CHASING TRIGGER - HIS DOUBLES
From the book "An Illustrated History of TRIGGER" by Leo Pando
Trigger Jr., the Roy Rogers Remuda, and Other Doubles
"When he visited a horse farm during this quest the horseman
would nearly always ask him: 'Well, sir, just what kind of horse
are you looking for?' Roy would explain that he wanted a fine
western stock horse, with a good rein and preferably a palomino."
- William Roper.
Apart from Little Trigger, Trigger Jr. was the most-used double.
Corky Randall could confirm only three others: Pal, California,
and Monarch. He also stated that many of the palominos that
doubled Trigger were not owned by Roy Rogers but were provided by
TRIGGER JR. and Paul K. Fisher
"During the shooting of the picture "My Pal Trigger," one scene
called for the birth of a colt. The studio arranged to rent one
from a California horse breeder, and the rancher was so pleased
with the deal that he gave the colt to Roy when the picture was
completed. Roy began training the young horse to become Trigger's
understudy. He named him Trigger Junior. Later Roy and Glenn
Randall took over the training, and Trigger Junior appeared in
two pictures as Trigger's son."
This charming account of Trigger Jr's origin from the book "Roy
Rogers - King of the Cowboys" by William Roper made a nice story
for young fans. Unfortunately, like the two foals who were sired
by Trigger in "My Pal Trigger," the story is a fantasy.
Rogers purchased Trigger Jr. much later in his career. Trigger
Jr. was born in 1941 and died 28 years later in 1969.
Trigger Jr. was originally owned by breeder O.C.Barker of
Readyville, Tennessee. When Paul K. Fisher of Souderton,
Pennsylvania, owned the gorgeous palomino, the animal was
registered with the Palomino Horse Breeders Association (PHBA) as
Allen's Gold Zephyr. Glenn Randall purchased the horse as Rogers'
agent. The original registration was later canceled and the
palomino was re-registered as Trigger Jr. by Roy Rogers of
Hollywood, California. The horse was also registered with the
Palomino Horse Association [PHA] and the Tennessee Walking Horse
Allen's Gold Zephyr was sired by Barker's Moonbeam (registered
with the Tennessee
The Tennessee walker had wonderful conformation and great looks.
It's no wonder that his original owner, Paul Fisher, and Roy
Rogers wanted to use the palomino as a breeding sire.
Walking Horse Breeders Association [TWHBA], color: (yellow) and
he by foundation Tennessee walking stallion Golden Sunshine.
Zephyr's dam was Fisher's Gray Maud (registered TWHBA, color:
(gray) and she by Curlee's Spotted Allen out of Susie Hill. At
five years of age Allen's Gold Zephyr stood 15.3 hands tall and
weighed about 1050 lbs. He was described as dark golden in body
color wit four evenly matched white stocking legs, blaze face,
and white mane and tail.
Trigger Jr. received billing on personal appearance tours.
Marquees read, "Roy Rogers, Trigger, and Trigger Jr." Glenn
Randall taught Trigger Jr. a full range of crowd-pleasing tricks
including how to dance. Beyond the movie that bears his name in
the title, "Trigger Jr." was not used in films but extensively in
personal appearances throughout the 1950s and 1960s. On certain
occasions he was used as a double for Trigger. Copies of an old
Perry Como television show are in circulation with an appearance
by Roy Rogers, Dale Evans, and "Trigger." It's in fact Trigger
Jr. standing in. When author David Rothel asked Rogers about
using Trigger Jr. in movies, he replied, "Very little, we used
him for personal appearances. He wasn't worth a nickel as a
cowboy horse, but he could do a beautiful dance routine."
At one time Fisher Farms was considered one of the largest
palomino breeding farms in the United States. Before Roy Rogers,
Hoot Gibson and Tom Mix were customers of Fisher's. Paul Fisher
often took his horses to Madison Square Garden Rodeo to show and
sell them. Fisher's palominos were in great demand, as Roy Rogers
found out when he tried to buy Allen's Gold Zephyr. Rogers stated
that it took him six years to buy Trigger Jr. Fisher had many
offers besides the one from Rogers. At first Fisher refused
because the horse was so important to his breeding program.
