Hancock Horses

Hancock Horses

This is a story of a powerful line of Quarter Horses known as the Hancocks. These horses date back to before the Quarter Horse Association was established and carry on down to present day. Joe Hancock himself was descended from horses known as Steel Dusts and Copperbottoms in the late 1800’s. They were known for being exceptionally fast horses even then. Joe Hancock was born in 1923 (some say 1925). Some of the directors of the newly formed Quarter Horse Association were not in favor of letting Joe into the Quarter Horse registry – the reason being that Joe’s dam had some Percheron blood in her. Today when we hear the word Percheron we automatically think of the huge draft horses used in the big hitches. His mother however was not that kind of a horse but was used by the owner to ride to town, work cattle, and to match race. After some strong and opinionated debates the directors finally decided that they had better let the Hancocks into the breed. The deciding factor was that they had better accept the Hancocks because these horses were so good that if one of the other breed associations were to accept them they could prove to be extremely stiff competition for the Quarter Horse breed. Also there was the fact that they had such outstanding speed, conformation, and potency that there was just no way that these horses could be overlooked.

Joe Hancock’s sire was John Wilkins who was a legend in his own right and was one of the very best sons of none other than the legendary Peter McCue. It was no accident that the Hancock line was so good. Some of the traits attributed to these horses were strength, outstanding feet and legs, good calm dispositions, and speed galore – not to mention outstanding conformation that any true horseman would have to admire. There were many breeders of that era who felt that Joe was the best horse they had ever seen. After all these years, the Hancocks are still known for their strong bone, and feet and legs that stay sound year after year.

Cora Hancock, the wife of Joe’s breeder, said that Joe was not only an outstanding individual but was a perfect gentleman as well. Match racing was in full swing at that time and Joe wasn’t long establishing a great racing legacy – so much so that it wasn’t long before no one would race against him. Before he was well known (when people were still willing to match their horses against him) there were several farms that were bought from the winnings of Joe’s races.

Joe produced great ranch and rodeo stock as well. Many of the top ropers of today say that Joe Hancock was the all time greatest sire of rope and ranch horses that there has ever been. Some ropers felt that if you didn’t ride a Hancock horse to the ropings that you might as well stay home. It’s no wonder that ranchers still revere his name and want to use his bloodlines even after all these years.

The directors who decided to let the Hancocks into the Quarter Horse breed made no mistake. He went on to be one of the all time greats and truly a legend. In 1992 Joe was inducted in the Quarter Horse Hall of Fame for his outstanding contribution to the Quarter Horse industry. This story however is not just a story of a horse way back when. The Hancocks continue to stamp their offspring to the present time. We have them and without a doubt they are the best horses we have ever owned. These horses carry on the tradition of being big, sound, gentle horses that last a long time. They are also the most beautiful horses we have ever had on our farm. To give you an idea of how these Hancocks are stamped I’m going to tell you a couple of little stories. The first is of a friend and customer of ours who was down in the Western States along with her horse that she had bought from us shortly before that. An old rancher that happened to be driving by noticed her horse. He stopped his pickup truck, and said to her ‘That’s a Hancock horse isn’t it?’ she said that it was, to which he replied, ‘Damn good horses,’ and drove on down the road.

The second story that I’m going to tell you is about when a rancher from Georgia bought a load of nine big Hancock horses from us. When we got to the Canada/US border the federal vet got our health papers in order and then went out to inspect our load of horses. He stood there for several minutes just looking at these horses and then said, “I’m going to tell you something. I’ve had this job ever since I graduated from vet college and I’m due to retire in a couple of months. On average over all those years we would probably see seven or eight groups of horses go through here in a day. In all that time I have never seen a group of horses that looked as good as these. It’s been a pleasure just to see them.” To top it all off when we landed at the ranch in Georgia and Jase had led the horses off of the trailer, the rancher who had bought them said, “Well, if we need horses again we’ll sure know who to get in touch with.”

We’ve ran a lot of mares here at home over the years and although everyone always talks about their stallions (including us) we feel the mares are just as big a part of the equation in any sound breeding program. Our Hancock mares are big powerful blue roans that are easy keepers and who year after year lay down and foal without needing assistance. They are excellent mothers and at weaning time they come in with outstanding foals at their sides. They are without a doubt the best mares we have ever had on the place. When you see these foals it’s easy to see why we’re so high on their mommas. We don’t feel for one minute that some of the current fads and fancies have any place whatsoever in a sound breeding program. We look for the fundamentals such as soundness, durability, and dependability. We like a no-fault, no-excuse kind of a horse and feel that our customers appreciate horses like that as well. We have many of the greats in our pedigrees but we put more emphasis on the horses themselves. We do like a horse that makes you sit up and take notice.

Something to think about as well is that when a horse has been dead for over three quarters of a century and folks are still talking about him and wanting his bloodlines and he is in the pedigrees of so many top horses you could never promote a horse to that extent. There are no two ways about it – Joe Hancock did that on his own right. He has to be one of the most pre-potent sires that has ever lived. Another point that I should make here as well is that in all honesty I feel that the Hancocks are probably as versatile a horse as there is in the breed. Many of the in-vogue horses of today would be crippled up in no time flat if they were put in rough country where the Hancocks stay sound. As I said before, Joe’s offspring are noted for their good feet and legs, excellent bone, and they have a big foot and usually a black hoof. It doesn’t get any better than that.

Two of our sons start our young horses and many many outside horses as well. They appreciate the fact that the Hancocks are easier trained than most and that these horses don’t have to be drilled over and over for them to get the gist of what our guys are teaching them. They are ready for the next step sooner and therefore their training progresses much faster. Our program here is kind of based on the gentle giant concept. Many of our customers come back to tell us that the young hoses they had bought from us previously haven’t stopped growing and that they are big, strong, and kind. Our horses come by their size honestly. Our Northstar Smokin Gun stallion stands 16.1 hands and he’s leaving offspring that are as big or bigger than he is. His sire Blue Apache Hancock stood 16.3 and was considered by some folks to be the biggest Quarter Horse in the breed. He weighed 1540 pounds at the end of the breeding season coming off pasture when he was 20 years old. In his prime he weighed 1640 pounds. This size follows right on back to Peter McCue who stood 16.2 hands and weighed 1430 pounds. Our Northstar Rio Bravo stallion is a good size but probably wont be quite as big as Smoke. Our youngest stallion NS Smoking Blue Steel is a son of Crowheart Rainman and looks like he’s going to end up very big as well.

We would suggest that you put some ruggedness, soundness, and plain old fashioned horse-sense into your horses. These are the kind that get you there and back safely and in comfort and they sure enough look good doing it. They know how to work and seem to be able to keep on going when many of their compadres have shut down for the day. We could go on and on but as they say ‘a picture is worth a thousand words’ and we believe that to be a true statement so take a look at the following pictures and judge for yourself the kind of horses we’re telling you about.

If you’re looking for a top horse for a certain discipline or a group of horses to start or improve your breeding program give us a holler. We think we can likely help.

All of us here at Northstar would like to wish you good folks fresh air, good grass, cool clear water, and good honest horses.