What Makes The Hancocks Handy?
By Mark Herra

Quarter Horse Journal, April 1951

The Hancock line of the Peter McCue family of the Quarter Horse breed, which includes all the direct and indirect offspring of the founding sire, Joe Hancock, is one of the most controversial groups in the ranks of short horses. Damned by some and praised by others, these horses have been called everything in the books - from rough, awkward, feather-legged puddin'-foots to smooth, graceful, slick-performing all arounders.

Within this line or family, it is true, there is probably as wide a difference in type and conformation as will be found in any other bloodline. But for horses, regardless of what they look like, who can get up and do the job that is expected of them, the Hancock's can't be beat. They are tops on the ranch, unexcelled in the rodeo arena and hold their own on the straightaway race track. For horses with a real and worth-while economic value, they have definitely proved their excellence and have won the acclaim of men who use and ride horses themselves.

According to G.B. Mathis of Amarillo, Texas, who knew Walter Hancock, the breeder of Joe Hancock, Joe's mother was half-Percheron - "a dark bay mare of solid, smooth and well balanced proportions." Joe Hancock's father was the incredibly fast John Wilkens, a son of Peter McCue by Dan Tucker by Barney Owens.

My own definition of Joe Hancock is that he was a freak, a genetic freak, whose blood was very prepotent and whose genes, procured from his great sire and grandsire, nicked mighty successfully, if not sometimes freakishly, too, with most of the mares to whom he was bred.

Let me say that the word "freak" implies nothing against the horse, for by this time my readers should know that I am one of those who admire the Hancock horses. There have been many freaks, distinctively outstanding and powerfully prepotent, in the history of the Quarter Horse breed. Janus, the greatest foundation sire of the breed, was a freak. There just weren't any other horses like him except his sons.

Peter McCue, himself, Joe's grandsire, was definitely a freak. He was a huge powerful stallion who stood 16 hands and weighed 1430 pounds. Peter McCue's son John Wilkens, out of a Thoroughbred mare, was another tremendous horse, freakish in the respect that his hoofs were so fragile and soft that he never lasted on the track, even though the few times he did run, he proved himself extremely fast. The story is told that in one race, John Wilkens threw all four of his shoes the first 100 yards out of the gate.

The mating of John Wilkens to Joe Hancock's mother was perhaps done with the idea of eliminating, in the offspring, the sire's fault - soft, immature hoofs. At any rate, Joe Hancock inherited the great running ability of his sire, but he certainly was free from this fault. It's been said that once in preparing Joe for a race, his hoofs had grown so long and were so hard that a small hand hatchet was used to trim them instead of the regular farrier's nippers.

Joe was a big rugged horse, with lots of speed and good, straight legs, two characteristics that are still found in the Hancock line. What he has produced, and what his sons and grandsons are producing, make Joe Hancock one of the truly splendid usin' horse sires of the past quarter century. Let's look at some of the mounts who trace to him:

Roper: This stud is a dappled dun with jet-black points. He weighed 1250 pounds and stands right at 15.2 hands. Although retired from the track now, he is listed in the Register of Merit of the Racing Division of the AQHA. His best distances, while in racing shape were 330 and 440 yards. He has been used as a ranch horse and a cutting horse. Several professional steer ropers once wanted to purchase Roper, but his owner, W. N. (Bill) Hunsaker of Douglas Arizona, wouldn't sell him. As an all around ranch-chore animal, he is one of the best, possessing a quiet, even disposition and an abundance of stamina and ruggedness for the toughest of jobs. Roper is by Roan Hancock, a son of Joe Hancock, and out of a Burnett Estate Quarter-type mare by Red Buck.

Jo Jo Hancock: A son of Joe Hancock, is a bay stallion, weighing 1210 pounds and standing 14.3 hands. He is an ideal type of horse for ranch use and his owner, H.P. (Buck) Price of Clovis, New Mexico, describes him as "the type all cowboys dream of." His colts seem to be general-purpose animals that can be used for almost anything a western man would want to do with a horse. Jo Jo Hancock's dam was Patsy Daugherty, who was by Spark Plug-Puss. (see more photos of Jo Jo on Joe Hancock Sons & Daughters)

"Yearly the best steer jerkers in the business come to this big roping event and in 1950 it was young Clark McEntire, Limestone Gap, Oklahoma, riding his good son of old Joe Hancock, Joe who was the boy to beat all the way through. Defeating 11 other entries, Clark roped, tripped and tied 5 wild Florida steers in 110.4 seconds. He won $3273.78." ~ from old Quarter Horse Journal submitted by Roz Smietanski.

