Who Rode Joe D? And Other Famous Horses

Joe D image

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.

The Virginian

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.

The Rifleman

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.

IMG_0288 joe d look a like


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.

Wagon Train

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:ย  None of the pictures are of the actual horse talked about.

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26 thoughts on “Who Rode Joe D? And Other Famous Horses

  1. Hi. One fact not mentioned here is one of the buckskins used on โ€œGunsmokeโ€ was called Dallas. We boarded him on our ranch one summer when I was growing up. There is a newspaper article to support this. Dallas had such a wide back that none of our saddles fit him very well. He was a nice horse and we showed him off at a local rodeo while we had him.

    1. Hi Jennifer,
      What a wonderful piece of information. I did not know about Dallas. Did Matt Dillion ride him? It must have been fun having horses boarded at your place that was used in television shows. I would have been in seventh heaven for sure. Thank you so much for stopping by and leaving a comment.

  2. Hi Judy – Thank you for this article! Seeing that you love The Virginian, as I do, I thought I would ask: My favorite character from the show is Clu Gulager’s Emmet Ryker, and I think his horse is absolutely gorgeous. Would you happen to know anything about it, and also if it’s the same horse he rides as Billy the Kid in The Tall Man? Thanks ahead of time for any information ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. Hi Sarah,
      Thank you for stopping by and leaving a comment. I have been on a search here for the name of Ryker’s horse and can’t find anything yet. I have left a question with True West mag. in hopes that they will give me an answer. Thanks for asking. I would like to know as well. He is a beautiful horse. I too liked Ryker in the Virginian. Did you see him as the deaf-mute with Steve? (Before his Ryker days) That was a heartwarming episode.

      I don’t remember watching the Tall Man. I had to go to YouTube and watch an episode. I enjoyed it and seeing other actors I knew such as Barry Sullivan and Denver Pyle. How fun. Love to explore this kind of stuff. To me, it looks as if Clu is riding the same horse in Tall Man as he rode in the Virginian.

      I will update here as soon as I find new info. Thank you again for reading my post and visiting my site. Much appreciated.

      As promised I am updating this question. True West didn’t have any information for me so not sure where else to look. If anyone reading this has the answer please share. Thank you so much.

  3. Dale Robertson, of Tales of Wells Fargo, was another “real” cowboy. He’s from OK and was around horses a lot. At one time he actually bred them. The horse he used on the show was one of his own, named Jubilee.

    1. Hi Linda,
      Thanks so much for stopping by and leaving a comment. I remember Dale Robertson and liked him a lot. I always thought he was a real cowboy, it’s nice to have that confirmed. I did not know he bred horses and did not know he used his own horse Jubilee on his show. So here’s to new information to add to my knowledge of cowboys and their horses. Thank you so much. I think I may do an update on this post. If you have any other information about cowboys and their horses please let me know. ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. Could you please tell me the name of the chestnut horse with a white blaze and red spot in it. Also if you knew how many movies he was in.a lot of the guests on gunsmoke rode him. Thank you

    1. Hi Lauren,
      Thank you for stopping by and reading my blog. I have been searching for an answer to your question and I’m stumped. I watch a lot of Gunsmoke episodes and I will be on the lookout for this horse. I found one site Stravaganza by Leopoldo Costa. The website is at https://stravaganzastravaganza.blogspot.com I was in hope this horse may show up on the list, but not sure. Anyway, it has a nice list of movie horses. I’ll keep looking and again thanks for the question and taking the time to read my post. ๐Ÿ™‚

      Hey Lauren, If you stop by here again I have found who rode this horse, but not his name. Chester, played by Dennis Weaver rode him in Gunsmoke. This horse galloped into The Big Valley in the episode titled the Young Marauders. Sean Garrison rode him. I saw him in a Bonanza episode called The Trail Gang. Richard Davalos was the cowboy riding him. I wish I could find out his name. He’s a very pretty and well put together horse.

  5. Tonto”s pinto was named Scout. Names are so important and often reflect their personality. I’ve owned Liberty, Glory, Dreamer, Nugget,Sarge and many more. All beautiful friends.

