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Saddle Pals & Sidekicks
The Juvenile Helpers

(Courtesy of Don Kay Reynolds)

Don Kay Reynolds
Nicknames: "Jug", "Little Brown Jug"
1937 - 2019

Donn and Nancy Moyer met Reynolds when all were performing at the Western Washington Fair in Puyallup, Washington in 1991. The Moyers had worked with his father Fess Reynolds in 1958 touring the midwest with the Gene Holter Wild Animal Show. Fess was a famous horse trainer and rodeo performer. Nancy and Donn lost track of "Jug" when he moved from Santa Paula, California. After several years they located him in his new home in Texas, and in February, 2003, they called and renewed old acquaintances and chatted about old times.

Donn and Nancy write:

Reynolds was born in Texas in 1937, and his first professional appearance before a rodeo crowd was just before he turned three years of age. He had a Shetland pony and an Angora goat act with his dad Fess Reynolds (often misspelled as "Fez"). Roy Rogers brought them to Hollywood after working with them in NY rodeo. He was in Rogers' YELLOW ROSE OF TEXAS in 1944, a total of 5 films before being cast as "Little Beaver". "Jug" made 14 films, including THE RED PONY with Myrna Loy and Robert Mitchum, and he worked at Republic, M-G-M, Columbia and Equity Productions/Eagle-Lion. Spent his life in a variety of jobs both show biz and non-show biz. He was divorced after 31 years of marriage and has two grown boys, a granddaughter of 16 and a grandson 16 months old. He worked in a number of films as animal trainer, including BIG TOP PEE WEE and the made for television movie THREE KINGS with Jack Warden and Stan Shaw. "Jug" worked for Universal for six and a half years in the animal department until they closed it down in January, 2002. He is also a ferrier.

He went to Norway in the 1980s for six weeks and trained Reindeer to pull a sled so actor Dudley Moore could handle them in the film SANTA CLAUS: THE MOVIE (1985). He has trained horses, zebra, camels, ponies, goats, and recently spent a year in New Zealand training animals for THE LORD OF THE RINGS. He worked on SCORPION KING, and in 2001 worked on KATE AND LEOPOLD. For a 2002 episode of THE SOPRANO'S, he trained a horse that was "sick" in the script. More recently, he trained the two horses (one the primary the other the stunt double) that were the horse "Shadowfax" (ridden by Gandalf) in THE LORD OF THE RINGS.

In retirement now back in Texas, we asked him if he got a studio call what would he do and he said "nothing. I am really retired."

An interesting side note --- it has been alleged that actress Marin Sais gave him the nickname "Little Brown Jug", but that is incorrect. He was given that nickname when he was about a year and a half old. The Reynolds family all have nicknames. His cousins are "Blackie", "Whitie" and he was called "Brownie". He said his dad took him to see a man in Texas named Hal Hart. When they walked through the door, Glenn Miller's "Little Brown Jug" was playing on the radio and Hart said "Well if it isn't Fess and 'Little Brown Jug' ".

One of his brothers is Paul "Sled" Reynolds. "Sled" is a well known animal trainer and owns the "Gentle Jungle" which provides a variety of animals to for TV and films.

Donn & Nancy Moyer
Updated: May, 2006

(Courtesy of Donn & Nancy Moyer)

Early 1990s - Donn J. Moyer and 'Jug' Reynolds were both working at the Western Washington Fair in Puyallup, Washington.

(Courtesy of Donn & Nancy Moyer)

Left to right are Donn J. Moyer, Cheryl Rogers Burnett, Don Kay Reynolds and Nancy Moyer - 2006 in California.

(Courtesy of Donn & Nancy Moyer)

Above - 'Jug' Reynolds (on the right) with Donn and Nancy Moyer at their home in Washington state.

Received word from Donn and Nancy Moyer that their friend 'Jug' Reynolds passed away in Texas on January 9, 2019. A tribute and remembrance follows:

We were stunned and saddened this morning to receive word of the passing of a dear and close friend and showman Don K. 'Jug' Reynolds in a Dallas Hospital Wednesday, January 9, 2019. He was 81. Reynolds had gone to Dallas to have eye surgery done and before he was discharged doctors noticed that he had a very slow pulse. They immediately did tests and found a main artery almost 100% blocked and were preparing to do angioplasty surgery and insert a stent when his vitals dropped and after 20 minutes of life saving procedure he was declared dead.

