in The Remuda segment of the 1960 Quarter Horse Digest
written by Charles Waite, Broadus, Montana
When the Hancock family
of horses are mentioned in Quarter Horse circles the reactions
vary from sincere respect to open contempt. For a family of
horses headed by a stallion, who the eminent pedigree, bloodline
and historical research expert, Mr. Franklin Reynolds claims
was the greatest Quarter Horse by test on track and in the
stud that ever lived, this is indeed an unusual situation.
It is therefore important that certain circumstances surrounding
this particular family of Quarter Horses be discussed without
prejudice, at the same time remembering that there are no
registered Quarter Horses whose bloodline is without some
measure of cold blood!
For a number of years the dam of Joe Hancock caused many to
shudder, while others either discounted her bloodline in part
or wholly. Some were only interested in what the horses Joe
Hancock was himself along with what his progeny could and
did do on the racetrack, rodeo arena and on the cattle range.
Compilers of the A.Q.H.A. stud books were content to claim
the dam of Joe Hancock was of unknown breeding. Any non-horseman
would at this point be puzzled as to why such a horse was
admitted to the studbook at all. How can a horse be ignored
tho, who outran every running horse for five long years at
all short distances and even Thoroughbreds up to ½ mile as
well as siring some of the fastest sons and daughters and
at one time 9 out of 10 top rope horses in the USA were of
The real story however, is not why, but how and what influence
can so called cold blood have on hot-bloods.
Many people, when referring to draft horses automatically
picture them as huge ill-proportioned brutes, weighing at
least a ton. There was a much lighter type in general use,
however, and surprising results have come forth from matings
when crosses were made on small Indian ponies, for instance.
As a boy I rode such a horse, a cross of one such a horse
and a small Cheyenne Indian mare. At such a time in our country
such horses were not uncommon and they were all one could
ask for as a cowhorse. Such horses seldom inherited too many
of the heavy horses' traits, much more often the lighter horses'.
In the study of genetics, as far as I know, there are no fixed
rules to govern just why a certain cross will produce a specific
individual. Trends have been established with forms of lower
life, but the higher forms seldom permit such certainty. Two
individuals from the same parents will rarely be of identical
size, conformation (build), disposition, etc. If it were otherwise
every living species would soon look exactly alike. So it
is that some mares may never produce a really good foal, while
some produce outstanding individuals from the cover of one
or more stallions.
During the Remount Service days a great deal of Thoroughbred
blood was infused into the western saddle horse. There are
some who discount the value of the stallions furnished by
the Army Remount, but in all fairness, they were as a whole
a distinct improvement over the average western horse before
their time. Most of the stallions were of a type then called
"saddle type" Thoroughbreds. An excellent parallel can be
shown of the effect of these Thoroughbreds on common range
mares of very mixed strains.
The first cross of a Remount Thoroughbred stallion on the
average range mare produced a most noticeable and distinct
improvement over the dam. When these half-bred thoroughbreds
were themselves crossed again to a good Thoroughbred the foals
showed much less of the cold blood of their mothers and the
next cross, making them 7/8 Thoroughbred, began to approach
the pure-bred Thoroughbred in most all characteristics. These
¾ and 7/8 Thoroughbreds were most likely to show a great deal
of speed, the only indication of their cold blood being the
lack of the classical Thoroughbred appearance.
Disposition was in too many cases identical to the Thoroughbred,
which left something to be desired in the ranch horse. The
only thing most often found in such crosses was their unbelievable
endurance. Many of these crosses when handled properly would
out-distance any horse known to any breed. The Endurance Races
of the 1940's were a prime example of this fact. A number
of other breeds (purebreds) known for endurance were given
their chances in the several such races run in Montana, but
only the Thoroughbreds with a touch of cold blood ever won.
One winner beat the best in two different races, and was later
reported to be "open" to the world.
In considering what effect cold blood had on Joe Hancock,
it is first important to remember that this horse was campaigned
widely for 5 years and never beaten. In talking to one man
at Pawhuska, Oklahoma, who knew and raced against Joe Hancock,
I learned first hand the respect this horse had earned for
himself. The handlers of Joe Hancock did not "pick" competition.
They would run him against all odds not usually asked of any
horse today. Even tho he ran "short" they thot nothing of
entering him in half mile races. How many of today's quarter
milers are ever entered against top Thoroughbreds at distances
up to half a mile?
There has never been any question as to the quality of Joe
Hancock's top line. His sire, John Wilkins, was a magnificent
looking animal, his one flaw being poor feet. Peter McCue
is certainly most welcome in any Quarter Horse pedigree. The
dam of John Wilkins was Katie Wauwekus, a wonderfully bred
mare tracing to the imported *Sovereign and *Australian. It
was *Australian who founded the Fair Play line from which
such horses Chance Play, Display, Man O' War and War Admiral
and others came.
The maternal side of Joe Hancock's pedigree contained one
cross of cold blood. It is this one cross which has caused
some to frown on the Hancock family and yet in the light of
the family record this attitude has never been justified.
There is not much doubt that Joe Hancock's cross of cold blood
gave him good sound feet and an endurance that neither his
sire or grandsire had shown. Good legs and endurance are to
this day a "trait" of the Hancocks. Joe Hancock himself had
speed, endurance, sound conformation and in the Stud the ability
to pass along to his many progeny, desirable characteristics.
Can more be asked of any horse?
article was contributed by Ryan Jaeger… Thank you!
(note from Michelle: Please keep in mind that this article
was written some 50 years ago.. I don't think anyone is bothered
by the fact the Joe Hancock's dam was half Percheron, of light
draft type, anymore. It is common knowledge that the American
Quarter horse has been influenced by many breeds and developing
breeds that were indigenous to the USA at that time. Morgans,
TB's, drafts and horses of Spanish descent as well as others.)