Was it possible for a horse that had once been the victim of severe abuse, had as a result acquired a nasty and mean disposition, and was in the process of being shipped off to slaughter, to be rescued at the last moment, given a new lease on life and live to become one of the most beloved and well-known equine stars?
The horse that came to be named Buttermilk did in fact beat those incredible odds.
Dale Evans, the future wife of cowboy star Roy Rogers, began working along side of Roy on his TV series and films as a co-star. Roy had his famous horse Trigger, so it soon became clear that Dale would need a steed of her own. She had actually never ridden before, despite having come from Texas. She would need to learn, and learn quickly. It wasn’t long though, that she got the hang of being in the saddle.
The studio began supplying an assortment of horses for her, but it wasn’t long before it was noticed that most of them looked a bit too much like Trigger. They wanted a horse of a different color, so to speak- something that stood out and was different.
A certain light buckskin Quarter Horse gelding fit the bill just perfectly. The horse, who had once been named Soda and by this time had the name Taffy, had been purchased by Glenn Randall, a respected animal trainer for Hollywood. The once dangerous animal had been carefully worked with and trained, allowed to blossom, and now had a very sweet and gentle personality.
Evans soon fell in love with the gelding, now re-named Buttermilk (after a song that Evans’ recalled) and was used in the majority of the Roy Rogers Show that aired on television over a six year period, as well as movies that featured the duo.
There was actually one point of contention between Roy and Buttermilk. The gelding, being a Quarter Horse- a breed developed for short distance races- was fast. Too fast. He often would beat Trigger during scene shoots; and since Roy and Trigger were the main stars, this would never do! So Roy actually had to ask Dale to keep the horse under control, and always allow Trigger to take the lead.
The gelding the world knew as Buttermilk was foaled in 1941, and died in 1972. Dale Evans’ beloved steed was then carefully stuffed and mounted, as was his co-star Trigger,and placed on display in the Roy Rogers Museum, where he remains today, always ready to ride off into the sunset.