What Kind Of Horse Did Matt Dillon Ride In Gunsmoke
Western History
The Lone Writer  

What Kind Of Horse Did Matt Dillon Ride In Gunsmoke? Check It Out

The connection of horses with cowboys and Western movies is exceptional. Like the American radio and television Western drama series Gunsmoke, you can’t consider a show or a film western without the horses. Have you ever wondered what kind of horse did Matt Dillon ride in Gunsmoke?

Gunsmoke is the longest-running Western in history, airing 20 seasons with 635 episodes for 20 years. People loved Gunsmoke so much that the series would likely appear in any “Best Show in History” list.

It featured some notable actors, James Arness, Amanda Blake, Milburn Stone, Ken Curtis, etc. These actors gave outstanding deliveries to their characters, and you can’t find any part of Gunsmoke that didn’t get some attention. Even Matt Dillon’s Horse did. Yes, the horse!

What is a Western without some gunslinging and horse riding? Fans of the show were so into the show that they noticed when Matt Dillon’s Horse appeared in a different show—Bonanza.

So, let’s face the question.

What kind of horse did Matt Dillon ride in Gunsmoke?

Matt Dillon had a horse called Buck.

Buck was an American Quarter Horse (Big buckskin). He was the same horse used by Ben Cartwright in Bonanza

After the cancellation of Bonanza, they brought Buck to a riding center for physically and mentally challenged kids, and he became the teaching horse.

Buck lived a long life. He died at 45.

What Was Gunsmoke About?

At first, Gunsmoke was a radio program that started three years before the television show started. It ran simultaneously with the television show for a while and ended a few years later.

Gunsmoke is one of the most famous Westerns ever made. The show went from airing for thirty minutes to airing for an hour because viewers loved it.

Matt Dillon was the focus of the show. The United States Marshal Dillon was responsible for maintaining law and order in Dodge City, Kansas—a town by the United States borders.

Each episode showed Dillon fighting invaders that try to cause trouble in the town. That went from robbers to bandits and generally anyone that came to commit a crime in the place.

Dillon didn’t fight alone. He had allies, such as Festus Hagen, Doc Adams, and Kity Russell. These people helped him meet up with his responsibility to the town.

The show was both suspenseful and drama-filled. Many other production companies have tried making films with the Gunsmoke storyline, but few have had such success.

Who Played Matt Dillon In Gunsmoke?

James Arness played Matt Dillon in the Gunsmoke series for 20 years. He was in the military before he went into entertainment. His first entry into entertainment was as a radio announcer in 1945. Arness was an ambitious young man, and he was sure Hollywood was where he would make his mark in the world.

His Hollywood debut was in the “Farmer’s Daughter” as Peter Holstrom. As his career progressed, he featured primarily in Westerns. However, he was also in a few science fiction films.

His friendship with John Wayne was not news to most people. There were speculations that John Wayne got the offer to be Matt Dillon, but he declined and recommended James Arness. These speculations were unconfirmed, but John Wayne did recommend James Arness for the role.

To play Matt Dillon, Arness had to change his hair color. Regardless, his sacrifice was nothing compared to the attention and fame that he and his co-stars received because of Gunsmoke.

After Gunsmoke ended, Arness featured in other Western series and movies and all the Gunsmoke made-for-television movies (five of them).

Arness’ role as Zeb Machan in How the West Was Won took him to cult status in Europe. The movie became more popular in Europe than in the United States.

He died in 2011 at 88 years old of natural causes. Before his death, he had written his autobiography. When asked about the book, he said he wasn’t getting any younger, and this was the best time to write a book about his life.

Who Was Matt Dillon In Gunsmoke?

The fictional character, Matt Dillon, was the US Marshal of Dodge City. His primary responsibility was to maintain law and order in the town.

The first few seasons of the television series Gunsmoke were from the radio show’s script and story. Hence, Arness portrayed Matt Dillon like William Conrad, who played Matt Dillon on the radio.

As the TV show stretched into several seasons, the television Dillon began to evolve. Dillion understood that violence was a part of his job, but he used it less and less as the seasons progressed, except when he had to.

Matt Dillon was discerning and able to spot people who came into the city with bad intentions. He was physically a large man, so many of the people he went up against didn’t match his strength except in a group.

