Greatest Horses of the Silver Screen

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In the February/March 2011 issue of American Cowboy, we list the top five greatest Western movie horses and their human companions. Our list includes Trigger and Roy Rogers, Silver and the Lone Ranger, Fritz and William S. Hart, Tony and Tom Mix, and Tarzan and Ken Maynard. What are some of your favorite horses from the silver screen?

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Being a die hard mule man I

Being a die hard mule man I gotta throw my two cents in here on what I think was one of the greatest mules that ever lived. His name was Big Red and he was a raceing mule. He was run against anything they would put against him. No one knew just how fast he could run because he would only run just fast enough to get ahead and stay there. He never lost a race. I switched to mules many years ago when I was breaking and traing both horses and mules. It wasn't the horses that turned me off it was the owners. Mule people are just nicer and easier to get along with.

The Cowboy Poet

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Matt Dillon

A thought came to mind as I was watching a Matt Dillon (James Arness) movie about Matt after he retired. He still rode that handsome Buckskin he rode in so many of the later Gunsmoke movies. I never heard the horse's name in all those years. Can anyone recall if Matt's Buckskin horse was given a name???

Kansas Jack

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Marshall Dillon rode Buck

Well Kansas Jack, asked what the name of Marshall Dillon's horse was use in GUNSMOKE . The one I recall was named BUCK. Although, the real name of this horse was "Dunny Waggoner." Buck was used on two sets. One with GunSmoke and the other was Bonanza. Ben Cartwright (Lorne Greene), also rode the buckskin gelding named Buck.

I have read that Lorne Greene disliked riding horses. At the end of the Bonanza series, the horses used, Little Joe played by Michael Landon rode Cochise, a black and white pinto piebald (also Paint) Eric "Hoss" Cartwright played by Dan Blocker rode a horse called Chubb (also Ginger & Paiute); Adam Cartwright played by Pernell Roberts, rode a gelding named Sport (also Beauty) and of course Ben riding Buck.

The horses real names were Tomahawk, Dunny Waggoner, Slippers and Streak. They were sold at the end of the series in 1969 for about $19,000 and it was romored that the horses were purchased by the man who did not like horses, Lorne Green.

Buck was used on the Gunsmoke set which began as a 30 minute TV program from (1955-1961) for 233 episodes and (1961-1975) they ran one hour programing for 402 episodes. I would believe the horse would have been change out somewhere during the 20 years, but I have yet too read anything to indicate so. However, that would mean the Lorne Greene would have had to lease it back to another set if Dillon continue riding the same horse. That merely is speculating but "Dunny Waggoner" aka BUCK was Marshall Dillon's horse according to Hollywood's famous Horses...

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Dillon's Horse

Thanks for that, Cowboy. I always wondered about that. Where do you get your info? You mention 'Hollywood's Famous Horses.' Is that a book?

Kansas Jack

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Screen Horses

Really surprised by all....no one has mentioned Dale Evans horse - BUTTERCUP!

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Buttermilk

I believe that Dale Evan's horse name was Buttermilk.

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John Wayne's movie horses

Does anyone know anything about the fine black thoroughbred horse the Duke rode in Quiet Man? All the Duke's horses were pretty special to see. As a saddlebred owner myself, I appreciate Dollar and Dolor. Pretty nice as they all were. Just especially curious about the big, black hunter in the movie.

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Great Movie Horses

I think you are forgetting about John Wayne's horse Dollar! But from my understanding, he actually rode two horses in his later movies, both named Dollar (one spelled Doller) Both were some of the most beautiful quarter horses I've ever seen. Check out Dollar in Rooster Cogburn. The man had great taste in horses.

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John Wayne's Horses

I read some information from Mel Priddle several years ago about John Wayne and his horses. Mel indicated that John Wayne actually was not all that fond of horses in his early days. He grew to appreciate them sometime in the late 1940's or early 1950's but truthfully, I personally would not know. Although he did purchase land in his later years and had his ranch. However, the horses name Dollar and the other Dollor from the spanish word Dolor meaning "Pain and or sorrow" and not spelled Doller but Dollor.

Surely Wanye's horses are worth mentioning. Although, I related better with those horse which seem to carry over to television getting to see them over and over with the same actors such as Roy Rogers because they became part of the excitement watching the Saturday morning shows before having to get out and finish the chores....