Joe: This good brown gelding is young Clark McEntire's famous steer horse. A son of Joe Hancock, Joe was purchased by the McEntire family in 1945. Since that time, McEntire has used this gelding in all big steer jerking contests in the United States, and has won his fair share of them. Joe weighs 1286 pounds and stands 15.2 hands. He has the cow sense and power to handle anything that is roped by his youthful owner. Riding Joe, Clark once roped and tied a big steer at Coalgate, Oklahoma, in the fast time of 16.7. Clark's father, John, a steer roper of considerable ability himself, has said that "steer ropers in Oklahoma who aren't riding Hancock horses are trying to get them; they just don't consider themselves mounted unless they've got a Hancock under their saddle."

Red Man: Here is a stud who has spent the greater part of his life taking Arizona ropers to the pay window. His head isn't the prettiest in the world, for when a colt in Montana, old man Jack Frost chewed his left ear off. But in conformation, Red Man possesses a strong, rugged type of build with a red roan coloring. He looks fast and he was fast. Now that he is crippled, his owner, Kenneth Gunter of Benson, Arizona, has retired him from all active competition and races. He stands about 15.2 hands and weighed, in his prime, close to 1280 pounds. Ask any Arizona cowboy about this stud if you want to be told what a good horse is like. He is a son of Joe Hancock-Burnett Roan. (Go to Redman's page for more)

Peanuts: In my rodeo writings I have often said that this horse is today the world's best steer horse-and I'll say it here again, too. His owner Everett Shaw of Stonewall, Oklahoma, holds the world's record time for bedding down five steers in 99 seconds. This feat was accomplished at the 1949 Pinedale, Wyoming, steer jerking contest. Of course, Shaw was up on Peanuts. The bay gelding weighs 1120 pounds, stands 15.2 hands and is 13 years old. He goes to stock as well as any horse in the world and has the know-how, power and coordination to "flop" that stock in a most desirable way, after Shaw has roped. He is one of the quietest, most well-mannered of all rope horses.

Dusty Hancock: This stallion is a blue roan, with one of the sweetest heads you'd ever want to see on a horse. He is 11 years old, weighs close to 1300 pounds and stands 15 hands. He's got a heavy muscular conformation, but not too heavy to be classified "AA" at several Quarter Horse sprint distances. But being able to fly down a straightaway is only one of Dusty Hancock's accomplishments. He's a very good rope horse, and has taken his owner, B.A. (Speck) Wilson of Tucson, Arizona, to team tying money at more than one big show. When Speck throws the slack, after connecting with the horns of a run-away steer, look out for a real "whoa!"

"Shoat Webster, 1954 RCA World's Champion Steer Roper, on Popcorn."
Popcorn was sired by Roan Hancock.
"There has been some speculation that Roan Hancock and Red Man are actually full brothers.
One of them (probably Roan Hancock) registered with the wrong birth year."

photo submitted by Lee Jones taken from old Quarter Horse Journal

Popcorn: This bay gelding, a half brother to Shaw's steer horse, both of whom trace to Joe Hancock, has won Shoat Webster of Nowata, Oklahoma, more money in the steer roping events than any other mount in the business. He is 11 years old, weighs 1150 pounds and stands 15-1 hands. Riding Popcorn, who is second in steer busting ability only to his half-brother, Peanuts, in my estimation, Shoat has won such important contests as the events at Clovis, New Mexico; Laramie, Wyoming; and Ruidoso, New Mexico, besides winning many top-paying rodeo events. Popcorn is fast, handles himself well and knows exactly what is expected of him once a steer has been roped.

These horses are only a handful of the many offspring - stallions, geldings and mares - of Joe Hancock, that have and will make a name for themselves as using mounts of great all-around ability. These special ones have been selected to demonstrate the usefulness of Joe Hancock's blood because they are the ones most familiar to the author. It would take a volume to describe all the good horses who trace to old Joe, but these few here are a good, though small, representation.

Another reason why the Hancock's have made such a versatile name for themselves, besides the fact that old Joe's blood nicks so peculiarly and successfully with almost any type of mare, and because of his great sire, John Wilkens, is because they have had good ranchers and cowboys working with them. It's not everyone who can take a horse and make him into something really worth while. But the men who have used the Hancocks were men who knew what they were doing. This, combined with the bloodline characteristics of speed, stamina, durability, ruggedness, tractability and good old common cattle sense, has made the Hancock line of the Peter McCue family of the Quarter breed something to talk about.


This is the article that had a missing page: This article was submitted by John L Moore from an incomplete April 1951 copy of The Quarter Horse Journal... Thank you Lee Jones, for submitting the missing last page…

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