 he was
used in 10 movies, including two for Columbia: "Shut My Big
Mouth," released February 19, and "Bad Men of the Hills,"
released August 13.
Roy Rogers' movie "South of Santa Fe" released February 17, 1942,
was shot around the same time as"Shut My Big Mouth." Columbia did
not bother changing the saddle and used the same tack that Rogers
had. In Charles Starrett's "Bad Men of the Hills," Trigger's mane
was combed to the left side of his neck; his mane naturally
flowed to the right side. Trigger was in six movies in 1943, one
that we know of with Russell Hayden, "Silver City Raiders," and
five with Roy Rogers. By the time the palomino made this
appearance with Hayden, 39 Roy Rogers movies had been released.
Rogers' last movie with Trigger in 1943 was made in October, "The
Man from Music Mountain," and released on the 30th of that month.
Columbia most likely was using Trigger as Hayden's mount during
the latter part of October; "Silver City Raiders" was released on
November 4.
If Larry Roe is correct about Roy Rogers knowing that Columbia
and Russell Hayden were using Trigger in "Silver City Raiders,"
it's a safe bet that it was at this point in time when the King
of the Cowboys made up his mind to buy the palomino outright.
Trigger's bill of sale date is dated September 18, 1943. Rogers
went to Hudkins and finalized the deal. After that, nobody had
control over Trigger but Roy Rogers. Trigger could even be seen
as an early Christmas present Rogers gave himself in 1943.


CONTRACT

Trigger was never under contract with Republic, in spite of early
reports to the contrary. Doreen Morton, in her 1949 book "The
Palomino Horse," wrote, "Trigger's contract stipulates that he be
given equal billing with Roy Rogers, and that in each picture he
have at least three close-ups." Rogers is quoted in Elise Miller
Davis's 1955 biography "The Answer Is God": "Trigger shares top
billing with me. And he has a contract that calls for three close
ups and a direct part in motivating the plot in each picture. He
gets his own fan mail and his own salary." Nevertheless, when
author David Rothel asked Rogers in the 1980s whether Trigger's
contract called for three close-ups in each film, equal billing,
and scripts showing him helping to motivate the story, Rogers
replied that was nonsense, some publicity guy's daydream. Trigger
did not get a salary, not even scale. He was part of a package
deal with Rogers.


TAG LINES AND SCREEN BILLING

Roy Rogers' long time agent Art Rush jokingly offers the original
Trigger a contact to sign. In reality the horse was not under any
contract with Republic Pictures (Roy Dillow collection).
Trigger didn't start to get billing alongside Rogers on movie
posters and screens till the early 1940s. Posters from 1938 and
1939 do not bear his name. But by the time Dale Evans starred in
"The Cowboy and the Senorita" (1944), Trigger was well
established, and his name appeared right below Rogers' and above
everyone else's in the cast for the remainder of his career at
Republic Pictures. What's more, Trigger's name was printed in the
same size as Rogers' and larger than the names of the other cast
members.
What about screen billing? Trigger was not the first horse to be
so honored. Rogers was still one of the Sons of the Pioneers when
the group appeared in the Dick Foran western "The California
Mail" in 1936. Foran's beautiful palomino Smoke, in classic
western show tack, received star billing and the tag line "the
wonder horse." In "The California Mail" Smoke was instrumental in
driving the plot; he even killed two of the villains. Years
later, when Rogers became a star and finally had his own
palomino, he may have thought back on Smoke."

Many horses were dubbed "the wonder horse," beginning with the
temperamental black Morgan stallion Rex who achieved stardom in
the early days of film. Tom Mix was the first cowboy to use the
tag line "the King of the Cowboys." Mix's horse, Tony, was called
"the wonder horse"; so was Ken Maynard's horse, Tarzan. Autry's
horse, Champion, was referred to as "the world's wonder horse." A
popular comic book produced by Charleton in the 1950s and 1960s
titled Black Fury used the "wonder horse" tag on its covers. Even
Trigger was referred to as "the wonder horse" on toys
occasionally, and one of the three versions of the National
Safety Council statuettes awarded annually by Rogers read,
"Official Roy Rogers' Trigger The Wonder Horse."

