Roy Rogers’ Horse Trigger Sells for $266,500 at Auction

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Roy Rogers' TriggerAnyone who grew up in the 1940s and 50s is familiar with Roy Rogers and his golden Palomino, Trigger. Known as “The Smartest Horse in the Movies,” Trigger had a massive repertoire of tricks, including untying ropes, walking on his hind legs, knocking on doors and firing a gun.

Trigger’s breeding is uncertain. His sire is said to be a Thoroughbred, but there are different reports on his dam’s background. Some sources claim she was a Tennessee Walking Horse, but others say she was a grade horse. Despite his lack of a shining pedigree, Trigger (known as Golden Cloud prior to his partnership with Rogers) proved that he was a gifted performer early on. His first movie role was as Maid Marian’s mount in a 1938 version of “The Adventures of Robin Hood.”

Later in 1938, Roy Rogers met Trigger while searching for a horse to star in “Under Western Stars.” It only took one ride for Rogers to decide that Trigger was the right horse for the job, and their lifelong partnership began. Trigger appeared in all 188 Roy Rogers films, the Roy Rogers Show on NBC from 1951-1957, and even made live appearances with Rogers to meet his fans in person. Trigger was retired in 1957.

After Trigger’s death at age 30 in 1965, Rogers had his body preserved forever in a rearing position by a taxidermist. When the Roy Rogers-Dale Evans Museum opened in 1967, Trigger was included in the exhibits. The museum was initially located in Apple Valley, California, but relocated several times, ultimately landing in Branson, Missouri.

In December 2009, the Roy Rogers-Dale Evans museum closed its doors forever, and the artifacts and memorabilia in the museum’s collection, including Trigger, were sent to auction at Christie’s in New York. Christie’s anticipated that Trigger would be a top seller, but he exceeded their estimate of $100,000-$200,000 by fetching a winning bid of $266,500. The top bidder was the cable and satellite network RFD-TV, which specializes in programming related to rural life. CFO Steve Campione told the Associated Press that the network intends to start its own Roy Rogers museum.

In addition to Trigger, Christie’s is auctioning Dale Evans’ buckskin Quarter Horse Buttermilk, the German Shepherd “wonder dog” Bullet, and Trigger Jr., a palomino Tennessee Walking Horse who helped lighten the original Trigger’s workload in his later years.

15 COMMENTS

  1. Glad to hear of another museum. I was dissapointed to hear of the old one closing when I had never even known it was there.

  2. Were so happy that Trigger went to RFD TV, We watch it all the time. At least he’s got a home that will last forever.
    Shame on the Rogers estate. Roy is probably rolling over to think Trigger was sold!

  3. I am also very happy that RFD-TV got Trigger! The whole crew of Roy, Dale, Bullet, & Trigger will always be in our hearts. But Trigger will be beloved forever. Who didn’t, as a child, dream of having a horse like Trigger?

  4. Thank you RFD-TV. You are a 1st class operation and I know that you will take care of everyone’s dream horse. Now, if possible, get the rest of them.

  5. That’s a lot of money, but Trigger was worth it. I wonder what they are going to do with him? I find it slightly creepy tho that they stuffed him….

  6. I rember I got into Roy Roger and Tigger when i got my horse who was a Palmoin name Tigger and looked alot like him. He pasteed away 5yrs ago.

  7. Isn’t the reason Trigger was for sell was because the Roy Rogers museum was closing. If they really wanted to open a Roy Rogers museum why didn’t they buy everything else. Sounds like a lame publicity attempt….

  8. With the economic struggles we are all facing and so many folks loosing the farm, barely able to make ends meet, this is a slap in the face to the viewers. We expect better. Spending over $200,000.00 for a horse you can’t even ride is ridiculous.

  9. I just wish everything could have been kept together. The museum in Branson was wonderful. There was so much interesting stuff from the old Westerns and the starsl

  10. I see nothing wrong with spending this much money. I couldn’t afford it but obviously someone can. What legacy Trigger has given his fans. Wonder horse indeed.
    Thanks for including video.

  11. I wonder if the horse ever left the building before Christie’s received their money. If not, they will likely never see the cash from RFD…it’s how they roll.

  12. I liked the article. Trigger and Roy, Dale, Buttermilk and Bullet were great. I’m happy RFD has plans and that they acquired both Trigger and Bullet. I happen to like that network…alot Value and Price? It’s only what somebody can is willing to pay.

  13. I have searched and searched but can not find out if a museum was indeed established for the Roy Rogers memorabilia or not I saw Trigger as a child and wanted to show my grandson but now it gone and help you can help shed some light on this!

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