Rogers really fell in love with Trigger Jr. during the filming of
the movie that bears the palomino's name, but Fisher had still
not agreed to sell him. Fisher allowed Rogers to use Trigger Jr.
in personal appearances, according to Corky Randall.
It has been said that Trigger Jr. and Buttermilk had stalls in
the first Roy Rogers and Dale Evans Museum when it opened in 1966
in Apple Valley, California, and lucky visitors during the first
three or four years got to see them in the flesh.
Rogers used Trigger Jr. as a stud and raised some good palomino
foals on his Happy Trails Ranch in Oro Grande, California. The
horse that actor Val Kilmer led on stage as a tribute to Rogers
and his B-western cowboy peers during the Academy Awards show in
March 1999 was reportedly a descendent of "Trigger." Since
Trigger was never bred, this horse - if descended from any of
Rogers' horses - was most likely a descendant of Trigger Jr.
For many years, Rogers also raised and trained Thoroughbred race
horses at his Happy Trails Ranch. Run Trigger Run took first
place in his maiden race. Another Rogers race horse was called
Triggero. In October 1993, he auctioned the last of his herd,
which included grandsons and granddaughters of Trigger Jr. The
palomino sired several foals that were registered with TWHBA, and
his bloodline continues today.
(Diane, who runs the Trail Riding and Summer Camp for children,
at the Ranch here in Calgary was going to buy a lovely, but older
horse, who was a descendant of Trigger Jr. But during the winter
months, before she was to bring the horse to the Ranch, the horse
died - Keith Hunt)
PAL O' MINE
In the "Bells of San Angelo" (1946) and the "Golden Stallion"
(1949), Dale Evans rode a brown and white pinto. It seemed she
and Rogers decided she needed a regular horse and had started
looking. It's no surprise they tried to match Evans at first with
another palomino. Around 1950 she was using one named Pal for
personal appearances. Evans rode him in the pilot episode of her
television series, "Queen of the West." The show never aired (it
is included in the DVD release The Rogers Family Presents: TV
Collection, Pilots and Rarities) because Evans joined her husband
in the highly successful and long-running "The Roy Rogers Show"
in 1951. She didn't use Pal in that particular show because he
looked too much like Trigger. It was felt that the audience would
get the two horses confused. In "Rainbow Over Texas" (1946)
Rogers rode Pal in a Pony Express race where one rider used a
string of horses. Pal was the first mount Rogers rode to compete
in the event. Pal also doubled as Trigger on occasion during
Dale Evans rode a very young Pal during a brief sequence in "My
Pal Trigger." In the scene, after Rogers discovers Trigger's
sire, the Golden Sovereign, dead in a corral, Evans rides up on
Pal's original name was Pal O' Mine and he was foaled on a ranch
owned by Joe and Mary Reynolds in Douglas, Wyoming. Pal O' Mine's
dam was a buckskin mare named Steel-Dust. His sire was a bay
stallion named Temple Boy, the son of Sir Barton and Temple Girl.
As noted earlier, this has led some to believe it was the
original Trigger who was a descendant of the famous Sir Barton.
Pal O' Mine was first sold to a rancher named Walt Rymill, who
employed Orval Robinson, a trainer and former jockey, on his
ranch. Glenn Randall, a native of the Lusk-Torrington area, was
acquainted with Rymill. In the 1940s, when Randall was looking
for a horse to double Trigger, he called Rymill and was invited
to see Pal O' Mine at the Rymill Ranch. Robinson happened to be
riding the horse when Randall arrived. Immediately Randall was
struck by Pal O' Mine's resemblance to Trigger, except that he
had white stockings on both hind legs and the front left. Randall
bought the horse for $2,500.
"The Lusk Herald" dated May 25, 1944, printed the statement: "It
is understood Rogers gave $2000 for the horse. He intends to
train him to take the place of Trigger, who is getting a little
too old to follow the strenuous life of a movie actor."