The remaining text is the information of Mr. Priddle:

They were always big horses and throughout his film career he used several different regular mounts, including "Duke", "Starlight", "Banner", "Steel", "Alamo", "Dollar",
"Beau" and "Cochise". I am not aware of Wayne ever having personally owned any of them.

In the 1930's he rode a beautiful white horse called Duke. This horse would perform tricks in his many "B" westerns and, in several of them, received top billing alongside Wayne.......e.g. "Starring John Wayne and Duke, The Wonder Horse" or "Starring John Wayne with Duke, The Miracle Horse."

His favorite during the late 1940's and 1950's was named "Banner". It was said that Wayne liked him because of his docile nature.

In the film "Eldorado" he rode an Appaloosa named "Cochise". The horse actually belonged to the film's director, Howard Hawks, and it is believed that Wayne himself didn't much care for it.

In his later westerns, he used three horses , "Beau", "Dollor" (also referred to as "Ol' Dollor"), and "Dollar". The name "Dollor" is apparently taken from the Spanish word "Dolor", meaning "pain" or "sorrow". "Beau" and "Dollor" both appeared in the film "True Grit". Beau can be seen jumping the fence with Wayne in the final scene.

Now, other than knowing that they are the most beautiful of creatures, I know very little about horses. But I am reliably informed that "Dollor" was a dark chestnut sorrel with a very wide blaze, which flared out over his lips, and with white stockings to the knee on the right front and both hind legs. The later "Dollar" was a sorrel gelding with a narrow blaze, and high stockings on both hind legs.

After "True Grit", "Dollor" was seen again in "The Undefeated", "Rio Lobo", "Chisholm" and "The Shootist". I believe the other horse, "Dollar", appeared in "The Cowboys", "The Train Robbers", "Big Jake", "Cahill, U.S. Marshall" and "Rooster Cogburn".

I have been informed that "Dollar" was given to Wayne's film company by a man named Fargo who lived around Bisbee, Arizona. The Wayne family asked him if wanted the horse back after John died. He declined. Dollar was sold at a horse auction in north-east Iowa for around $17,000. He died in the mid nineties of something called the wobbles.

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Horses of the silver screen

Hello to all.

Reply to Myarabian. I agree with you about those wonderful western programs on t.v. I'm lucky enough to get them on Direct TV. Rawhide, Rifleman, Have Gun..., Bonanza. Wonderful programs, even now. You might be thinking of Fury with the one about the boy and his horse. Let's all just keep loving those horses.....

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Horses of the Silver Screen

Reply to horsey55

I will love all horses till the day I die.......Wish I had a ranch with 50 or more to love & care for daily.....

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Movie Horses

Of course, as President of the Tex Ritter Fan Club for 34 years, my favorite is his beautiful White Flash, half Quarter Horse, half Arabian. Tex personally picked him out as a colt, raised and trained him and visited him frequently after retiring him to pasture.

There were also: Rex Allen's Coco, Gene Autry's Champion,

and many more from popular TV Westerns, i.e. Hopalong Cassidy's Topper, Cisco Kid's Diablo, etc.

Sharon Richards

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Silver screen horses

How about Champion (Gene Autrey) and Topper (Hopalong Cassidy)?

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SCOUT

No body has mentioned Tonto's horse Scout. He was my favorite becasuse I have a weekness for Pintos and Mustangs.

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Horses of the Movies and Misc. ramblings

Thanks for doing the article on cinema equines. However, the photo of Wm S Hart and Fritz is incorrect. Fritz was a tobiano paint...13 to 14 hands. The photo is from The Toll Gate, 1920. Bill rode Fritz at the beginning of the film. In this scene, he has misapropriated a horse. Perhaps in your next issue you can correct the oversight with a photo of Bill and Fritz.

Also, the article on the Best of the West California section excluded the Monterey Cowboy Festival. They just concluded their 12th annual. The show featured Ian Tyson, Randy Rieman, Dave Stamey, RW Hampton, Wylie & the Wild West, Juni Fisher, Joni Harms, Jesse Smith, Ernie Sites, Cowbop and many more. Some of the other events listed, fine as they are, do not have some same number and/or quality of the lineup. I'm sure it was just a slip of the pen.

Thanks for listening!

