During the formative years of AQHA, Joe Hancock caused a lot of controversy. Some swore by the stallion’s abilities and others cussed his breeding. Few horsemen could say what a Quarter Horse was, but they knew, “it dang sure wasn’t a Percheron.”
Joe Hancock was foaled in 1923 and was by John Wilkins, by Peter McCue, and out of a half-Percheron mare. Joe Hancock’s breeder, John Jackson Hancock, lived in the Canadian breaks of the Texas Panhandle. The rancher kept a band of 35 to 40 mares, and periodically bred five or six mares to a small Percheron stallion.
As a long yearling, the brown colt was moved to Nocona, Texas, where John’s son, Joe lived. Joe ran a few ranch horses and did not need a stallion. The vet was called and the stallion was hobbled so he could be castrated. The vet, Jim Kingensmith, looked at the colt and said, “Joe, I’ve cut a lot of horses, and I’m fixing to cut another one. But damn, this is a helluva horse.” Joe looked at the brown colt, thought a minute, and said, “Let’s take those hobbles off.”
After using Joe Hancock on cattle, the rancher thought the horse might have some speed. The stallion was sent to Bird Ogles in Oklahoma to race. Ogles took the stallion to a county fair, and the racing secretary asked for the colt’s name, Ogles said, “He doesn’t have one, but he belongs to a man named Hancock. Just call him Joe Hancock.”
After scores of races, the stallion was sold to Bird Ogles’ son, George, for $1,000, an exorbitant amount during the Depression. The new owner turned around and sold the stallion to Tom Burnett, owner of the Burnett/Triangle Ranch for $2,000.
Joe Hancock began his career as a senior stallion for the Burnett Ranches. Horses such as Red Man, Little Joe The Wrangler, Joe Tom, Roan Hancock and Brown Joe are remembered for their powerful builds and level-heads. Horsemen remember half brothers Popcorn and Peanut, sired by Roan Hancock, who won the hearts of ropers Shoat Webster and Everett Shaw.
Joe Hancock died in 1943 at 20, and was inducted into the American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame in 1992.
Biography updated as of March 1992.