Animals in many forms have become famous for their acting as well as the human actor. The horse actor is no exception. When those horses raced across the screen it was quite thrilling to watch. I’d loose my breath as they made those quick turns around rocks and through the trees and brush chasing the outlaws.
Who do you think of first when the subject comes up? Probably Trigger, Roy Rogers golden Palomino that galloped over the range for Roy as he saved the west from many a bad man.
Trigger 1,2, and 3
Yes, there were three Triggers, an interesting fact that surprised me. The first Trigger was dubbed the “smartest horse in Hollywood” (10 Most Famous Movie Horses by Jackie Barlow) He carried Roy and others through some 80 films. Before Roy purchased the horse, Olivia De Haviland rode the golden horse when she played Maid Marion in the Adventures of Robin Hood in 1938.
The other two Triggers were well trained horses and did tricks and carried the Trigger legend to the end. Two of them were mounted, preserved for later generations to see the great horse.
Along side Roy Rogers, pretty Dale Evans rode the just as pretty Buttermilk. I didn’t know, but before Buttermilk belonged to Dale, he had been abused and was on his way to the slaughterhouse. His story proves that even when a horse is mistreated, with the right kind of treatment and training and above all, love, a horse can become a good horse as did Buttermilk.
It’s amazing when researching horses you’ve grown up knowing about and watching them every week on TV. I never thought there were two or more horses that played a role, but just as there are doubles for famous actors there are at times more then one horses used for a show.
Silver 1 and 2
As in the case of there being three Triggers, there were two Silver’s, the horse that carried the Lone Ranger through many adventures. One of the Silver’s was an easygoing guy used for scenes where Lone Ranger needed a quiet horse. The other Silver had a more fiery personality and Clayton Moore, who played Lone Ranger used this one to go on tours and other events to show off in public.
Champion times 3
The singer/actor Gene Autry had three horses all named Champion. These horses performed a lot of tricks throughout their careers. They even danced such dances as hula and the Charleston. I don’t recall seeing any of these spectacles, but wished I would have. I would like to see a horse dance.
A beautiful white Arabian stallion named Topper was rode by Hopalong Cassidy, another old west cowboy television icon.
There were two Topper’s also, for a short time. The first one was known as King Nappy and the second Topper was his double in the show. When King Nappy was hurt, the stand in, Topper two took over the role for the rest of the series.
The horse that played Fury had quite an acting career. His real name was Highland Dale. As Fury, his boy Joey was the only one who could ride him. They had adventures on the Broken Wheel Ranch with his dad Jim and ranch hand Pete.
Not only did Highland Dale portray Fury, he also played the part of Black Beauty in one movie. He was the black horse that Elizabeth Montgomery rode in the movie Giant. Other roles he showed off his acting ability in were Gypsy Colt and Wild is the Wind.
Mr. Ed, probably one of my most favorites was the beloved talking horse who only talked to his owner, Wilbur. His name in real life was Bamboo Harvester.
There are different stories of how they got Ed to look like he was talking, but which one do you believe? Some say it was peanut butter on the upper lip. Others say it was a nylon thread in his mouth. Further speculation state that Ed was so smart he learned to move his mouth on cue from the trainer when his hoof was touched. I like this story best because that is how a horse learns, is by cues. Guess it doesn’t really matter much how it was done, it’s still a fun show to watch.
Mary O’Hara wrote the book My Friend Flicka. The name is Swedish for little girl. This little mare was the star of the book as well as a movie in which Roddy McDowell played the young boy who loved her.
My Friend Flicka was a television series in 1955 to 1958. The young boy star was Johnny Washbrook. The horse who played Flicka was Wahana, but from the beginning she was always known as Flicka.
The Black Stallion
The Black Stallion became a series of books written by Walter Farley. I read those books over and over. I thrilled when the movies came out, but somehow they weren’t as good as the books as sometimes happens.
Cass Ole was the horse who portrayed the Black. The boy Alec befriended him and the story goes on from there.
This horse was a fiction work by Anna Sewell who wanted to show the cruelty of horses in that day and time. I enjoyed reading the book. I did a lot of crying over the hardships these magnificent animals endured for the sake of the human. Being told from the horse’s point of view brought it all closer to the heart. This was a different way of writing and in my opinion was effective.
In a later movie of Black Beauty, the horse that played that role was Docs Keepin Time.
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All images courtesy of Pixabay.com