Rogers and Republic started using the tag line "King of the
Cowboys" shortly after the film of the same title. In the last
scene of that movie, Rogers was referred to as "King of Cowboys."
In the film that follows, "Song of Texas," Rogers is introduced
in a scene at a rodeo as "the King of the Cowboys." The posters
seem to be different; Rogers and Trigger may have gotten their
tag lines on posters before they got them on screen. Trigger
received no screen billing up through "Song of Texas," released
by Republic in June of 1943. However, in the film that followed
in August of that same year, "Silver Spurs," the line "Trigger,
the Smartest Horse in the Movies" appeared right under Rogers'
name. Perhaps after Republic, Rogers and Art Rush decided to use
the "King of the Cowboys" title, giving Trigger his own tag line
was a natural next step. In "Shine On Harvest Moon" (1938),
Rogers refers to Trigger not only by name but describes him as
"the smartest horse I've ever had." Trigger even got billing
along with Rogers in his cameo appearance in "Hit Parade" of
1947, the Republic musical extravaganza, along with stars Eddie
Albert and Constance Moore. Trigger got fourth billing under Bob
Hope, Jane Russell, and Roy Rogers in "Son of Paleface"
(Paramount, 1952). During the film's opening credits, when
Trigger's name appears, the sound of a horse neighing is heard.
While Roy Rogers was billed as "King of the Cowboys" on movie
marquees, posters and publicity materials, he was not billed that
way on movie screens. However, after a while, Trigger was billed
as "the Smartest Horse in the Movies" everywhere including movie
screens.

According to "Variety," in order to make Rogers "king," a
publicity campaign in 1944 placed 192 billboards across the
country carrying 24-sheet movie posters featuring Rogers and
Trigger and announcing that he was "King of the Cowboys" and
Trigger was "the Smartest Horse in the Movies." The budget for
the campaign has been estimated from $100,000 to $500,000.
Nothing like this was ever done for another B-western cowboy, but
Republic was determined to make Rogers number one. While there
may have been resentment from the other cowboys after Rogers was
christened "King of the Cowboys," it was not of his doing. He
never referred to himself as king.

When Time magazine acknowledged Dale Evans' death in February of
2001, it was noted that despite her popularity, Trigger
out-billed her in Roy Rogers' films. Said Bill Whitaker of the
Abilene Reporter News, "When I interviewed her 15 years ago, she
recalled with humor how Trigger - Rogers' famous horse - 'used to
get billing over me.' Eventually the Uvalde native graduated to
the point she got billing over Gabby Hayes, Rogers' wizened,
bearded, ever-cantankerous sidekick. But more often than not,
Trigger still got more attention than she did, both in film
credits and in the film itself. 'It never bothered me that much,'
she said, 'but it bothered my agent.'"


TRIGGER'S NAME

Rogers claimed that sidekick Smiley "Frog Milhouse" Burnette
first suggested the name "Trigger" on the set of Under Western
Stars after someone commented, "As fast as that horse is, you
ought to call him Trigger. You know, quick-on-the-trigger?" This
scenario was sort of appropriated in the film "My Pal Trigger"
(1946). After Trigger's dam, Lady, gives birth to him, Rogers
notes that the colt was delivered quickly, saying, "You're kinda
quick on the trigger, son." Then he's asked, "What are you going
to name him, Roy?" To which he replies, "I just did: Trigger."

In point of fact, the palomino Roy Rogers rode to fame underwent
a couple of name changes before he was called Trigger. He'd
already been given the name Golden Cloud as a colt in San Diego
and kept it for a time after Hudkins Stables bought him. On the
fateful day Rogers discovered him among the string of horses
Hudkins Stables brought for him to audition, the wrangler in
charge referred to the palomino as "Pistol." According to William
Witney in his book "Trigger Remembered," the horse was renamed
"Trigger" the same day in 1937 that Leonard Slye's name was
changed to "Roy Rogers." Rogers, an avid hunter and outdoorsman,
liked naming his animals after parts of firearms. Remember his
dog Bullet?

