HORSE (COWBOY HERO’S HORSE)

   From the beginnings of the Western genre, the cowboy hero’s special relationship with his horse and the essential value of the horse have been emphasized. When a cowboy is forced to sell his horse, as occurs in Owen Wister’s The Virginian, he loses his sense of dignity and worth. Horse thieves in Westerns naturally deserve to be hanged.
   From a psychological perspective, the cowboy’s close relationship to a specific horse, a named horse, is sometimes seen as a substitute for the male’s need for female companionship, unavailable in historic myth because of the scarcity of womenon the frontier or unavailable in the post-code Western due to cultural restrictions on women’s roles. Thus, the symbolismof a cowboy astride his beloved horse becomes clear. Horses provide the cowboy hero with a sense of nobility reminiscent of knights-errant and their steeds. They also differentiate the masculine independence of the hero who rides his solitary horse while assorted other male characters in town are confined to buggies and wagons—thus denying their manliness. Antimyth Westernsoften counter the usual horse symbolism. The Man with No Name, or Joe (Clint Eastwood) in A Fistful of Dollars (1964), rides into town on a burrow, not a noble steed. Lee Marvin in Cat Ballou (1965) is discovered drunk atop his drunken horse, leaning, horse and all, against a building. William S. Hart was one of the earliest Western stars to identify himself with a specific horse, his beloved Fritz, who follows him through numerous films and is celebrated by Hart’s farewell to Westerns in his sound prologue to the 1939 reissue of the silent Tumbleweeds (1925). Especially throughout the 1930s and 1940s, B Western–period cowboy stars often gave top billing to their horses. Roy Rogers’s Trigger was billed as “the Smartest Horse in the Movies.” William Boyd’simage was inevitably associated with his horse Topper. Some horses, such as Tom Mix’s Tony were associated with their stunt and trick ability. While some later Western stars called horses by name, for example, John Wayne and his horse Dollar, named horses—and their cowboy owners—were primarily associated with lower-budget Westerns.
   Some of the most famous movie horses and their stars are as follows:
   Apache (Bob Baker) Scout (Jack Moxie) Black-eyed Nellie Scout (Tonto) (Smiley Burnette) Shamrock (Robert Black Jack (Rocky Lane) Livingston) Brownie (Bob Steele) Sheik (Tim Holt) Buttermilk (Dale Evans) Silver (Buck Jones) Cactus (Sunset Carson) Silver (The Lone Ranger) Champion (Gene Autry) Silver Bullet (Whip Wilson) Cyclone (Red Barry) Silver King (Fred Thomson) Dollar (John Wayne) Smoke (Dick Foran) Flash (Eddie Dean) Sonny (Betty Miles) Fritz (William S. Hart) Sonny (Wild Bill Elliott) Koko (Rex Allen) Starlight (Tim McCoy) Lightnin’(Monte Hale) Stardust (Randolph Scott) Lucky (Jimmy Wakely) Sultan (Ray Corrigan) Mike (George O’Brien) Target (Gail Davis) Pal (Bob “Tex” Allen) Tarzan (Ken Maynard) Pie (Jimmy Stewart) Thunder (Wild Bill Elliot) Raider (Charles Starrett) Tony (Tom Mix) Rebel (Pete Russell) Tony, Jr. (Tom Mix) Ringeye (Smiley Burnette) Topper (William Boyd) Rocky (Kermit Maynard) Trigger (Roy Rogers) Rush (Lash La Rue) White Flash (Tex Ritter) Rusty (Tom Keene) White King (Fred Scott)

Historical Dictionary of Westerns in Cinema. . 2012.

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