At first it was assumed that Pal O' Mine became Trigger Jr. but
this was not the case. Darryl Manring of Lusk, while visiting
the Roy Rogers Museum in Victorville in May of 1993, was able to
speak to Rogers about Pal O' Mine. The King of the Cowboys was
very candid about the horse. He verified that Pal O' Mine became
a star in certain ways. He called the horse versatile and
talented. He acknowledged that Pal O' Mine was in some of his
movies, was Dale Evans' mount during public appearances for a
time, and was Rogers' favorite trail horse.
Corky Randall said that his father maintained ownership of Pal
and that the horse never belonged to either Dale Evans or Roy
Rogers. Pal was eventually sold to a local dressage rider.
Corky Randall recalled another Trigger double named California
that Rogers bought at a California horse show. The palomino had a
narrow blaze, shaped almost like a diamond up on his forehead,
then narrowed down to his muzzle. As with many of the more
anonymous doubles, records on this particular horse have not
surfaced. When he was still in junior college, Corky used the
horse. Rogers loaned him the palomino to compete in a college
rodeo in San Francisco to rope calves. California doubled Trigger
a lot in "The Roy Rogers Show" on television.
Roy Rogers roping a calf on Trigger double California (Roy Dollow
collection) (Not reproduced to save space. Roy obviously spent
time roping as they do in Rodeos. He was quite skilled with the
lariet, and used that skill in some of his movies - Keith Hunt)
Fight sequence from the color movie Trigger Jr. (1950). Stunt
double California stood in for the title character during this
confrontation with a wild stallion named Phantom. (Not reproduced
here - Keith Hunt)
In the second fight sequence from Trigger Jr., California was the
stunt "Trigger." Director William Witney said that the horses
were not injured doing these scenes because wires were used to
pull and guide them off one another."
The last Trigger double Corky Randall was able to identify was a
tall palomino named Monarch. Larry Roe identified the horse in
William Witney's book "Trigger Remembered." According to Roe,
Monarch was ridden by Dale Evans (along with Trigger) during a
dressage sequence in "My Pal Trigger" (1946). She also rode him
shortly afterward in an equine square dance scene. Monarch acted
up when Roy Rogers rode up on his mare Lady. Rogers also rode
Monarch in some of the climactic racing footage at the end of "My
Pal Trigger." Monarch was used sometimes as a stunt double. He
appeared in "Home in Oklahoma" (1946) and was ridden by stuntman
Joe Yrigoyen in "North of The Great Divide" (1950).
Monarch may be seen in a couple of photographs in this book, the
most notable being the "Trigger and His Doubles" photo from Pic
magazine and a still from "Pals of the Golden West" (1951).
Monarch was a very close match to the original Trigger in head
type and size, but with white socks in the rear and pale socks in
front. His wide blaze was similar to Trigger's but came down
through his right nostril, where Trigger's dropped behind.
Larry Roe also spotted both California and Monarch in two Spade
Cooley low-budget westerns, "The Silver Bandit" (Friedgen, 1947)
and "The Kid from Gower Gulch" (Friedgen/Aster, 1950).
In "The Silver Bandit," California (all decked out in fancy
parade tack) was ridden by the title character. Monarch was
ridden by Spade Cooley when he chased the Silver Bandit, who was
trying to escape in a wagon.
In "The Kid from Gower Gulch," protagonist Craig Morgan and
female lead Peggy Andrews both rode California. Shorty, a little
cowboy, rode Monarch during a calf roping demonstration. Spade
Cooley climbed on board the palomino in a brief sequence right
before three cowboys pursed him in a long chase sequence.
LIBERTY Palomino Act
At one time Roy Rogers performed on tour with a string of eight
highly trained palominos in a ring without halters or reins, the
kind of act one would see at a circus. The horses were owned by
Glenn Randall and referred to as the Roy Rogers Liberty Horse
act. On occasion the King of the Cowboys used the act on personal
appearances at rodeos and state fairs for a couple of summers.
