Hancock Horses .com

FEATURED BREEDER; September 2005

Merrill Ranch - Performance Blue Valentine, Hancock Horses
by Leslie Merrill

Starting out in raising horses several years ago we went searching for the "most proven and best bred blue roan stud we could buy." We had seen other breeders struggling in the business with lower quality, plainer type horses and knew that was not the route we wanted to take. Growing up on ranches ourselves and Shawn coming from a rodeo contracting family we wanted a horse that had substance, speed, cow sense, durability and a great mind. The first stallion selected for our program was, Azure Rojo, a blue roan son of Ruano Rojo out of a daughter of Sak Em San. Rojo had been ridden but due to bulky scar tissue on a front pastern he had limited flexibility on a front foot so we didn't ride him. In checking with former owners Rojo reportedly had a great mind and was used for cattle work, pasture roping and started on heeling. He was also a half sibling to known rope money earners of over $300,000 so we felt he did fit what we were looking for at the time. Rojo is truly a bit smarter than many other horses. He never gets upset and just stands, observes and thinks through any situation. Rojo began putting excellent foals on the ground for us which all exhibited his keen mind.

After beginning to breed Rojo we were determined to "show" a Hancock horse so that others could see what excellent horses they were, therefore we purchased Eddyred Hancock, a bay roan son of Red Eddie Hancock and out of a daughter of Joe Buck Hancock. Eddie had been started roping but had had a year off. He was a large horse standing 15.3h and weighing 1350 lbs. - a gentle giant. Using him in the pasture and for breeding he again displayed the durability, cow sense and sensible disposition of the horses we'd been raising. Unfortunately time prevented us from getting Eddy the use in the arena he deserved and we ended up selling him to a serious team roper down south. Incidently within a year he has won the USTRC Shoot Out in Summerville, WV, approximately $2000 in jackpot team ropings and is headed to the USTRC Finals this October. His new owner has stated that nothing can outrun him and "he'll pull down a brick wall if the rope will hold". He's a very happy customer who purchased Eddy as his first Hancock bred horse. We are very happy with the filly out of Eddy that will be entering our broodmare band as he now has become a proven Hancock performance horse.

Continuing our quest to stand a proven performance Hancock stallion we traveled to TN to purchase, Blues Roan Man, a black son of Blues Dividend and out of a daughter of Steve Tucker. Although out of two blue roans Blue is true black in color and homozygous for the black gene. He is 31.25% Blue Valentine. He is a ROM earner with points in 5 AQHA events including Heading, Heeling, Break Away Roping, Pole Bending and Barrel Racing. He is a multiple time team roping champion and EQFQHA All Around champion. To earn this Blue won or placed near the top of the roping events, barrels, poles and trail all in the same show. He was also the grand champion halter stallion at that show in a class of 17. This is the type of proven horse we wanted to use to continue on with our program and show others that Hancocks aren't just ranch or rope horses but go far beyond. Blue has since been pulled out of the breeding pasture to be roped off of at the high school level where he finished third in the heeling and qualified for the SDSHSR Finals. As you can see by the photo with our 9 month old daughter sitting on Blue in the breeding pasture in the middle of his mares his mind is unbeatable but what is also really special about Blue is his endless amount of try no matter what you are doing with him. His points in barrel racing and pole bending came with literally no training in those events. Blues former owner stated that "he would just do anything you asked of him so we tried him on everything and he came out on top". Rumor was that Blue was previously owned by a cutter but fell just short of making the cut to be shown so was sold. We are very happy with Blue and his first couple of foal crops.

In reading national level show results over the years I had come across another Hancock bred horse which was rising to the top of the AQHA roping world as well as the WFQHA. His name was Hancock Silver Tonka. He was a gray son of Hum Bug Hancock and out of a grand daughter of Dusty's Blue Heaven. Tonka impressed us as you rarely saw Hancock breeding in the show circuit among other quarter horse lines. After talking over our strong belief that Hancock horses could compete with the best quarter horses out there people just needed to realize it, we followed up on the purchase of him in the spring of 2004. Tonka is a Hancock horse with amazing conformation and versatility. He demonstrates that the Hancock horses of today are not all giant, raw boned or coarse. Tonka is 15h tall and weights 1200 lbs. equaling the stature of Blues Roan Man. Tonka has 123.5 AQHA points. He was the WFQHA World Champion in Halter and Get of Sire. He was undefeated in halter the entire year, yes halter. He went on to win many more WFQHA championship titles in several roping events as well as reining, yes, reining. He has his AQHA superiors in Heading and Heeling, is a 3 time AQHA World Show qualifier and was 8th in the World in Tie down roping. Neither Tonka nor his bloodlines are a fluke. A paternal half brother, Hancocks Silver Buddy, has also been at the top of the World Show. A son of Tonka out of a Dick Badger daughter has nearly completed his reining training. We are very proud to add this extremely proven, versatile Hancock stallion to our program and are enjoying his first foal crop this year.

Feeling our program was where we needed it to be we ran across an unbeatable opportunity in early 2005. We had been crossing some speed type mares on our Hancock stallions in the past which were desirable to customers. Several barrel racers looked for them as prospects because they felt they would be durable and carry the speed they needed. So when we had the opportunity to purchase Pat Cowan, a buckskin son of Sun Frost and out of a daughter of John Red (AAA) by Red Man we felt he fit the perfect niche for a slight out cross in the program. Sun Frost is one of the best proven lines of quarter horses to come out of the state of SD. Pat is a large horse with wonderful quickness, agility and again a great mind. He has a ton of cow sense and try. He displays the proven versatility found in crossing Hancock horses with other strong lines being a 2 time timed event champion competing in Heading, Heeling, tie down roping and steer wrestling. He has also placed 2nd in a ranch horse competition, nearly has his ROM and qualified for the NBHA World Finals several times. One of Pat's sons was in the top 10 in the AQHA barrel standings earlier this year. Pat's first foals for us will arrive in 2006.

With the stallion battery we have accumulated we have also strived to cross proven mare bloodlines on them. Throughout history certain lines have been proven to win. We feel that Hancock bred stallions can work with any of these lines and even enhance them. Most all of our mares are out of proven sires in cutting, racing, reining, roping, wch etc. They range from a daughter of World champion race horse Easy Saint, to a daughter of Genuine As Diamonds (a Superior Heading and Heeling horse who is also a full brother to Shinning Spark) to a daughter of the great cutting horse and producer Doc Wilson. Along with several other up-close Hancock bred mares we do also believe in crossing Blue Valentine grandget and have several Blue Valentine granddaughters we are using. These foals will all be double bred Blue Valentine and have him on their papers twice. We are strong believers that all great genetics need to be kept as close up as possible in breeding programs so strive for this in all our mares. We also have a group of outstanding Driftwood mares that we are excited about including daughters of Wilywood, Ciderwood, Drifts Chip, and future broodmares out of Lone Drifter and Mr Junewood (4 time AQHA World Show). We watch for other Hancock breeders who are proving their stallions in the show world and acquire fillies from them such as a daughter of Valentines Drift, a 2004 World Show qualifier in the heeling with 28 AQHA performance points.

Blues Roan Man under saddle

Blues Roan Man

Hancocks Silver Tonka tie down roping

Hancocks Silver Tonka heading

Hancocks Silver Tonka heeling

Pat Cowan Barrel Racing

As mentioned we know these horses have proven themselves on the ranch and in many ropings time and time again over the years but we feel it's time to show others that they can, will and do compete and win in any event at any level. We invite any questions from any other Hancock breeders or others about our stock and philosophy.

Shawn & Leslie Merrill live in the heart of the badlands, in South Dakota.

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