Gene Autry — My Partner, Champion (1951) 🇺🇸

Gene Autry — My Partner, Champion (1951) |

September 02, 2023

I get more questions about Champion than about anything else connected with my radio, television, movie, rodeo and personal appearance work.

by Gene Autry

Champion was foaled on a farm near Lewisburg, Tenn. He belongs to a breed called the Tennessee Walking Horse, known for its good nature and stylish performing ability. He’s a chestnut stallion standing 15 hands high (that’s five feet) at the shoulder, and he weighs 2,200 pounds but doesn’t look it. His four pure white stockings and his blazed face give him what I’d say is a distinguished appearance.

As far as we know — that is trainer John Agee, me, and his handlers — Champ has the world’s largest repertory of tricks. He kneels, waltzes, marches, bows, hulas, rhumbas, unties knots with his teeth, laughs, kisses people. Recently, he’s taken up the revived fad for the Charleston. He can assume almost any pose known to other educated horses, and a few that are strictly his own.

Champion’s 13 years old now and we’ve been a lot of places and done a lot of work together. He’s been in 50 television films, seven World Championship Rodeos, dozens of movies, and hundreds of children’s and veteran’s hospitals all over the nation. He has drawn record crowds as a solo attraction in dozens of department stores. His voice and his hoofbeats are heard on our radio program and have been recorded as part of the sound effects in children’s records.

Champion’s the only horse that ever set foot in London’s Savoy Hotel. He’s tied up traffic in Piccadilly Circus and in Dublin, and has paraded on most of America’s great thoroughfares from New York’s Fifth Avenue westward.

It would take a greater writer than I am to get across the feeling of partnership and close creature-to-creature friendship that ties a horse and a rider together, especially when the eyes of spectators or movie cameras are on them. But it’s there all the same. Champion has never let me down in a performance, for which he commands my respect and gratitude.

Champion gets about a thousand fan letters a month. Many of his admirers, including grown-ups, send him lumps of sugar and other small presents. Some kids have sent drawings of Champ to be “autographed.”

As his closest associate and co-worker, I can truthfully say that Champion is a horse in the finest western tradition. He’s got a keen intelligence, a fine physique, and he gets along well with people.

Some playful publicity writer once wrote an imaginary interview in which Champion complained that I was slow to take his advice, saying to the writer: “Autry forgets how long I’ve carried him with me in this business.” Well, I never forget it. We’re partners, and we’re keeping it that way as long as we can.

Gene Autry — My Partner, Champion (1951) |

Collection: TV Digest Magazine (Philadelphia), October 1951