SALUTE TO GLENN RANDALL AND OTHER TRAINERS OF TRIGGER, LITTLE
TRIGGER, TRIGGER Jr. AND ALL HORSE TRAINERS ANYWHERE
It is fitting that any noting of the THREE Triggers that Roy
Rogers made famous, be given to Glenn Randall, who was primary
THE trainer of those horses.
I have read where Roy once said, "I have often wondered IF I
would have made it in Hollywood WITHOUT Trigger."
I think Roy was being very humble here. He was a gifted cowboy
actor, superb horse rider, good looking, had a fine singing
voice, one of the very best in the Country/Western field of
music, a yodeller, and was the "founder" of the famous "Sons of
the Pioneers" singing group. So, in my mind there is no doubt Roy
Rogers would have made it in Hollywood, even without any of the
Yet, it must be remembered that he did have the Triggers, and
they were wonderfully trained horses. We need to give credit
where credit is due to the men, and one particular man who was
behind the training of the three Triggers.
"A bus load of fans drove out once to where they were filming an
episode and somebody asked Roy, 'To what do you attribute
success?' Roy walked over to Trigger, and he took Glenn Randall's
hand, and he said, 'These two right here' He attributed his
success to Trigger and Glenn Randall Sr." - Bill Catching
But before Glenn Randall came on the scene, we need to go back to
the start. THE Trigger was born on a race horse breeding ranch
party owned by Bing Crosby. The manager at that time, when
Trigger was born was a man called Mr.Cloud. The horse we know
today as Trigger, was registered under the name Golden Cloud, in
the year 1934. If it was not Mr.Cloud himself, it was his staff
who would have done the initial breaking and training of Trigger,
before being sold to Hudkins Stables. Trigger was nearly three
when registered, and you normally can start breaking in a horse
after the age of two years.
The Hudkins Stables bought Trigger to be part of their horses
that they rented out to the movie industry. The staff that the
Hudkins Stables had continued to train Trigger and groom him for
the movies. By the time 1938 rolled around and Roy was on the
scene to be Republic's new singing cowboy, Trigger was in great
shape for Roy and Republic to rent him in their cowboy movies.
We need to recognize that the Hudkins staff did a super fine job
with Trigger. As Roy as often said, when he tried Trigger out
there was no need to look at or try out any of the other horses.
Roy has said, he had a super reign on him, and could spin on a
dime and give you 9 cents change.
The actual names of the people who groomed and trained Trigger at
Hudkins Stables have been lost to my knowledge. But they need to
be remembered and honored for their part in training Trigger to
be the horse he was when Roy Rogers chose him to be his horse in
Roy's first leading star role in the classic "Under Western
Stars" movie of 1938.
ROY BECOMES A WESTERN STAR
As time went on before, during, and after, his first years as a
movie cowboy, he had built up a number of close friendships. The
men in the "Sons of the Pioneers" western singing group were
among them. They had worked and lived on the road together for a
few years before 1938. By 1940 he had a manager that would become
a very close friend for the rest of their lives together - Art
Rush. He was close to Pat Brady, who became his comical side-kick
in the 1951 to 1957 TV series of "The Roy Rogers Show." And of
course we cannot forget ol' Gabby Hayes. Roy said Gabby was like
a father, a brother, and a friend, all in one.
Roy had at least one other horse trainer before Glenn Randall
came on the scene, but by about 1940/41 Glenn was hired to do
the training of the horses either directly belonging to, or
"rented" by Roy to do the movies or on the road appearance gigs.
That trainer before Glenn Randall was a man by the name of
Griffin. According to Republic director William Witney, Griffin
was not only responsible for care and training of Trigger and
Little Trigger, but he transported them wherever necessary.
It is said by some that Griffin left Rogers' employ sometime in
1941 to work in the defense industry. According to author David
Rothel, Glenn Randall claimed to have started working with
Trigger, replacing Jimmy Griffin, the same year. Glenn was to
stay working with Roy Rogers for the next 24 years.
Leo Pando interviewed Corky Randall when writing his book "An
Illustrated History of Trigger" and Corky says he does not
remember a Jimmy Griffin. According to Corky, Rogers was already
in possession of Little Trigger when he started working with
Glenn and needed the palomino trained for a forthcoming
appearance at Madison Square Garden.