Gary E Brown

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Don't Forget

When speaking of movie equines, we must not forget the most intelligent equine of all, 'Francis, the Talking Mule'... In the many 'Francis' movies, Donald O'Connor would never have survived without Francis. Another example of the intellectual superiority of the mule......... :-)

Kansas Jack

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Equines

All kidding aside... I toured the museum at Fort Leavenworth last Spring. In a conversation with the curator about mules, he said that mules were used primarily to pull the wagons because they were stronger and more durable than horses in these jobs. I asked why you seldom see the Infantry mounted on mules. He replied that mules were too intelligent, and the mules wouldn't ride into a bunch of gun and cannon fire, but the horses would.

The mule was the preferred mount of some, though. Colonel Crook, later to become General Crook (of the Apache Wars) preferred a mule. Christopher Columbus also preferred a mule. In fact, the King of Spain once chastised Columbus for riding to court on a mule when he had some fine horses presented to him by the King. And King David's (from the bible) preferred mount was a mule.

George Washington, besides being considered 'The Father of our Country', was also considered the father of the mule in America. He would travel from Mt. Vernon with his famous mammoth Jack, 'Royal Gift' (so named 'cuz he was a gift to Washington from the King of Spain) breeding mares and making fine quality mules.

So, there's a bit of History for you.....

Kansas Jack

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Greatest Horses....

Hello, all.

I have to tip my hat to Kansas Jack regarding mules. Rode one in Arizona to the bottom of the Grand Canyon and back up and I sure would not have wanted to ride a horse on those trails, I don't care how good the horse is.

Kudos to the mules.

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"The Great HORSES"

There surely are a list of great horses and Tom has nailed five of them. Who could ever forget any of these horses we watched growing up as they showed westerns often on Saturdays. Although, to know these horses, one has to go way back to early films beginning with the silent screen. Cowboys who could whistle and their horse would come running. Horses that could untie knots to even talk. The silver-screen has has numerous horses that have drawn the audience to theaters.

"Tarzan" and Ken Maynard first started in silent films during the 1920's. Ken train his horse to respond to verbal commands but as sound came into the movies, Ken had to mumble jumbo to Tarzan, which was a palomino half Arab and half American Saddle horse that later was replaced in the 1940 filming with a white horse named Tarzan II.

Ken used several horses which were look a likes too in fear of the likely hood of injury to his well trained horse. This was the day of enjoying Cowboys and Indians at the Saturday matinee and many cowboys along with their horses became popular.

Another during that era Tom mentions is cowboy William S. Hart. I remember seeing a very old movie with his first horse, "MIDNIGHT." Oh, that was such a beautiful black horse. It may have even influence the love for other great horses such as the Television introductions of "My Friend Flicka" and "Fury." Both beautiful black horses, just like Midnight. However, Hart's horse, "Fritz" is best remembered for his scene crossing a canyon over a long fallen tree log in the movie "The Narrow Trail".

Although, Hart was innovative for his era of movies. He perform his own stunts sometimes being very dangerous. However, he likely is best remember for a scene in the movie "Singer Jim McKee" jumping his horse over a cliff falling and rolling to a gorge about 100 feet below. Hart used a dummy horse made to match his horse Fritz in ever manner including weighing 1,000 lbs. The scene appeared so real jumping his horse Fritz off the cliff. Fritz actually jumps over on a ledge just 12 feet below and the camera crew cuts while Hart mounts on the dummy horse held by a wire. The wire is cut after Hart is in the saddle and cameras rolling action that appeared so real, Hart had to prove he didn't kill a horse doing this stunt before the New York Board of Censors. Hart was a good horseman and his notes indicate his love of making western movies though film has so well improved since his hay day. You can watch him today at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xH2iB5UF3_I&feature=related

However, understanding horses from the movies, perhaps we need to see the 1937 movie "It Happened in Hollywood" featuring Richard Dix as the movie is about making western movies and of coarse the cowboy always getting his girl. Nine horses were viewed and it would be horse trainer Mr McCutcheon's horse "Dice" that would be selected. Dice, an attractive black & white pinto would also star with Gregory Peck and the lovely Jennifer Jones in "Duel in the Sun". Later the horse did "Arizona" and even Gene Autry once rode "Dice." McCutcheon continued to train Hollywood top horses in the motion picture industry for another 30 plus years.

Does anyone remember Mr. Ed the talking horse? Sure horses talk, just ask any horse whisper. Mister Ed, the palomino horse who could talk played by gelding "Bamboo Harvester" and voiced by Allan Lane. His famous line "Wilbur" was the TV hit during the early 1960's but then there was also a talking mule "Francis" that made several hit movies during the 1950's.

