ROY ROGERS, Jr. closes museum, puts "smartest horse in movies" TRIGGER on the auction block.  But what really happened to the golden palomino star?

When Trigger died in 1965, Roy Roger’s trusty Golden Palomino that he rode in films and TV was not stuffed.

He was mounted – meaning Trigger’s horse’s hide was stretched, quite tightly, over a plaster likeness and left to dry.

As The ENQUIRER reported previously in an interview with Roy Roger, Jr. hard times had fallen upon The Roy Rogers/Dale Evans Museum in Branson, Missouri. And he was forced to sell off not only Trigger but his mom Dale’s horse Buttermilk and their canine pal Bullet.

These and other curios are expecting to hit Christie’s Auction House next week with Trigger estimated to fetch a golden $100-$200,000 max bid.

So if Trigger’s hide was preserved in creating his monument, Enquiring minds wanted to know where the rest of him went.

Sadly, no happy trails for the beloved horse — Trigger’s horseflesh had been brokered illegally and sold to unscrupulous southwest eateries.

The butcher responsible, John L. Jones, was sentenced to five years in prison.

Trigger’s first screen appearance was not in a Rogers western.  He was Olivia De Havilland’s mare in Warner’s The Adventures of Robin Hood in 1938.  Roy cut a deal with the studio for the horse and the rest, as they say, is history, pardn’r.