As one gets into the storyline of a well known western TV show do you wonder who the horses might be? Who rode Joe D, Buck, or Razor? These and many other horses were kind of in the background. They were almost just a prop. Or were they? I’d like to think not. The horses were hard-working actors just like their riders. They were well cared for and loved by their cowboy counterpart. They formed a partnership within the story frame and sometimes outside the picture.
Since I mention Joe D first, I’ll start off with the appaloosa that carried the Virginian, played by James Drury through many episodes in the television series The Virginian. The most updated information I could find on this beautiful Appy was that he was called Joe D. and it seems James Drury would call him Jody. Kind of confusing. Apparently, the main horse The Virginian rode was Jody and the horse who doubled for Jody was Joe. Hmm. Whatever the case, the horse was a beauty and knew his job and did it well.
The buckskin that carried Trampas in the same show, The Virginian, rode the horse named Buck. There were actually four different Buck’s used in the long-running show. Both Doug McClure, who played Trampas and James Drury grew up with horses and knew how to ride and handle a horse before the show aired. This experience made for a lot of realism.
Another horse with the same name, Buck, carried Ben Cartwright of the Ponderosa in Bonanza. The hard-riding cowboys in Bonanza were mainly Adam, Hoss, and Little Joe. Hoss was a big guy and his horse had to be up to the job. Chub was the one chosen for Dan Blocker as Hoss to ride. Adam, who was played by Pernell Roberts rode a pretty horse called Sport. Little Joe had the flashy black and white pinto with the name Cochise. There were actually thirteen different horses that played the part of the horse Cochise. There were pinto’s who played the rougher scenes while others played the parts of a quieter riding scene.
Michael Landon who portrayed Little Joe personally chose his horse. He named him Cochise. The first pinto was murdered one night in his stable along with some others for unknown reasons. The killer was never found. What a sad awful time. Several horses were involved in the incident. Some were saved and others, like Cochise didn’t make it.
Ben’s horse Buck was a buckskin colored horse and was 12 years old at the time. After the show ended Lorne Green, who played Ben bought Buck and then donated him to a therapeutic riding facility. The kids there loved Buck. He lived out the rest of his life bringing joy to many mentally and physically handicapped kids.
Dan Blocker who played Hoss needed a big horse. He was given Chub who was a sizable horse at 15.3 hands and weighing in at 1,250 pounds. He was half quarter horse and half thoroughbred. His dark color showed off the white blaze down his face.
Pernell Roberts playing Adam Cartwright, the eldest of the brothers rode Sport. This horse was a chestnut color with white socks on three of his legs. Sport had 7/8 thoroughbred in him.
Marshall Dillon of Gunsmoke rode a buckskin horse named Buck. Must have been a popular name for buckskin colored horses in that day. It’s been said that it’s not for sure if this horse was called Buck. Festus, who was Matt’s sidekick called the horse Buck. Also in an interview, James Arness, who portrayed Matt Dillon said the horse went by the name of Buck.
In reading about the horses in the show, Matt Dillon apparently had a herd of horses he rode. Another one was named Marshall.
I happen to think the name Razor is a clever name for a horse, it’s different. Lucas McCain the Rifleman portrayed by Chuck Connors galloped over his range on the big horse with that name. He was sixteen hands, so a pretty good size horse.
Lucas had a son, Mark who rode a horse named Blueboy, who’s real name was Bosco. Mark, who was played by Johnny Crawford has said that he felt small beside Chuck Connors and Razor.
Brandy was a big horse who had a large cowboy to carry through the rough terrain of the open country they traveled through. He was up to the job and he and Clint Walker as Cheyenne roamed the hills helping out where they could.
Clint has said he couldn’t have had a better horse to ride then Brandy. They got along great. Brandy was a quarter horse and at sixteen hands was a big horse that carried a big cowboy.
Robert Horton of Wagon Train fame rode the horse Stormy Night. Robert Horton portrayed the real-life person Flint McCullough, a scout for the wagon train. He actually owned his horse Stormy Night, an Appaloosa he bought on a windy, raining night, thus the name. The Appy had my favorite markings for an Appaloosa, the dark coloring than the white blanket and dark spots on the rear of the horse.
Annie Oakley, the TV Series
I’d like to include a cowgirl in this list of old western television series. Actress Gail Davis portrayed sharpshooter Annie Oakley in the TV serial from 1954 to 1957. She rode a pretty Palimino who had a white blaze down his nose. His name was Target. Sure sounds like an appropriate name for a sharpshooter to me.
Thank you for stopping by my hitching post. Please leave a comment or ask a question and I’ll do my best to answer. What famous TV horses do you remember? Let me know.
Images courtesy of Pixabay.
A note: None of the pictures are of the actual horse talked about.