A Nebraska Cable TV Network ponied up $225,000 for Roy Roger’s horse, Trigger, during an auction of memorabilia from the Roy Rogers Museum which was auctioned off by Christie’s. Trigger’s sale exceeded the estimate of $100-$2000. The museum closed in December, 2009 after two steady years of declining visitors.
The Trigger in the auction was the original Trigger (Rogers had two “ringers”, Little Trigger and Trigger Junior, who were used in appearances and some movies). Trigger was born on July 4, 1934, on a small ranch co-owned by Bing Crosby and was originally named Golden Cloud. A registered Palomino, Trigger was supposedly sired by a Thoroughbred; his dam was unrecorded but thought to be a cold blood mare.
Trigger, who was a stallion, stood 15 hands high and started his movie career in 1938 when he was ridden side saddle by Maid Marion in the movie “The Adventures of Robin Hood.”
Rogers became aware of him the same year when he rode him in his first movie “Under Western Stars”. It’s unclear exactly when Rogers purchased him (some reports say 1939 or 39 and others say the early 1940s) but his price of $2,500 was astronomical for the time — the equivalent of $30,000 today. In fact, part of the confusion over the purchase date is that Rogers paid on an installment plan.
Trigger was supposedly named because he was so quick of foot (and of mind) Rogers later said of him, “He would turn on a dime and he’d give you 9 cents change.”
Rogers never used his reins, whip or spurs on Trigger, who would respond to touch and hand movements.
Trigger’s bridle, which is being auctioned with his parade saddle.
Trigger became known as “The Smartest Horse in the Movies”, performing some 100 tricks, including counting, doing the hula, untying ropes, shooting a gun, knocking on doors and walking on his hind legs for up to 50 feet.
Trigger appeared in all of Roy Rogers’ 188 movies, as well as the Roy Rogers Show on NBC from 1951 to 1957. He was so popular that he had his own comic book series. Whenever he made personal appearances Rogers always tried to make sure that Trigger appeared outside of the arena so that kids who couldn’t afford a ticked could see him. Rogers retired him in 1957.
Trigger was about 32 when he died on July 3, 1965, at the Rogers’ ranch in Hidden Valley, California. Reluctant to bury him, Rogers chose to have him mounted in his iconic rearing position. He was then put on display at the Rog Rogers/Dale Evans Museum with Dale’s horse Buttermilk and the couple’s German Shepherd Bullet.