Dillon was also a man of few words. He was a solid and formidable opponent, but he was also honest, dedicated, incorruptible, and focused. His commitment to his job was visible throughout the series.

Why Did Matt Dillon Leave Gunsmoke?

The show ended after its 20-seasons run. Additionally, Matt Dillon, played by James Arness, was on the show until the end. He would have probably continued in the program if it hadn’t ended.

What You Should Know About The End Of Gunsmoke

Gunsmoke ended without a goodbye episode. The season closed like every other season, no warnings, no final show, nothing. It is disheartening that a show with such a huge viewership and long run didn’t end with a bang.

The final episode was a regular episode titled “The Sharecroppers.” The chapter was mainly about Festus, Matt Dillon’s sidekick.

Here are a few things you should know about the end of Gunsmoke:

The cast and crew weren’t aware the show was endingGunsmoke‘s cast and crew members didn’t know that “The Sharecroppers” episode was the last. Many of them thought that there was going to be a new season.

The network took everyone by surprise, the cast, the crew, and the audience. What’s even funny is that some cast members found out that the show was ending from the Hollywood Reporter.

The last episode filmed was not Sharecroppers: The latest episode the cast worked on together was “Hard labor.” Hence, “The Sharecroppers” was the final episode the network aired, but it wasn’t the last episode filmed.

The network had previously made an unsuccessful attempt to cancel the show: Before the final cancelation of the show, the network had tried to end the program. This attempt wasn’t successful because the fans of the show didn’t agree. Therefore, the show went on for as long as it did.

It was Milburn Stone’s last time on television: Milburn played Doc Adams. He was in 629 episodes and died a few years after the show ended. Milburn wasn’t in any other movie or show after Gunsmoke. He died at 75.

What You Should Know About Gunsmoke

The show ended many years ago, but it left its mark in the film industry, and it is still often talked about by many. There is no doubt there are a lot of good things to say about Gunsmoke.

Here are few things you should know about the show Gunsmoke:

Casting Marshal Matt Dillon was hard: It was difficult for the network to cast the perfect person to play Matt Dillon. Many people say it was because they wanted John Wayne to play Matt. However, he wasn’t interested because he was on another project.

The network tried out about 26 different actors, rejecting even William Conrad, the radio Matt Dillon based on his looks. They finally settled with James Arness, who John Wayne recommended.

James Arness was in every episode: James Arness, who delivered the Matt Dillon character excellently, was the only character in all 635 episodes of Gunsmoke. Milburn Stone, who played Doc Adams, was right behind him and would have been in all episodes. However, he had a health problem and had to be absent in six episodes.

It was the No. 1 show on television: The show was a huge success. It was at number one for five consecutive years. Its consistency was laudable because it is challenging to give excellent and loveable content for 20 years consistently. Even at the times when it wasn’t the number one show, the show was doing well.

The show had many notable guest appearances: Cindy, Peter, and Jan from the Brady Bunch, including some Star Trek stars made an appearance in Gunsmoke.

Ken Curtis played more than one character: Ken Curtis, who played Festus, Matt’s sidekick, played more than one role. However, his leading role was Festus.

“Get out of Dodge” is a phrase from the show: Matt Dillon would chase criminals out of the town, saying, “Get out of Dodge,” referring to Dodge city. The show popularized the phrase, and fans used it often.

Gunsmoke was once the show with the most episodes in history: This feat was before the Simpsons. Gunsmoke won a primetime award for the program with the most episodes.


What Kind Of Horse Did Matt Dillon Ride In Gunsmoke?

Gunsmoke was a hit, and everything connected to it turned to gold, whether a horse or an individual.

You can watch the movie if you haven’t done so. It’s a masterpiece loaded with action and has scenes that will keep you at the edge of your seat. Additionally, if you’re not a fan of horses, the movie might also cause you to change your mind.

This post is an overview of the Character Matt Dillon, his horse, and the series Gunsmoke.

Did you enjoy reading about What Kind Of Horse Did Matt Dillon Ride In Gunsmoke? If you are looking for other great western books, check out these authors.

