Copyright ©1999-2009 Roy Rogers. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part in any
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and RogersDale U.S.A. logo are trademarks of Roy Rogers.
The Happy Trails Children's Foundation is a nonprofit/public benefit corporation, and it is
organized under the nonprofit public benefit corporation law
for charitable purposes. All donations are fully tax deductible! The tax exempt status for the
foundation (a 501c(3)) California public benefit corporation.
The employer tax identification number for this foundation is 95-3872257.
By Joel “Dutch” Dortch
Roy owned and used a number of saddles throughout his career.
In the early years of his career, he primarily used two different saddles
that he borrowed or rented. One was a typical stock saddle of the era,
used most often with a fleece covered breast strap. The other was a nice
Bohlin silver mounted saddle with round skirts and a matching martingale
and bridle, with leather covered stirrups adorned on the side with silver
In 1942 he purchased his signature silver mounted saddle from
Edward Bohlin, celebrated Saddlemaker to the Stars. In the Bohlin
catalog of that era it is identified as the Dick Dickson, Jr. model. This
unique saddle had silver triangle and diamond shaped decorations with a
matching breast collar, bridle, and tapaderos. Roy used this saddle in
most of his films from 1942 on and in the 100 episodes of the TV series.
It is the saddle shown on Trigger in the photo. This saddle sold in the
Christies auction on July 14-15, for $386,500.00 and was the highest
selling item in the auction.
In the mid 1970’s, Roy ordered a new Bohlin saddle to put up on
Trigger in the museum. This saddle was somewhat similar to his
signature saddle but the fans objected and wanted to see the actual
original saddle on the mounted rearing horse. Roy switched saddles and
the new one was put on display for many years in the saddle room of the
museum. This saddle sold in the High Noon auction in Mesa, AZ in
January 2010 for $103,000.00. In addition, Roy owned an attractive silver
saddle with round skirts that Bohlin made for Mrs. Buck Jones, wife of old-
time cowboy star, Buck Jones. This saddle sold at a High Noon auction
several years ago and is now on display in the National Cowgirl Hall of
Fame and Museum in Ft. Worth, TX.
In the late 1940’s, Roy ordered another Bohlin silver mounted
saddle. This saddle was used in a few of his last feature films and some
variety TV shows, parades and personal appearances. This is my
personal favorite Bohlin saddle and was displayed in the museum on
Trigger, Jr. This saddle sold in the Christies auction for $242,500.00.
Around 1950, Roy purchased the Music Saddle, one of the most
elaborate silver mounted saddles of all-time, for the record price of
$50,000.00. This saddle was made in the early 1930’s for a lady named
Mrs. Music. The original cost with all the matching accouterments was
$20,000.00. It took 16 craftsmen six months to build this saddle. It was
reportedly adorned with 1,400 ounces of silver, 136 ounces of gold and
hundreds of rubies. Mrs. Music was a very small lady and this saddle had
a very small seat. She used this saddle for several years in the annual
Pasadena Rose Parade.
By 1950, Roy was huge in the merchandising business with his
name on hundreds of products including toy guns and other toys,
household items, comic books, clothes and too many items to list here.
Many department stores had Roy Rogers departments, including Sears.
This saddle was shipped in a special display case from store to store all
over the country and put on display for a limited time in the Roy Rogers
departments. The saddle was delivered to the stores in an armored truck
and armed guards stood watch over it. This saddle generated a lot of
publicity and drew throngs of parents and their children to the stores. It
was a brilliant marketing gimmick that worked.
There are no known photos of Roy riding on this saddle, probably
because of the small seat and only one known photo of it on one of Roy’s
palomino horses. This gorgeous saddle and all the related accouterments
sold in the High Noon auction a few years ago for $412,000.00.
During World War II, scientists made great advancements in the
use of plastics. An enterprising man from Nebraska opened a saddle
company that eventually located in Lusk, WY, to make colorful saddles out
of plastic. These saddles attracted Roy’s attention and he owned at least
5 to 7 of them. He liked them so much that he became a spokesman for
the company. He used these saddles primarily in public appearances
throughout the 1950’s and 1960’s, although one does show up in the mud
scene of the feature film, Son of Paleface, with Roy, Bob Hope and Jane
Russell. If you got mud on it, you could hose it off!
The company was short lived and only made 60 or so of the
plastic saddles before going out of business. Three of Roy’s plastic
saddles sold in the Christies auction. A red one that was on Buttermilk in
the museum sold for $104,500.00 and Roy’s well-used favorite red, white
and blue plastic saddle with eagles sold for $50,000.00. A blue one also
sold in the auction. The plastic Rose Parade saddle that was on display
in the museum for many years sold in the High Noon auction in January
2010 for $75,000.00.
All photos courtesy of the author’s collection.
All documents courtesy of Roy Rogers, Jr.
About the author: Joel “Dutch” Dortch is Executive Director of the Happy
Trails Children’s Foundation. Dortch has been a life-long fan of Roy
Rogers, Dale Evans, and Trigger, ever since he saw the Roy Rogers
Show, live and in person, on the stage of the War Memorial Auditorium in
December 1950, in his home town of Birmingham, AL when he was eight
years old. From 1998 through 2007, he produced the annual Roy Rogers
and Dale Evans Western Film Festival, in the Victorville/Apple Valley
area of Southern California, a fund raiser for the Happy Trails Children’s
Foundation. A life-long horseman, with an abiding interest in the story of
Trigger and all of Roy’s horses, Dortch enjoys horses, Western movies,
the sport of Cowboy Action Shooting and the Western lifestyle.
Roy Rogers and Dale Evans played a major role in helping to
establish the Happy Trails Children’s Foundation. The foundation built
the Cooper Home in Apple Valley, CA to provide a safe haven for
children in crisis, who have been severely abused, abandoned or
neglected. The foundation is proud to carry on the important work with
abused children who were so important to Roy and Dale. The Happy
Trails Children's Foundation is a non-profit, tax-exempt charitable
organization under the Internal Revenue Code, Section 501 (C) (3). All
donations are fully tax exempt to the extent allowed by law.