Ah, all that would square with what I've told you about under
"WHEN Roy bought Little Trigger." Griffin left sometime in 1941
and Glen Randall came on to continue training the horse. Roy
ALREADY HAD little Trigger, by the time Glenn came to train for
him. So indeed Roy could well have bought Little Trigger sometime
in 1940, or early 1941, after Art Rush had become Roy's manager,
and had started to get the cowboy film-star much more money than
Republic was paying Roy. Hence when Glenn Randall came to replace
Jimmy Griffin, Roy was already the owner of the palomino we now
call Little Trigger. It is that horse that became the travelling
rodeo and show appearance horse in the main. See my posts under
this section "Roy Buys Little Trigger" and "My Tribute to Little
Corky said that Roy was like a father to him, and lived with the
Randall's for a while, around 1947, the exact year and length of
time Roy spent with the Randall's he could no longer remember in
specifics. I've never read where he could remember the specifics
on that part of Roy's life.
Yes, this was at the time when Roy lost his wife Arlene after she
had given birth to Dusty. I think we can all understand he would
have needed support in one way or another, finding himself a
widower, with children to raise.
By this time, Roy had entrusted Glenn with his horses, Little
Trigger was being trained by Glenn from about 1941. THE Trigger
of "Under Western Stars" fame, Roy bought in 1943, and Glenn had
trained him to do some tricks.
All in all Glenn was entrusted with a very important part of what
was making Roy Rogers famous around the world in the middle and
latter part of the 1940s. Both Roy and Dale have publicly praised
Glenn Randall as a superb horse trainer. On one of the "Happy
Trails Theater" shows which was started in the 1980s, Roy and
Dale mention how Glenn Randall was chosen to be the horse trainer
for the epic movie "Ben-Hur" (1959). They tells us the story of
how Charlton Heston wanted to actually do the stunt of driving in
the chariot race. But Heston was concerned about maybe not
winning the race (as he was supposed to do). Glenn told him, "You
stay in the chariot, and the horses you are driving WILL win the
As a horseman myself, you can bet your last dollar that Glenn had
made sure the fastest horses were pulling the chariot Charlton
Heston was driving. And Heston did stay in the four horse drawn
chariot and so indeed did win the race. It is quite the chariot
race, so sometime if you have not seen that movie Ben-Hur, then
rent it and remember it was Glenn Randall who was the horse
trainer. It was filmed in real-time, live and in person, and I've
read it was done with limited effects. No horses were injured or
killed, which apparently was not the case with the "silent era"
production of Ben-hur.
It is a fact of history that the two men, Roy Rogers and Glenn
Randall spent hours upon hours together with their horses as they
travelled all over the USA and parts of Europe. It was a pretty
common knowledge in the 40s and 50s that Glenn Randall was THE
trainer of horses for Roy Rogers.
What was maybe not common knowledge in those decades, was that
Glenn Randall had and owned some of his own horses. Apparently
Glenn owned Trigger look-alike "Pal" and the palomino "Liberty
Horse Act" which was part of many shows of Roy Rogers. I have one
performance of that horse act and it is indeed quite amazing what
those horses were trained to do, voice and lunging whip trained.
At the end of that show the horses are all standing with front
legs up on the round raised platform that made up the circle the
horses were doing their act inside. At a certain command or sign
all the horses turn their head half way to the left (they were
moving counter-clockwise), all at the exact split second, just
the exact amount of turn, then stop. It was precession like you
have never seen, all turning their heads and stopping together as
if robots set to the thousandths of a second.
It was Randall who bought the buckskin Quarter horse that Dale
would rename "Buttermilk" for the TV series from 1951 to 1957.
That horse belonged to Randall till the end of the series and
then he GAVE IT to Dale, according to Corky Randall.
The two men worked together as a team for all those 24 years they
were a team. Roy owned some of the horses, Glenn owned some of
the horses. Roy owned a look-alike horse for Trigger called
"California" and once lent the horse to Corky Randall during a
college rodeo in San Francisco for a calf roping contest. And
speaking of that, there is a great photo in one of the books I
have showing Roy roping a calf from this very horse "California."
Well, it was a different era back then, and people behind the
scene like a Glenn Randall did not get any credits mentioned on
screen in a movie. No screen credits for stuntmen, horse
trainers, wagon or stage-coach drivers. That is surely not the
case today. I think every name of every person that had anything
to do with the making of the movie is on the credit list today.
Yet of course how many of us are faithful readers of "the
credits" at the end of the movie.
So Glenn Randall was the guy behind the scenes in the main back
then, but now when all these fellows that had a large part in the
making of Roy Rogers and Trigger are all dead, they now are
rightly getting the credit spread abroad near and far, in
articles such as you are now reading.
To be continued