It has been suggested that Ace Hudkins may have named Trigger.
E.J.Fleming wrote in an International Movie Database biography
that Roy Rogers went to Hudkins Stables looking for a horse to
use in his first starring vehicle "Under the Western Stars."
"After the lengthy ride Rogers and the horse had become instantly
attached, and although Rogers was only making $75 a week at the
time, he agreed to pay Ace $2,500 for the horse. It took him
several years to pay for his new partner, whom Ace had named
"Trigger." It's unclear by this text whether Ace Hudkins made the
claim himself or if Fleming made it for him. Roy Rogers mostly
recalled that a number of rental stables took horses to Republic
Pictures for him to try out, not that he went to any place in
particular looking for one.

It is uncertain who really named Trigger. It's a bit of the
Trigger legend that has been lost to time. B-western historian
Bobby Copeland stated, "I'm going along with Joe Kane on the
naming of Trigger. Roy always said, I 'believe' or I 'think' it
was Smiley. Kane said, without reservation, that it was he who
named the horse."

Many prefer to believe it was indeed Smiley Burnette who named
Trigger. Burnette was very creative and wrote hundreds of songs.
With his gift for clever lyrics, he may well have come up with an
appropriate name for the beautiful palomino.

It will never be known whether Rogers and the script writer for
the movie "Come On, Rangers" (1938) were having fun and making a
veiled reference to Trigger's first name, but in that film, when
the King of the Cowboys is asked by sidekick Raymond Hatton how
he's going to get out of jail, Rogers replies, "I'm going to ride
out on a cloud."

William Witney in "Trigger Remembered" claimed that Trigger was
nicknamed the "Old  Man" on movie sets. Apparently this was for
two reasons: to distinguish Trigger from his doubles and to
denote the horse's age and wisdom. Wrote Witney, "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 they lust couldn't film, despite numerous attempts,
because the horses were afraid. 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 story." Here Wit-
ney is referring to a chase sequence in Far Frontier (1948),
where Trigger narrowly avoids barrels thrown from a truck by bad
guy Roy Barcroft. Dodging those barrels was a stunt the horses on
the set refused to do.

Another source for the origin of Trigger's name comes from the
book "King of the Bs" by Todd McCarthy and Charles Flynn. They
quote Joe Kane, who directed many of Rogers' films: "While we
were on location on that picture [Under Western Stars, 1938],
they sent word up that he was going to be called Roy Rogers, and
they wanted a name for his horse. We were getting ready to shoot
a scene with a revolver, so I said, "Why don't we call him
Trigger? They took the name, and he became Trigger."

Yet another story of the origin for Trigger's name came from a
Roy Rogers comic book special section titled "My Pal Trigger"
(reprinted in Roy Rogers Western Classics, number 3 [AC Collector
Classics, 1990]: "The day I found Trigger was just about the
luckiest day of my life. He was only a romping colt then, but,
today, he is one of the greatest trick horses in the world. I
started right away to train him, and he learned so many tricks so
fast that I named him Trigger, because he could think 'quick on
the trigger.'"

In one instance, Trigger was referred to as Comanche when he
appeared with Russell Hayden in "Silver City Raiders" at Columbia
in 1943.


TRIGGER'S OFFSPRING

Rogers referred to "Trigger" as a stallion and that's the image
fans wanted to believe. Rogers also always described "Trigger" as
well mannered and gentle in spite of being a stallion. On a few
occasions, he claimed that he had a number of his children on
"Trigger" all at the same time. "Trigger has a different
personality," he said. "He was a stallion, but you'd never know
it, he was so gentle and kind. And he had a great rein on him as
a cow pony. I've had several of my kids on him at one time, from
his ears back to his tail and would just ... aw, he was a
fabulous horse."

There are many photos of Rogers and "Trigger" in their signature
rearing pose where the horse looks gelded. However, in some
pictures the horse is complete. A number of conclusions can be
drawn from this: Rogers was riding different palominos; Trigger
was gelded at a later time; or photos were doctored.