'Jug' was born in Vernon, Texas on May 29, 1937, the son of Audry Tipton Reynolds (who decided when he was 8 years old that he was 'Fess') Reynolds and Mable 'Skeeter' Reynolds both rodeo, wild west star performers and animal trainers.

His first public performance was when he was almost three with his trained goat. From that time on his life was rodeo, animal training, performing and ending up in Hollywood where he starred as 'Little Beaver' to Jim Bannon's 'Red Ryder' in four Red Ryder films. He was featured in 14 movies.

'Jug' spent his life before the public as well as training animals for rodeos and films. His greatest challenge was training two horses that were 'Shadowfax' in two of the three 'Lord of the Rings' films. Ian McKellen, the film's star who played Gandalf, said he "doubted the film could have been made without the talent of 'Jug'". It took a year in New Zealand where the films were made and 'Jug' made friends with the cast and locals as well.

It was Roy Rogers, 'King of the Cowboys', who brought 'Jug' and his father to Hollywood and he was raised amongst the western stars and their kids like one big family. I had the pleasure of writing his life story in the book which my wife Nancy edited and promoted - The Last Little Beaver of the Movies. The book went into a 4th printing and sold worldwide. There were two previous child stars that also played the 'Little Beaver' role - Tommy Cook, a good friend, and Robert Blake.

Nancy and I were playing the Puyallup Fair (now the Washington State Fair) in 1990 where 'Jug' was handling elephants for Gary and Kari Johnson's 'Have Trunk, Will Travel'. Some years later I told 'Jug' we should do a book on his life. He was not interested, but in 2006 he called from his home in Bowie, Texas asking if I still wanted to write the book. We said "Absolutely" and he was soon at Sea-Tac International Airport with three suitcases. The large one weighed 56 pounds and contained only photos. He stayed with us for 17 days and once we had decided on what photos would be most meaningful, he sat beside me while I wrote his life's story as he related it to me with the photos.

On our 60th wedding anniversary, he was sent an invitation knowing, like many other fiends and relatives, he would not be able to come because of the 2,694 miles from Bowie, Texas to Tacoma ONE WAY. On the day of the anniversary celebration at Hope Evangelical Church, there was 'Jug' with his big Texas grin. He became the hit of the party. He had driven in three days but was only able to stay 8 hours as he had to make the return trip because of a previous commitment. That was a total trip of 5,388 miles and made the greatest wedding anniversary present we could ever have received.

'Jug' was inducted into the Texas Rodeo Cowboy Hall of Fame in July 2015.

He is survived by his sons Shawn and Troyce of California, a sister 'Sammie' of Bowie, and two brothers. His son Troyce just sent me the following information: "Dad always requested no services (he hated being the center of attention). He will be cremated and his remains scattered on the Topa Topa mountains overlooking Thacher School in Ojai."

Rest in Peace, little CowPoke.

With love, Donn and Nancy
January, 2019

The Digital Library at the University of Texas at Arlington has several images of Don Kay Reynolds performing in the early 1940s:

Renolds was inducted into the Texas Rodeo Cowboy Hall of Fame in 2015:

Linda Brock and her father were friends with Fess Reynolds, and she has a blog with info and pictures titled "My Dad and Fess Reynolds":

The website on Paul "Sled" Reynolds and his "Gentle Jungle" is at:

Sir Ian McKellen talks about THE LORD OF THE RINGS, Gandalf, Shadowfax ... and Don Reynolds:

  Although some of the data is incomplete or inaccurate, the Internet Movie Database (IMDb) has film appearance information on Don Reynolds:

(Courtesy of Les Adams)

Above from L-to-R are Don Kay 'Little Brown Jug' Reynolds (as Little Beaver), Jim Bannon and sidekick Emmett Lynn in a scene from RIDE, RYDER, RIDE (Eagle Lion, 1949), the first of the four Bannon Red Ryder adventures.

(Courtesy of Don Kay Reynolds)

(Courtesy of Donn & Nancy Moyer)

The above composite includes photos of Reynolds in the mid to late 1940's.

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