The Hancocks
featured 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 his blood?

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?

This 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.)




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