James Drury rode the cute appaloosa "Jody" on the Virginian TV Series then replaced with another horse called "Appy" or sometimes also called "Joe". Jim still visits many of the western sets and festivals. Perhaps one day we can get a clear cut of this appaloosa. Doug McClure had a find horse too named "Buck."

Can your remember "The Rifleman" Starring Chuck Conners as "Lucas McCain? Johnny Crawford played his son "Mark McCain" riding the pretty paint "Two Bits."

So many horses have come across the movie screens. How about one of the most impressive horse scenes every from the 1982 movie "Man from Snowy River" where Tom Burlinson portrays Australian Wrangler Jim Craig rides "Denny" successfully over a steep mountain side as they negotiate the treacherous descent. The movie is remarkable as the wrangler works to catch the bumbees (Australian wild horses) seen here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bMRMsnYyDxo as this scene is powerful and extreme much as the horse used in 2004 movie "Hildago" and the unbelievable tales of Frank Hopkins and his American Mustang.

Extreme and often Hollywoodish. However, there are also the real horses of everyday. Tammy Sronce, two time world Champion Cowboy Mounted Shooting rides "Handsome." Molly Rush rides with ACTHA and Extreme on her beautiful "KATIE BREEZIN' BY" wrote about in http://www.americancowboy.com/blogs/south-texas-cowboy/molly-rush-lawman... and who would not love the magnificent Budweiser Clydesdale's or the Lipizzan Stallions.

Horses have always been a powerful tool for man. They help conquer the world carrying man across to distant lands into the many battle fields. They moved logistic pulling carts and coaches. They worked the field of harvest, to modern advertising promotions. They even run free upon the majestic deserts of modern America. There is a silent word unsaid that speaks POWERFUL as one peers upon the horse. Pushed aside to modern technology to become pets of little girls threaten of extinction as man recklessly seeks conquest. Sure they still have their place on earth and not just in the movie screen. I love them all for what is a cowboy without his horse other than being a lonely ole soul.

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Favorite Horse???

My favorite Equine from the old Westerns is Ruth. Ruth was Festus Hagen's mule in the TV series 'Gunsmoke.' Played by Ken Curtis, Festus was also a really good Western singer who sang with the Sons of the Pioneers, and played the singing mailman in John Wayne's, "The Searchers." The strange thing about Ruth is that Ruth was a John mule.

Mules played a significant part in the opening of the West, and they don't get anywhere near the credit they deserve. My avitar is D-day Willie, one of my mules. His name D-day comes from his birthday, June 6.

Kansas Jack

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Mules, Too

There was also "Josephine" ridden in Tex Ritter movies by Arkansas Slim Andrews.

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Best Horses of the Silver Screen

How could you possibly leave out Gene Autry's horse "Champion"?

According to Gene, no other horse EVER beat him in a race!

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Horses of Silver Screen

Ooops. My mistake. Sorry, Champion. You're just as handsome.

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Favorite Horses

I grew up watching the Lone Ranger. My uncle had a horse that was white just like Silver and actually his name was Silver. My cousins and I used to ride and play like the Lone Ranger and Tonto, LOL... Does anyone remember the TV show called Fury? I think it came on Saturday mornings.

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Favorite Horses

I sure do remember Fury. I was about 5 when I first saw the program. Started riding the same year. Peter Graves was the ranch owner and Fury's owner's character's name was Joey. Don't remember the actor. Fury was on Saturday mornings.

Just a couple of trivia bits. Silver was named originally Silver Cloud. He was also the horse Thomas Mitchell's character, Gerald O'Hara (Scarlett's father) rode in Gone With the Wind.

Trigger was named Golden Cloud. He was also the horse Olivia deHavalind (spelling?) rode in the Adventures of Robin Hood with Errol Flynn.

Whenever I watch these two wonderful old movies again, I always smile at seeing those two horses. Small world.

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loved 'em all and still do

loved 'em all and still do

Ronni Lea Fox

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Horses of the past

I have to agree with Ronnifox, I still love them too & wish
one of these western channels on TV would do a tribute one weekend so we could all watch them again. I use to watch every Saturday Mornings Lone Ranger, Fury, My Friend Flicka, Sky King, & another one with a boy & horse but forgot the name of the show.
Also like the Virginian, Bonanza, Bronco, The Big Valley,
High Charpparel, Have Gun Will Travel, The Rifleman,
Roy Rogers, Rawhide, use to try to catch these too every chance I got.

myarabian1976

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