Horse-Breeding History: Royal King

Royal King, as his name suggests, had Quarter Horse royalty in his bloodlines. But he was a commoner at heart.

From America's Horse

Earl Albin startled his wife one evening in 1944 when he announced he’d finally found what he’d been looking for. “He’d been looking for something?” she wondered. The Albins raised sheep and cattle - in addition to kids - on their 3,000 acres southwest of Fort Worth in Comanche, Texas. In a little more than a year, the Albin family had grown by twin daughters and a son. Now it appeared they were adopting a horse.

Not just any horse, Earl would be quick to remind them. This was a son of King P-234. Earl was a pedigree addict. He and his father, C.M. Albin, were among the first to register mares when AQHA opened its books in 1941. Prior to and for some years after the opening of the AQHA book, Earl made numerous trips throughout his region to check on bloodlines of horses for Helen Michaelis of Eagle Pass, Texas, who helped start the registry.

Learn about the bloodlines of another influential American Quarter Horse stallion. Download AQHA’s Doc Bar Bloodline report and brush up on your Quarter Horse history.

In September 1944, Earl invited his friend Jack Whiteside on a short road trip to visit Felton Smathers of Llano, Texas. Felton had been waylaid by a heart attack and was needing to sell some horses. Royal King was 17 months old but still running across the rocky Llano pasture at his mother’s side - which explains why he was listed as the sire of his dam’s next foal, born in 1945. His dam, Rocket (later registered as Rocket Laning) traced to Yellow Jacket on both sides of her pedigree. King P-234 progeny already fetched above-average prices. Earl and Jack agreed to partner on Royal King’s $250 tag. The two friends took 2- year-old Royal King to a show in San Angelo on April 8, 1945, where he was approved for the AQHA registry by Helen Michaelis. Someone at the show offered $1,500 for the King colt. Jack believed you could never go broke making money and cajoled Earl into accepting the offer. Instead, Earl wrote him a check for $750 and kept Royal King. As a 2-year-old, Royal King bred 17 mares who produced 16 foals. Of the 13 that lived to maturity, 12 earned performance ROMs. That first crop included Miss Nancy Bailey, among the first in the National Cutting Horse Association Hall of Fame, and Major King, a noted sire. Royal King started cutting competitively at the age of 6 and improved with age. Ridden by a revolving cavalry of cutters - including Milt Bennett and Stanley Bush - he was among the NCHA leaders for several years. In 1952, he was third in the nation; in ’53, he was reserve world champion. At the same time, he was breeding 80 to 100 mares annually.

Brush up on your Quarter Horse history by taking a look at the bloodlines of another great Quarter Horse sire. Download AQHA’s Doc Bar Bloodline report and discover more horse-breeding history.

Royal King always stood at bargain-basement prices, and Earl never turned a mare away. Nonetheless, the stallion was the leading sire of performance point-earners in 1959 and 1963-67. His daughters and granddaughters have produced some of cutting’s great genetics, including Jazabell Quixote, 1983 NCHA Futurity non-pro champ and dam of July Jazz, champion of the open and non-pro at the 1989 NCHA futurity. Fourteen of the last 20 NCHA Futurity winners are Royal King’s descendants. A lot of commoners came to the court of Royal King. For instance, at the Minnesota State Fair in St. Paul, a mounted police officer approached Earl exercising Royal King and asked what he’d charge for a breeding. “Fifty dollars for one cover,” Earl said. They led the animals to a vacant shed on the fairgrounds. The following year, the officer sent a picture of the foal to Earl with a thank-you note. That foal was just what the officer had been looking for.

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