Trigger the Lives and Legend
of Roy Rogers’ Palomino

Beyond a great screen persona and the talent to match, what made Roy Rogers special was his proximity to a charismatic animal. Trigger was an equine reflection of his master and as much a star as leading ladies and sidekicks. While I eventually understood the whistles and bells behind the fantasy of a wonder horse, my affection for such a beautiful illusion has never wavered.

I rediscovered B-western movies in the 1970s. While they still nurtured me as they had when I was a boy, I saw them through the eyes of a grown man. The simple plots and one-dimensional characters were not fully credible as before; however, they had personality, the music was still great, the action sequences remained thrilling, and they still resonated with honesty and fair play. I had renewed admiration for what the humble B-western accomplished on the edges of the Hollywood mainstream, and the cowboy and horse connection was at their core.

My passion for Trigger, and for horses in general, represents an idealized view of life. As an adult, living in a world of terrorism, political scandals, corporate crime, built-in obsolescence, spin doctors, fast food, overt opulence, toxic narcissism, and a diminishing natural environment, it’s an uphill battle to be optimistic. Good doesn’t always triumph and sometimes crime pays. Trigger and Roy Rogers brought a sweet innocence that, unfortunately, cannot exist the same way any more.

I wrote a biography on Trigger for a number of reasons, though mostly out of fun and curiosity. Specifically, I proceeded out of the desire to organize his often intentionally confusing history; as an analysis of how the fantasy of “the Smartest Horse in the Movies” was realized; and as a celebration of talented individuals and animals. Trigger’s story is also very much about image and branding; about controlling a narrative; a bit of a cautionary tale; and, as such, not in the least bit anachronistic.

In spite of my age, the cynicism of the times, and the discoveries I made regarding Trigger, I cherish the fantasy of this special horse and will be forever grateful for having lived at a time when I could believe it. —Leo Pando, 2019

Opinions expressed on this site are those of Leo Pando. Graphics and characters are copyright by their respective companies. Editorial material copyright by their respective authors. No part of this site may be reproduced in any manner whatsoever without the written permission of Leo Pando, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in reviews and articles. All rights reserved.

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  5. Joyce Rosemore

    Just wanna say that you have a very nice web site. I like the layout too, it actually stands out.

  6. Peggy Raulerson

    Great book about a great horse. I have been trying to get somebody to look into the life of a true horse screen legend. His name was Steele and he was ridden by almost all of the great western heroes of the 50s and the 60s. He was a beautiful sorrel with a long forelock and a pitchfork brand on his hip.I would love to have a writer of your caliber be willing to look into this largely forgotten “hero” of western movies. thank you for your attention. Peggy

    • Leo Pando

      Peggy, Sorry it’s taken so long to reply. The site had issues that took a while to clear up. Yes Steel was a magnificent animal and worth of a book but I doubt I could find a publisher interested. Petrine Mitchum’s book HOLLYWOOD HOOFBEATS has a second on Steel.

  7. Eva Radford

    Leo, you have written a comprehensive and moving book about a legendary horse. It’s also a look at the America of our childhoods, when Roy and Trigger(s) and other B-western heroes were in their prime. You have done a great service to the genre and to the cowboys and their magical beasts. Well done on all counts.

  8. Priscilla Marquez

    Love it! This book is one for the ages.

  9. Roy Dillow

    The Most definitive book ever written of Roy Rogers Palomino TRIGGER. A Must Read for All Trigger and Roy Rogers Fans

  10. Gerry Boyle

    Leo’s love of the subject comes through on every page. For anyone who shares his love of Trigger, B-westerns, and horses, this is a must read.

  11. Ginny Walker

    I love the website and enjoyed your narrative. Thank you for sharing.\

  12. John newcomb

    Great read. Tells all about this glorious animal. His history, movies, tv shows the other horses Roy And Dale owned.

  13. Edmund Marquez

    Great web site, and amazing catalog of work you have created!

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