Trigger - Roy Roger's golden palomino, Trigger (born 1932) was called "The Smartest Horse in the Movies" because of his ability to perform a variety of tricks (some 60) including counting, doing the hula, untying ropes, knocking on doors and walking on his hind quarters. Trigger's first film appearance was as Maid Marian's horse during his ride through Sherwood Forest in The Adventures of Robin Hood (193. That same year as Roy Rogers was to star in the Republic movie Under The Western Stars (193 he was shown several horses from which he selected a Palomino named the Golden Cloud (Trigger's registered name.) Reportedly after riding the horse just 100 yards, Roy never looked at another horse. He purchased the horse for $2,500 in 1938 and eventually outfitted it with a $5,000 gold/silver saddle. Roy Rogers once said that "he felt that Trigger seemed to know when people were watching him and that he recognized applause and just ate it up like a ham!" The name Trigger was credited to Smiley Burnett (Rogers' sidekick) who mentioned the horse was quick on the "trigger" referring to how fast the horse ran.
Rogers' horse was the focus of the movie My Pal Trigger (1946) wherein Rogers' himself named a new-born horse after saying "You're kind of quick on the trigger, son." Trigger also appeared with his newly foaled colt in the Republic Films sequel Trigger, Jr. (1950).
Paul K. Fisher of Souderton, Pennsylvania sold Trigger Jr. To Roy Rogers. Trigger Jr. Was registered as Allen's Gold Zephyr. And foaled in 1941. His sire was Barker's Moonbeam and his dam was Fisher's Gray Maud. He was bred by C. O. Barker, of Readyville, Tennessee. Barker's Moonbeam was sired by Golden Sunshine whose dam was Golden Lady. All were palominos.
On July 3, 1965, the original Trigger died at the age of 33. His mounted remains are now on display at The Roy Rogers Dale Evans Museum located in Branson, Missouri (formerly located in Victorville, California). Rogers' related in his book Roy Rogers: King of the Cowboys (Collins, 1994) that when Trigger died at the age of 33 that he (Rogers) just couldn't bury him. Inspired by the animals mounted on display in the Smithsonian, Roy had Trigger mounted rearing on his hind legs.
Rogers once said "When I pass away just skin me and put me up on Trigger and I'll be happy." A wax figure of Roy waving atop the mounted remains of Trigger is on exhibit at their museum. Mounted along side of Trigger is the mounted remains of Bullet, Roy's German shepherd canine companion. Both Trigger and Bullet starred with Roy Rogers and Dale Evans in the western adventure THE ROY ROGERS SHOW/NBC/1951-57.
Trigger won the P.A.T.S.Y. Award in 1953 (the animal equivalent of the "Oscar®"). Trigger was such an important part of Roy's life that he was sitting on top of Trigger when he proposed to Dale Evans in Chicago in 1947. Dale's horse is called Buttermilk.
This was Roy Rogers favorite poem, it was written by his friend Mike Bright.
I saw an old film clip of an elder Roy recite this poem from memory, with a tear in is eye. Roy said, "In all the years, over 100 movies, with all the tricks and stunts, he never saw ol Trigger stumble.
Trigger by Mike Bright
You've heard the tales of man and beast
Of how they rose to fame
Here's the story of a horse, that's true,
And Trigger was his name.
A Stable horse - that's what he was;
Just a horse on a movie lot.
But he caught the eye of a cowboy star,
And that horse won't be forgot.
He was a steed of rarest beauty
As he raced across the plain;
That golden palimino
With the flowing tail and mane.
We watched him at the rodeo
As he would rear and bow and prance
You've never seen a horse like that.
Why, that horse could even dance.
We watched him on the movie screen;
The greatest horse of all.
With the king of the cowboys on his back,
He held his head so tall.
When the outlaws got the upper hand
And there seemed to be no hope in sight;
When it seemed his master's doom was sure.
Ole Trigger took up the fight...
The smartest horse in the movies,
That's what they used to say.
But he's the smartest horse that ever lived
And ever came our way...