Sunday, June 4, 2023



Years ago, I heard a fantastic urban legend.  It went that Roy Rogers, Hollywood's famed crooning cowboy and restaurant pioneer, had his four-legged co-star Trigger taxidermied upon his death.  It was too fantastic to believe, but a true story nonetheless.  I recently discovered the famed steed's location and knew this was a story I had to cover.

Trigger was born in San Diego, California, on July 4, 1934.  His foal name was "Golden Cloud."  When he was just three years old, he was sold to Hudkins Stables in Hollywood, which rented horses to the film industry. 

His first major motion picture was 1938's The Adventures of Robin Hood, in which he was ridden by screen legend Olivia de Haviland.  That same year, he was first teamed with Roy Rogers on the set of Under Western Stars, and the two became inseparable.

"He could turn on a dime and give you some change," Rogers famously recalled. He had been so impressed with the horse's ability to respond quickly to whatever he was asked to do.  

Rogers would acquire Golden Cloud for $2,500, later renaming him Trigger.  Longtime Rogers' sidekick Smiley Burnette first suggested the name, after noticing "how quick on the trigger" the horse really was.  Over the next two decades, Rogers and Trigger would appear in more than 80 films together as well as 101 episodes of The Roy Rogers Show.

Trigger passed away on July 3, 1965, one day shy of his 31st birthday.  Rogers hired what is today known as Bischoff's Taxidermy and Animal FX in Burbank to preserve his beloved co-star.  The hide was professionally stretched over a foam likeness of the horse and the result was put on display at the Roy Rogers-Dale Evans Museum in Victorville, California. 

The museum closed in 2010 and its contents, including Trigger, were sold by famed Christie's Auction House.  His selling price was $266,500. 

For several years, his whereabouts remained a mystery, but he recently surfaced at the John Wayne: An American Experience exhibit in Fort Worth, Texas.  That's where this blogger caught up with him.  Although he isn't for sale, you'll find him in the gift shop.

Rest in peace, Trigger.


  • Followers of this blog will recall that this is the second stage horse this blogger has paid his respects to, the first one being Mister Ed, of course.  To read about that trip and how it got this blogger on the news, click here.

  • Believe it or not, there is a Trigger biography.  You can pick up a copy of author Leo Pando's Trigger: The Lives and Legend of Roy Rogers' Palomino, from Amazon.

  • Trigger was often portrayed by other palominos throughout his career.

  • Friend to this blog Mark Miller believes that the astroturf in the Trigger display conceals a pair of slats connected to the star's rear hooves.  This blogger agrees.

  • After Trigger was taxidermied in 1965, an investigation revealed that the horse meat was illegally sold to several small eateries in the Southwest, in violation of the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act of 1954.  Unwitting diners had no idea they were gobbling up a star of the silver screen.  The butcher who sold the meat was sentenced to five years in prison.

  • Roy Rogers taxidermied his canine co-star as well, forever memorializing Bullet the Wonder Dog.  He too is on display at the John Wayne exhibit in Fort Worth.

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