In the kingdom of Quarter Horses, there are many legends, but there is only one King – King P-234.
The bay colt was foaled June 25, 1932, on Manuel Benavides Volpe’s ranch in Laredo, Texas. The colt’s sire, Zantanon by Little Joe, was considered the Man O’War of Mexico. Jabalina, the colt’s dam by Strait Horse, was hogbacked and difficult to handle, and traced to Little Rondo and Traveler.
Volpe named the foal Buttons, but that was changed when the bay was 2 or 3 years old. Byrne James owned the stallion and it is reported his wife changed King’s name saying, “Buttons, I’m changing your name to King, for truly you are the king of Quarter Horses.”
Around the same time, Jess Hankins of Rocksprings, Texas, was looking for a good stallion to breed to his riding mare. Hankins heard about King, and decided to have a look at the stallion. It was a 75-mile trip, so Hankins hauled his mare, just in case he liked the looks of the regal boy.
Hankins liked the stallion so much he wanted to buy King. Winn Dubose, King’s current owner, was not interested in selling, but Hankins was persistent. After a year of going back and forth, Dubose accepted $800 for the stallion.
Hankins used the stallion as a regular cow horse, roping and cutting on him. The rancher eventually quit using King because of the stallion’s heavy breeding schedule.
King sired a few racehorses such as Squaw H, but is best remembered for siring horses with tremendous performance ability and cow sense. A few of the stallion’s better known sons were Poco Bueno, Royal King, King’s Pistol and Continental King.
The grand old stallion died of a heart attack in 1958 at 26. He was inducted into the American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame in 1989.
Biography updated as of March 1989.