Leo Hancock Hayes, the last breeding son of legendary foundation sire, Blue
Valentine, died Saturday, June 30, 2007, of an apparent heart attack at the
Funny B Ranch, near Lohn, Texas. He was twenty-seven years old.
Foaled in 1980, the year Blue Valentine died, Leo Hancock Hayes was bred
by Hayes Brothers (Buster and Laurie) of Thermopolis, Wyoming. Lauries
son Vince, owned him until he was twenty years old.
Vince related an incident about the horses good sense, 1983-84
was particularly bad winter in Wyoming, with deep snows. I was riding Leo
Hancock Hayes to check cattle and got bogged in the snow. My dad always told
me not to get off in such a case because the horse would come right on top
of you trying to get out of the snow. But I couldnt move the horse,
so I got off and the horse just stood there until I got out of the way. Then
I clucked to him and he got out of the drift on his own. He was very good
minded. He got his right front foot cut very badly, nearly cut off that year.
They did surgery on him but he was never able to be ridden afterwards but
was kept as a stud.
While under ownership of Vince Hayes, Leo Hancock Hayes stood at stud several
years at the late Ray & Cheri Wardells ranch near Moorcroft, Wyoming.
Advertisements for the stallion read as follows:
The youngest son of the great BLUE VALENTINE, by RED MAN, out of a
granddaughter of LEO!! Dams sire, RIP RIP is by LEO, out of SUGAREE
BARS, AAA AQHA Champion and stakes producer by SUGAR BARS. 2nd dam also goes
to LEO, ZANTANON, and JOE HANCOCK. A great sire with the bone, substance,
disposition and ability that all these families are famous for, PLUS A KEEN
In 2002, on behalf of his family, Vince Hayes received the American Quarter
Horse Association (AQHA) award for 50 Years of Consecutive Breeding
and 50 Years of Cumulative Breeding of American Quarter Horses.
Leo Hancock Hayes has certainly helped to perpetuate the Blue Valentine legacy.
Since 1998, the "Come to the Source" sale has been held in Laramie, Wyoming
each August in conjunction with the Hyde Merritt Memorial Roping. Of the
nineteen sires listed as reference sires for the 2007 sale, seven of them
are Leo Hancock Hayes sons or grandsons: Wyo Blue Bonnet, Hancock Wiggy Bars,
Hancock Red Wiggy, Blue Fox Hancock, and Blue Leo Man, Fox Blue, Blue Dart
Fox, and Wyo Blue Valentine.
In 2001, Randy and Susan Brookings, the owners of the Funny B Ranch, purchased
Leo Hancock Hayes from Vince Hayes. They were already avid Hancock breeders
and credit Fred Gist of the Wagon Wheel Ranch, Lometa, Texas, who owned Rowdy
Blue Man, another son of Blue Valentine, for their involvement in Hancock
Realizing he was one of few own sons of Blue Valentine left, Brookings began
an aggressive breeding program centered around Leo Hancock Hayes. They crossed
him back on their own daughters of Rowdy Blue Man, Hancocks Blue Boy, and
other lines of Hancock-bred mares. They doubled the stud fee to attract better
quality mares but it didnt slow down the breeders. Through 2006, the
aging stallion sired a lifetime total of 468 registered foals. Nearly half
of them were born after he was twenty years old. Even at twenty-seven years
old, all of the thirty-five mares he bred this spring have been checked safe
in foal for 2008. With the registration of the 2007 and 2008 foal crops his
total foals will total well over 500. More than 50% have been roans.
As with Blue Valentine, most of Leo Hancock Hayes get have been used
as ranch or rodeo horses with no official AQHA record. However, some are
starting to make their mark in the show pen. Bar Star Danger, a 2002 bay
roan stallion has points in Tie-down and Breakaway Roping. He qualified for
the AQHA World show in Junior Tie-down Roping and earned his Register of
Merit (ROM) in 2006. Blue Fox Hancock, a 2001 blue roan stallion, has AQHA
points in Working Cow Horse and Heeling and earned his AQHA Open Performance
ROM in early 2007. A bay roan daughter, Bar Star Sadie and a red roan gelding
Pros Velvet Seven, both have points in Tie-down Roping. Several others have
done well in other organized competition such as foundation shows and ranch
In keeping with tradition, quite late in his life, this great stallion seemed
to be getting some due recognition. But that is par for the course. When
Joe Hancock ran himself out of competition at the quarter mile in the early
1930s, a good decade prior to the formation of the American Quarter
Horse Association in 1940, who knew his legacy would endure eight decades
later as one of the greatest foundation sires of all time?
When his son, Red Man, burned up the race tracks of Arizona, carried the
top ropers to the pay window, and sired outstanding horses out of very ordinary
mares, sometimes all in the same weekend in the 1940s and 1950s,
no wonder those men who knew him personally still revere his name sixty years
after his death.
In one of Red Mans last foal crops, when a blue roan colt hit the ground,
that never stood at stud to the public, and had no official AQHA performance
record, who could imagine that his name would perpetuate the line of
can-do horses across North America and even imported to Australia?
Yet, twenty-five years since his death, one can flip through the pages of
several equine publications today and you will find many breeders advertising
Blue Valentine bloodlines.
Leo Hancock Hayes was in good condition and healthy to the end. Always attentive
to the proximity of mares in neighboring pastures, but ever gentle, when
someone walked into his paddock of knee-high grass, he would position himself
just right to let them know where he wanted to be scratched always
just behind the withers. He was much loved and will be sadly missed at the
Funny B Ranch and by many other breeders in the horse business.
Randy and Susan Brookings have a very promising son of Leo Hancock Hayes
already waiting to carry on his work. As a junior sire, Funny B BlueMuchaMan
has been breed to a limited number of mares at the Spiller Ranch near Wingate,
Texas. MuchaMan's willingness to baby-sit the foals, his tolerance of a gelding
ridden through his mares during breeding season, or to have a ten-year-old
kid ride him bareback with a rope around his neck, explains why his babies
have exceptional dispositions and great minds, so typical of Leo Hancock
Hayes progeny. And then there is the color...with two foal crops on
the ground, MuchaMan has produced 100% roans.
And so it is with great sires that quietly go about their work, without heavy
show schedules and large promotional budgets. Through their offspring, however
late it comes, eventually their value is realized by the masses. That may
very well be the case with Leo Hancock Hayes. In the words of the great western
writer, Louis L'Amour, "There will come a time when you believe everything
is finished. That will be the beginning."