These are the stories behind the favorite TV and movie horses of yester-year.
With nearly as much star power as his owner, Roy Rogers, Trigger was arguably the most famous horse in show business. The palomino was originally named Golden Cloud, but his name was changed because he was “quick on the trigger.” He boasted an impressive repertoire of more than 100 tricks. During his 20-year career, Trigger appeared in at least 80 feature films and 100 television episodes. He even had his own comic book series.
All along the sagebrush trail, the Lone Ranger and his great white stallion Silver righted injustices and rid the West of evildoers. Their bond is explained in the 1938 episode, “The Legend of Silver”: Deep in Wild Horse Canyon, the Lone Ranger comes across a horse battling an enraged buffalo. The masked man saves the horse’s life and, in gratitude, Silver remains forever loyal to his savior. Hi-yo, Silver! Away!
The iconic sorrel with a wide blaze made his movie debut in one of John Wayne’s most memorable scenes: He’s the horse carrying Rooster Cogburn during his famous charge—reins in his teeth and guns blazing—in True Grit (1969).
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Dollor (yes, that is the correct spelling) appeared in many of Wayne’s subsequent Westerns. The Duke regarded him so highly that he changed the script of The Shootist (1976) so that he could mention the horse, by name, several times. Although Wayne never owned Dollor, his contract with the owner stipulated that no one else could ride the horse. The request was honored for the rest of Dollor’s life.
The TV comedy (1961–1966) chronicled the misadventures of accident-prone Wilbur Post and his loquacious horse, Mister Ed—whom only Post could hear. In reality, the talking equine protagonist (voiced by Western actor Allan Lane) was a palomino Saddlebred-cross named Bamboo Harvester. The gelding got his start in show business under the tutelage of trainer Lester Hilton, a protégé of Will Rogers. While popular theory maintains that Bamboo Harvester was made to “talk” through liberal use of peanut butter, those involved with the show have never confirmed that speculation.
Horses of Bonanza
The horses of the Ponderosa are the underappreciated stars of the television series (1959–1973). Can you name all the equine mounts of the Cartwright clan? Ben rode Buck, a buckskin; Little Joe rode Cochise, a Paint; Hoss rode Chub, a dark bay; and Adam rode Sport, a sorrel.
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