16 thoughts on “What Kind Of Horse Did Matt Dillon Ride In Gunsmoke? Check It Out


    still do not know how many horses matt dillon rode on the shoe gunsmoke

    1. Vara Hitchcock

      Only one supposedly, the big buckskin colored quarter horse, named Buck. I think in the very earliest episodes he occasionally rode a bay colored horse, and I detected a tiny bit of difference in the first “Buck”, but it could have just been the lighting of those early episodes. Regardless, for all practical purposes, he rode Buck. After Gunsmoke, Buck was the horse Lorne Greene rode in Bonanza for that entire series. I read Lorne Greene cared for the horse, and as the horses were actually rented for both series, he bought Buck to be sure he would be cared for. Thus, Buck wound up as a therapy horse for children and lived to the extraordinary age of 45..he spent 20 yrs on Gunsmoke, then 9 years on Bonanza. Assuming he was AT LEAST 5 yrs old at the beginning of Gunsmoke, that made him 25 at the end of that series, then 9 years on Bonanza made him 34 yrs old at the end of Bonanza. I’ve not checked to see if there was a span of time between the 2 series, but, regardless, Buck spent over 10 yrs as a therapy horse, his greatest achievement, really.
      I don’t guarantee my figures, but he was a GRAND HORSE!!!

      1. Randy Brown

        Bonanza and Gunsmoke ran through the 60’s together. Bonanza on NBC, and Gunsmoke on CBS. I am unsure when Bonanza ended, but Gunsmoke ran on for years after.

      2. Michelle

        Yes! Such a brave stoic figure, he’s by far my favorite western star! I’m here trying to figure out if he ever worked on rawhide. Pete (the scout) rides a big beautiful buckskin, and every time I catch an episode I have to wonder. Anyone know if the horses for Rawhide were rented from Fat Jonas?

    2. Marilyn Huston

      Buck, the only horse he and Ben Cartright rode.

      1. Nome Middleton

        There were three different buckskins that Matt rode, all could be recognized by the white markings above their hooves or no markings above the hoof! “Buck” had just a small white above his back left hoof. Another buckskin had three white markings above three of his hooves and last, one buckskin with no white markings at all on the legs!

    3. Laura O.

      I would love to know who taught these actors to ride?


    The picture at the top isn’t even the golden horse we see in most of the episodes! You know, the one Ben Cartwright rode, according to the article.

  3. Monica

    Why did they not let the cast members know it was the last show? Also, why was it never written in the story that Matt and Miss Kitty never married?

    1. Hondo

      Matt Dillon would never had married Miss Kitty! She was a madam! When a cowpoke was seen walking upstairs with one of the saloon girls…..where do you think they were going? I think onetime when they showed the cowpoke and a girl walking upstairs they then showed Doc Kitty and Matt having a beer and Miss Kiity said, “Cha Ching”.

  4. Stacy

    There is no doubt in my mind that there were several different buckskins used on gunsmoke. One had a white star, strip, snip on its face. One didn’t and one was obviously a heavier, gated breed! I can’t find any proof anywhere but i am absolutely certain there was no less than 3 different horses used!

  5. Bob & Connie Schmitz

    Matt Dillon rode different horses in the in Gunsmoke. they only talk about Buck horse .there was buckskins with different white marking so there was different fill in horses. . What where there names + i would love to know about the Big sorrel gelding with white face Chester rode in Gunsmoke .

  6. Mike

    Not one mention of Chester.

  7. John Lucas

    Is it the same horse Sam Elliot rode in “Conagher”?

  8. S. McClain

    Iv watched over 300 episodes of Gunsmoke over the years…as an observant horsewomen and owner of several AQHA buckskin in my lifetime, Iv noticed every change in horses used by Matt Dillon. There were differences in build, color and the way each one moved . I counted at least 4 different animals used. Horses get sick, lame, have bad days just like people. Hollywood never has only one horse for any star in any series. That is ridiculous. I’d say the number was likely closer to six different mounts Matt used over the years . Also ridiculous ? That a horse would be used over a thirty year straight run, a thirty year old horse is not used as Gunsmoke and Bonanza horses would be …this whole article has many fabricated stories.

  9. Larry Sauer

    And what about Chester, who was on Gunsmoke for about 9 years.

Leave A Comment

book cover mockup for Western Writing

Looking for an Epic Western Adventure? Look No Further!

How would you like to ride hell-bent for leather into a world full of adventure and heroism?

Get Your Free Copy Today>>