    1. Hi Karen,
      Scout was a beautiful horse too. I agree, names are important and shows personality. I like the names of your horses. My list is Blackie (he was all black), Sandy because she was a sandy color, Dandy came with that name as did Chief. Poppy was Popper when I bought her, but her personality showed more as Poppy. I had a horse named Trampas because I liked the character Trampas in the Virginian TV series. Come to think of it she (yes she was a mare) was a fun loving horse and hard to handle and liked going her own way.
      Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

  6. Buck, the aptly named Buckskin for the close ups and important scenes was THE SAME HORSE for BOTH GUNSMOKE AND BONANZA! I’ve read many Hollywood horse sites and this is confirmed on more than 3. Lorne Greene buying his horse and donating to kids may be true, but Gunsmoke was a 20 year series and stunt horses WERE EXPENSIVE. Plus Lorne did complain everytime he had to ride, so I don’t believe he loved Buck enough to buy him. Two of the most famous horse stars(AT $5,000 a day!) Highland Dale, a beautiful black with two white socks and a star they dyed black as needed, who appeared more than 20 times on Bonanza for famous guest stars and wild stallions or breeding stallions. For the white wild stallions and the Little Joe sob story where the desert kills the horse that was a present to his Dad. His name was Sheik/King. If you look at old Bonanza’s, Adams 1st chestnut had 4 knee/hock stockings. His 2nd lead horse while a good match only has three. Well this cowgirl has had enough typing tonight. Keep those spurs dull and reins loose.

    1. Hello Jill,
      Thanks for more commenting. I supposed it’s hard to come up with the actual true stories of all these horses and those privileged to ride them. We can only go with what’s out there. I know shows use several horses during a filming. It’s fun to read about it all and wonder what it’s really like to ride and film a western. I think Clint Eastwood is another who didn’t really like riding, or so I’ve read, but he sure made one heck of a cowboy. ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. Hi Rosemary,
      I really don’t know, it’s just my personal opinion, but here goes. The only cowboy I remember calling his horse “son” was Trampas from The Virginian. I think it was his fun loving personality that came out when he spoke to his horse. Another thought I had is he didn’t have any kids so maybe he looked at his horse as his responsibility to care for like he would a son. Cowboys relied on their horses so taking care of their horse was most important.
      Thank you for stopping by and leaving a comment. ๐Ÿ™‚

      1. Most horse folk have an extra name they call all their horses by. Geldings often being preferred on breeding ranches since a good herd stallion will round up a mare in heat under saddle or not! Son, Sonny, Boy, Bud or Buddy, Babe, Ol’boy, and many others depending on the buckaroo might answer your question.

        1. Hi Jill,
          Thanks for commenting. I’ve called my mare Poppy different names as well like Pop, Little Miss Pop and so on. I think it’s the same with other horse owners. ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. I heard James Drury bought his horse from the EZ Appaloosa Ranch in Modesto or Ceres from a Mr Ed Shandrew. Is this true?

    1. Hi Brenda,
      I couldn’t find any information on your question. Sorry. I hope you can find the answer. If you do let me know. Thanks for stopping by.

    2. Joe D was owned, trained and stabled by Del Combs. He was probably one of the most rock solid horses anyone could hope for and Drury did beautifully with him. Easter Ute, the appaloosa Sara Lane rode in the series was owned by Drury, and also kept by Del Combs.

      1. Hi Devon,
        Thank you for chiming in and answering Brenda’s question and mine as well. It’s interesting information to know about Joe D. I did not know the name of Sara’s appaloosa, Easter Ute. That was fun to find out. Again, thank you for commenting. ๐Ÿ™‚

  8. I love horses such beautiful animal. They need love and care. Have a care trip for the round up. Susan Greene

  9. What a wonderful article. Since I am obsessed with westerns of any kind I thoroughly enjoyed reading this! What about the horses in Laredo. I think Peter Brown owned the Black horse he rode. Then there’s Trigger, Silver, and Tonto’s horse.

    1. Hi Jane,
      Thank you so much for your kind words. I’m the same with westerns. It’s what got me thinking about the horses in the show. I will have to research about Laredo and Peter Brown. I remember him. Will check it out then write up what I find. Love Trigger and Silver. They were so well known. I know I’ve read about Tonto’s horse, but can’t recall a name, more research. Thank you again. ๐Ÿ™‚

  10. Somewhere I read that the horse buck that Matt Dillingham rode well one of them was his own horse. He bought it the article said. And also read Lorne Green didn’t really like riding horses.It was a statement Landon made once.Although I did not know he had bought his buckskin that was a very awesome thing to do for children.

    1. Hi Heidi,
      Thanks for stopping by and making a comment. I’m thinking you mean Matt Dillon of Gunsmoke fame? Yes, I had heard that he owned one of his horses used in the show. I did not know that Lorne Green didn’t really like riding horses. He sure did a good job at it, making it look easy and realistic. Part of being an actor I guess. Again thanks for your input. ๐Ÿ™‚

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