Every once in a while, a horse comes along that is so beautifully conformed, so talented and, yet, so tragic, that it tugs at the heart of even the most rough and tumble horsemen. Such was the case of Poco Lena.
Poco Lena was 26 months old when she competed in her first cutting in Stamford, Texas, where she placed second. Pine Johnson continued showing the mare throughout the year and Poco Lena kept winning in halter and cutting. Don Dodge bought Poco Lena from the Three D in 1953, and showed the mare through 1958. The duo racked up awards and titles in both AQHA and NCHA. Dodge sold the mare to B. A. Skipper of Longview, Texas, in 1959. The Texan showed Poco Lena from 1959 through 1961, and Poco Lena won the AQHA Honor Roll and was reserve in the NCHA’s world standings all three years.
The road took its toll on the 12-year-old mare and she foundered badly. She recovered to show again, but foundered again on the way from Arizona to Skipper’s ranch. The driver abandoned Poco Lena after hearing of Skipper’s death. Found days later, the mare’s founder was much worse.
Dodge heard about the incident and contacted Dr. and Mrs. Stephen Jensen in California. The couple was standing the young Doc Bar, and decided to buy Poco Lena. With the help of two veterinarians, Poco Lena was nursed back to health. It took three years, and the mare lived in the front yard because it was the softest spot on the ranch. The couple bred the bay mare to Doc Bar in 1966 and Poco Lena foaled Doc O’Lena. She was rebred to Doc Bar, and in 1968, the 19-year-old mare foaled Dry Doc.
“She went downhill after foaling Dry Doc,” recalled Charlie Ward, the Jensen’s ranch manager. “It was just too much for her.”
Poco Lena was the first horse inducted into the NCHA Hall of Fame and the first mare in the American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame.
Poco Lena died in 1968 at 19, and was inducted into the American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame in 1991.
Biography updated as of March 1991.