Individual horses came and went. Corky Randall recalled a
particular palomino named Tiger, who was out of an Oklahoma
stallion named Phillips 66, as being very difficult. Satin was
the first lead horse. Tiger later became lead and was followed by
Murphy, Chalk Eye, Dick, Sonny, and Elmer. When Glenn Randall was
putting the act together, he purchased horses in groups. Koko,
the stallion who was eventually teamed with singing cowboy Rex
Allen, was bought as part of such a group, because of his
chocolate color, he was never considered for the Liberty Horse
Trigger had a number of four-legged sidekicks. Frog Milhouse's
mare, Ring-Eyed Nellie, and Raymond Hatton's little mule, Dinah,
were the first. Gabby Hayes' bay, Eddie, was probably his most
regular sidekick. Rogers' German shepherd, Bullet, was probably
his best known, along with Dale Evans' light buckskin,
According to Ken Beck and Jim Clark's Encyclopedia of TV Pets,
Buttermilk wa born in 1941. It was trainer Glenn Randall who
found Buttermilk, a buckskin quarter horse gelding, with dark
points. That Buttermilk survived his early life and made it to
Hollywood is a story in itself. He was bought as a colt from a
horse trader as he was being taken to slaughter. Buttermilk had
been severely abused and was very mean. The cattle farmer who
rescued him gave him the name Taffy and began training him as a
cutting and roping competition horse. With patience and kindness,
Taffy eventually came around to assume a friendly disposition.
Glenn Randall, always looking for animals to train, noticed Taffy
in a competition at the miniature rodeo in Nebraska and purchased
the little buckskin, originally for Corky. Later he thought the
horse would make a good mount for Dale Evans. Buddy Sherwood, a
wrangler on the set of The Roy Rogers Show, suggested the name
"Soda." Evans named the gelding "Buttermilk" from a line in a
Hoagie Carmichael tune, "buttermilk skies."
Dale Evans first rode Buttermilk on screen in 1950 in "Twilight
in the Sierras." Actress Penny Edwards rode Buttermilk when she
co-starred with Rogers in "Spoilers o f the Plains" and "Heart of
the Rockies," both released in 1951. Evans was on maternity leave
at the time, having just given birth to her baby Robin.
Buttermilk was even noted in Dale Evans' comic book. While Evans
was switching her publisher from DC to Dell, her horse was given
the name Soda for the last few issues. So Pal was in the DC
series at first, then Soda came next for a brief stint, then
Buttermilk in the Dell series.
Buttermilk appeared in all but six Roy Rogers Show episodes that
aired from 1951 to 1957. Many people associated with Rogers and
Evans have commented that Buttermilk was a hard ride; it was
rumored that the diminutive horse even managed to unseat Glenn
Randall one time.
(It was sure nice to hear how Buttermilk was saved from slaughter
and given love and kindness, to be won over to a nice
disposition. Yes that was nice to hear, but as for a horse, I
personally was never impressed as a kid watching the Roy Rogers
Show on TV, with Buttermilk. He was just too much of an "average"
horse that to me had very little beauty about him, for someone
like Dale Evans to have as "her mount" in the TV series - Keith
Roy Rogers referred to Trigger as a good "using" horse for chases
and such. He claimed that Trigger never had any ankles, hocks, or
knees go wrong in all the chases through the rocks, over the
mountains, down steep grades, and so forth. Rogers claimed that
he did running mounts and dismounts and never had any problem
with Trigger. The palomino could outrun any horse on the set. But
you had to be "with him" whenever you gave him a cue to go left
or right or he'd spin right out from under you. However, quarter
horses are bred for a fast takeoff and Buttermilk was actually
faster in short distances than Trigger. This irritated Rogers and
often required retakes of scenes when Evans broke away faster.
Rogers had to ask Evans to slow Buttermilk down when they were
shooting chase sequences for their television show.
(This is all kinda silly comparison, for Trigger was a much older
horse than Buttermilk. It would be like comparing a 50 year old
sprinter to a 25 or 30 year old sprinter - Keith Hunt)
According to Corky Randall, the light buckskin Buttermilk did
not have a double per se. Although he appeared on most of the
episodes of The Roy Rogers Show, he wasn't ridden hard. On rare
occasions, when a double was necessary, a grey horse was used for
Corky Randall also claimed that his father, Glenn, eventually
gave Buttermilk to Dale Evans after The Roy Rogers Show had been
canceled on television. Buttermilk died in 1972. Like the
original Trigger, he lived to 31 years of age.