(I see no reason at all to doubt Trigger was always a sallion, he
was just of of those very rare stallions that are always on best
behavor. No concrete evidence has surfaced to prove he was not
anything other than a stallion till the day he died - Keith Hunt)

As to any offspring of "real" Trigger, the most famous horse in
the world, it's very doubtful whether Rogers would have allowed
anyone but himself to have kept the foal. Perhaps he wanted to
breed Trigger to maintain his bloodline but didn't for fear it
would change the palomino's disposition; in that case, he surely
wouldn't have bred Trigger for someone else. Promoter that he
was, he would have made the biggest deal in the world had Trigger
really sired a foal. Fans would have known about it. A foal might
have been a secret for a little while, but not for long.
In "My Pal Trigger," Trigger sired two identical colts at the end
of the film. In the "Golden Stallion" he sired "Trigger, Jr."
These are fictional scenarios, of course, but children,
understandably, wanted to believe them. The Rogers publicity
machine got carried away on occasion with regard to Buttermilk's
gender. It was once reported that the gelding was a mare and gave
birth to one of Trigger's offsprings.

A multitude of conflicting stories about Trigger's offspring have
appeared in print through the years. Rogers himself related many
stories in radio interviews and television guest appearances. A
mythical Trigger foal appeared in advertising from time to time,
some times in contests under such headlines as "name the son of
Trigger." In some instances, actual Trigger's birthday was often
used as a publicity gimmick, especially while on tour, and it
didn't matter which "Trigger" was on hand. In this photograph,
the original Trigger eyes what must be a carrot cake (Roy Dillow
collection). Winners were identified or alluded to as having
received an offspring or descendant of Trigger. Quaker Oats
sponsored a "Name the Son of Trigger" contest; first prize for
the youngster with the winning entry was a week with Roy Rogers.
Trigger's alleged offspring were offered to fans in contests
advertised in national magazines. In November of 1947 "Movie Star
Parade" magazine devoted a couple of pages to such a contest. The
headline read, "Win a Wee Trigger!" The tag went on to exclaim,
"Hurry, Hurry, Hurry, Here's your last chance to win a real live
colt, sired by Trigger, Smartest Horse in the Movies." The copy
went on, "Roy Rogers has offered two live colts, sired by the one
and only Trigger, to two alert MSP readers." Showing four still
photos from a Rogers film, the contest ad instructed readers to
identify the film and to finish a Roy and Trigger limerick.
An April 16, 1952, issue of the "Dispatch News Services" featured
a picture of Roy Rogers standing next to "Trigger" and a newborn
colt who had been named Easter. The caption read that Trigger
"has just become the father of a little colt and Trigger looks
down admiring at his offspring."

In 1946 a number of articles placed Rogers in the horse breeding
business with the slogan "Colts By Trigger." Published reports
claimed that Mr.J.B.Ferguson, a wealthy Texas oilman, tried but
failed to purchase Trigger in 1951 and had to accept one of his
specially bred colts. In a televised interview it was claimed
that a Pennsylvania girl was the recipient of the only colt
Trigger ever sired. In 1990 country singer Randy Travis allegedly
purchased the "grandson" of Trigger. All these stories delighted
fans and were great public relations.


PALOMINO Horse Breeding Business

Around the time "My Pal Trigger" was released in 1946, it was
reported in a number of fan magazines that Roy Rogers tried to
get into the palomino horse breeding business. Writer Len Simpson
reported that Rogers had decided to breed palominos "on a large
scale." According to Simpson the King of the Cowboys went so far
as to purchase five palomino stallions and twenty-five chestnut
brood mares. Rogers supposedly had a 560-acre ranch located seven
and a half miles west of Las Vegas.
The inspiration for the palomino horse breeding venture was
supposed to have come to Roy Rogers on the "My Pal Trigger" set
during the filming of the last scene when the title character is
about to become a father. Simpson even made the farfetched claim,
"For the first time, the actual birth of a palomino colt was
recorded for the screen." Apparently this article was written
before the movie was released. While there is a birth scene in
the movie, the actual act is not shown. The colt's name was
Golden Hours, and the article includes a photo of him with
Rogers. It's from the scene where Rogers has to shoot Trigger's
mother, Lady, after she has been attacked by a mountain lion.
An article by Don Allen makes many of the same claims Simpson's
article does: "Horse lovers wrote to Roy asking how they could
buy Trigger colts. Rogers was glad to oblige. Soon, however, the
demands began to pile up and Roy saw the possibilities of a good
business in breeding palomino colts. Today Rogers' ranch in Van
Nuys, California, proves Roy had a profitable idea. His farm has
24 brood mares, with 17 of them in foal. Each Trigger colt's
value is from $1,000 to $2,000, proof that Roy can make money
either riding or selling horses.

