One of the world’s most famous horses is to go under the hammer at Christie’s, with a pre-auction estimate of $US100,000 to $US200,000.
Trigger, who rose to fame with entertainer Roy Rogers, is to be sold in a dispersal of the collection by the now-closed Roy Rogers – Dale Evans Museum.
The Missouri museum has operated for 42 years, but closed its doors on December 12 last year.
Rogers and Trigger were household names in the United States during their heyday in the 1950s.
Rogers and his cowgirl wife of 51 years, Dale Evans, hosted a highly successful TV show in the US from 1951 to 1957.
The sale, set down for Manhattan on July 14-15, is being marketed as the definitive and final sale of the most important and iconic pieces from the museum.
Trigger is lot 38 among more than 300 items of Roy Rogers memorabilia.
Trigger was born on July 4, 1934, on a small ranch co-owned by Bing Crosby and was originally named Golden Cloud.
On March 25, 1937, Golden Cloud, standing 15 hands high and registered with the Palomino Horse Association, was sold to an agency which provided movie horses.
One of his first performances was in the 1938 movie ‘The Adventures of Robin Hood’, where he ridden sidesaddle by Maid Marion (Olivia de Havilland).
That same year, Rogers selected him as his mount, paying $US2500 on a time-payment plan.
He said of his horse, who was renamed Trigger: “He would turn on a dime and he’d give you 9 cents change.”
Rogers never used his reins, whip or spurs on Trigger, who would respond to touch and hand movements.
Trigger accompanied Roy on his 1938 personal appearance tour, stopping in almost every major city in the US over a three-month period.
His career blossomed, and he became known as “The Smartest Horse in the Movies”, performing some 100 recognisable tricks, including counting, doing the hula, untying ropes, shooting a gun, knocking on doors and walking on his back legs.
He was later outfitted with an exquisite Edward H. Bohlin gold and silver saddle, which is also for sale in the auction.
Trigger appeared in all of Roy Rogers’ 188 movies, as well as the Roy Rogers Show on NBC from 1951 to 1957, garnering his very own fan club.
Together, they performed all over the country during World War 2, raising millions in the sale of bonds to aid the war effort.
Trigger died one day short of his 31st birthday, on July 3, 1965, at the Rogers’ ranch in Hidden Valley, California.
Reluctant to bury him, Rogers, having been impressed by the animals on display at the Smithsonian Museum, opted to have him mounted in his iconic rearing position.
He then went on display at the Roy Rogers – Dale Evans Museum, then in Victorville, California.
The Edward H. Bohlin gold and silver saddle worn by Trigger is estimated to fetch between $US100,000 and $US150,000 at the sale.
The sale is being run by Christie’s New York in association with High Noon Western Americana.
Proceeds from the sale will be used to meet the museum’s fiscal obligations, Christies said.
The auction house said the Rogers family, which had made the decision to close the museum, tried to sell Trigger and several other key items to a museum, but the tough economic climate meant buyers could not be found.
Although the museum is closed, his son, Roy Rogers Junior, and his company, Golden Stallion, will continue with its Roy Rogers tribute show.
Roy Rogers Junior, in announcing the closure last year, said: “It has been a wonderful ride.
“The decision to close the museum has come after two years of steady decline in visitors to the museum.
“This situation is one I have not wanted to happen. Dad always said, ‘If the museum starts costing you money, then liquidate everything and move on’.
“Remember, Roy Rogers and Dale Evans will live forever in our hearts and minds, and will continue to ride across the silver screen through their movies.”