Allen even wrote about breeding for the golden palomino color:

"For breeding purposes, sorrel mares are used entirely. This is
because a palomino foal usually is the result of a union between
a palomino stallion and a sorrel mare. An albino colt result from
palomino stallion and a palomino mare." This differs from
Simpson's article, which claims, "For his breeding farm, Roy
largely is giving the break to the method he feels is most
successful-breeding of chestnut mares to palomino stallions.
Statistics point out that in such cases approximately seventy per
cent of the colts are palominos."

Rogers finally came clean about breeding Trigger and had the last
word on the subject. According to entertainment industry writer
John Chadwell, Roy Rogers said in an interview, "Not so."
Chadwell went on to state, "He [Rogers] felt that since Trigger
was so unusually GENTLE FOR A STALLION, he didn't want to take
thye risk that he (Trigger) might cgange if he were put out to
stud."

When asked by Sam Henderson for an article in "Western Horse"
magazine why he never bred Trigger, Rogers noted that for him the
best palomino horse coloring came when he bred his all-white,
quarter-type (but nevertheless "grade") stallion to quality dark
bay quarter horse mares. When it came time for a replacement, Roy
Rogers' famous horse bowed once again to a stand-in - a
quiet-mannered grade stallion named Whitey.

Champion rodeo riderLarry Mahan, host of the "Horseworld"
television show (cira 1995), asked Rogers about breeding Trigger
Rogers answered: "Some hores, if you breed them they get mean and
so old Trigger was so gentle. I've got picture of all my kids on
him, I had seven of them at this time, clear from his ears back
to his tail, you know. He was so gentle, he'd just stand there.
He knew be had to be responsible, you know."

"Today there are no descendants of Trigger. Roy believed that
fatherhood might make Trigger less gentle to people. 'My kids
could walk right under his belly and it wouldn't bother him.' Roy
explained. 'He was real gentle, and I wanted to keep him that
way.'" (Sam Henderson, "Leonard Slye: King of the Cowboys," the
nWestern Horse, December  1989, pp.40-41.

According to Corky Randall, Trigger, Little Trigger, and Trigger
Jr. were all stallions. Only  Trigger Jr. was ever used to breed.
Trigger doubles California and Pal were both gelded. All the
equine prizes for "name Trigger's colt" contests were from other
sources, not the real thing.


CODA

"Trigger" achieved such fame that while on tour he was often on
exhibit in full tack in front of an arena. Not only was this
great publicity and an incentive to go into the show, but it was
done so that kids who couldn't afford tickets could at least see
the beautiful palomino.

"Boys and girls like Trigger so much that I tried to station him
and his fancy trailer outside each auditorium for a few hours
before a performance. I figured that this was a way for those who
didn't have enough money for a ticket to get a chance to see
him." Roy has said.

A favorite story among Trigger fans had to do with the way Roy
Rogers proposed to Dale Evans. In 1947 the couple were headlining
a rodeo at the Chicago Stadium. As they were waiting on horseback
to be introduced, Rogers popped the question. While that story
has been refuted for another with a more pedestrian breakfast
setting, it's the story most fans prefer. For a cowboy proposing
to his lady love, what better place than on his horse?

Roy has said: "There was one other part of that bargain Dale had
to learn to love: my horse. Maybe it sounds odd that I proposed
marriage to her on horseback - not too romantic. He was my
partner and my pal, and part of nearly everything I did." 

                          ......................


To be continued


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