Hancock horses - Cross post

Hello all,

I have a question about extensively in bred QH lines. I put this post on the Sport Horse Breeding page as well.

I know a very inbred Hancock horse, whose sire is the damsire. The sire can be found all over the sire’s side, as well as the dam sires side but not the dam’s dam line. She is freakishly inbred to another sire.

Is this common amongst QHs? No WB breeder would use this much inbreeding. Of note, I LOVE this Hancock horse, who has a WB build but is pretty hot and reactionary. I would love to have this horse which is why I’m asking about this kind of inbreeding.


My husband always says it is called “line breeding” until it goes really wrong, then it called “inbreeding”.

There are breeders who will do it. I don’t think they are as common as they used to be, but they are still out there!


Thank you!

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Sire and dam sire is too close. I think traditional line breeding was, sire of the sire be the grand sire of the dam or something like that?

I’m not into line breeding and like cutter said, some people still do it, I won’t buy a horse that is. And that’s coming from a cowhorse person where the lines can be tight. I don’t want to see the same names on a set of papers, again, just my opinion.


Thank you!

I asked a friend who was a QH breeder for decades and she thought something similar. I’ve seen many of her get go under saddle and pretty much LOVE them, and I trust her input. She has seen the horse in question go. She agrees with you regarding the breeding although the horse seems impressive in many areas. I come at it from a dressage POV which may not be at all what Western people want. But he’s been difficult for his western trainer…yet the trainer is starting to really like him and is contemplating keeping him. I personally think he will and this will be his next horse. He was purchased as a “flip” horse but you know how that sometimes goes!

Thank you!

Thank you, while I LOVE this horse I have wondered if this breeding was common practice in the QH world. Thank you so much for your input!

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I sure wouldn’t call it common, but it’s done sometimes. Usually not that close, but responsible linebreeding does concentrate desirable genetics and thus performance.

The ruler of linebreeding in the QH world was King Ranch, which produced many of the foundation lines that is the bedrock of the breed (think Old Sorrel, Mr San Peppy, etc). The key, though is that you have to be absolutely ruthless about culling horses with imperfections, both physical and mental – and that is what trips most people up. Either they don’t want to/can’t be that demanding, or their criteria is too low.

But in the top echelons in western performance sports, you’ll see some relatively close crossing.

For example, top western performance sire High Brow Cat is 3x4 to Doc Bar, and his son Metallic Cat is 2x3 to Smart Little Lena.

So not exactly brother to sister crosses, but still pretty strong on concentrating some bloodlines. But those two stallions above, their progeny earnings have exceeded $130 million…so it seems to work pretty dang well!


Thanks! The only side of the bloodline that isn’t Hancock is the mare’s dam, who has King on all 3/4 sides and shows up 6 times. Red Rattler, by Old Sorrel, shows up a couple of times. Every part of the pedigree is line crossed / inbred.

Yet the horse is sound and has such great movement. Yes, alot of energy. But he’s so cool and so fun to interact with and watch progress.

A friend purchased a QH mare from a sire I believe was Pink Jungle Cat. She was great as a youngster despite her very problematic stalling situation 6 months out of the year as a youngster, but developed significant structural problems and was put down at something like 6 years. My friend spend a small fortune on her vet bills so the horse had every opportunity. I can’t find her pedigree anymore to verify or refute extensive inbreeding.

In going through the pedigrees to give info for this thread, I’m increasingly disappointed at the amount of inbreeding in QHs. Not saying they are the only breed with extensive genetic issues but I’ve just been noticing this lately.

Since the 70’s people have entered into the breeding arena who have no experience or desire to understand the importance of genetics. To those people, they think if a sire is great to see in a pedigree, then the more the merrier. Take a look at our halter horse’s pedigrees back to the 3rd and 4th generations. Every single individual in their pedigree is descended from Impressive. You can see the same irresponsible practices in Western Pleasure horses as their ancestors will have many descendants of Zippo Pine Bar. AQHA, the registry, has allowed Quarter Horses to become a boatload of genetic disasters because of the intense concentration of Three Bars through every single specialty. In the era that Quarter Horses were being produced, the men were ranchers who understood the importance of not breeding the same lines too closely to reduce the likelihood of genetic issues being expressed phenotypically but with the onset of Artificial Insemination and unqualified people breeding quarter horses, the breed has become a biological disaster. To answer your question, educated breeders to not use inbreeding as you mentioned for obvious reasons.


Thanks!! I was aware of Impressive and the halter QHs that looked like they lifted weights but had tiny feet. As a kid I loved Arabians and noted how Bask became ubiquitous in so many lines. Seems like halter-type breeding without a true functional performance is just a recipe for disaster in any registry.

Thanks for noting that responsible breeders don’t use inbreeding like what I mentioned. I wasn’t sure if this was sort of popular or not in the QH world. I guess it all boils down to responsible breeders.

Have you seriously studied the foundation of the QH breed? Many of the foundation ranches relied heavily on line and inbreeding to set type. King Ranch immediately comes to mind. The Hancock horses were also heavily line bred along with the Weiscamp horses to name a few. What the current breeders are doing is pretty much following in the footsteps of the founders.

Yes out crosses were introduced to some programs, but often those were intercrossed depending on the success of the offspring.



Can I ask you about the original post? The Hancock lines date back to early 1900s. Yet the mare and her son show up ALL OVER 3/4 of this horse’s pedigree. His sire was bred to his mom, producing him. The dam’s dam line is very inbred as well.

How does this inbreeding “set type” without “setting genetic anomalies”? Our understanding of genetics is vastly improved from the 1920s-1950s (breeders likely knew nothing about genetics) and vastly improved from the 1950s to the 1990s. That type of inbreeding causes genetic issues that manifest in many ways. “setting type” by inbreeding is selecting for a certain type while ignoring other types that are genetically off the rails with phenotypes that are off the rails. Am I wrong?

Can you explain better? I may not be getting what you are trying to say.

Thank you!!!

When I was a young teen - a very long time ago - our farrier had supposedly worked at the King Ranch (he was an older man). I remember him telling me about their inbreeding and the need for ruthless culling.

He said something along the lines about the bottom 25% had issues that meant they were put down immediately – and people never heard about those – the next better 25% were culled as yearlings, next level up 25% were $$$$$ two year olds, and King Ranch kept the top 25% as their future world beaters and breeding stock.

Don’t know how accurate this story was, but his point was that they really were ruthless about culling.


If you mean me, I’ll do my best. Setting type as I’ve always understood it, is to breed a style of horse to suit your purpose and look you like. So they would cull what didn’t meet their ideal. Much like a lot of other breeds.

With the original QHs, after they became popular as more than just racehorses and became as much a ranch horse (though some were both, they started splitting out fairly early) many of the big breeders focused on a type depending on which part of the country they were in, hence the differences between some of the lines. Rugged terrain would call for a more rugged horse than flatter desert areas.

I’ve found the Hancock breeders seem to be pretty diehard about line breeding more than any other QH breeders. Percentages of “blood” seems to be pretty important to some of them.

Sorry if I’m rambling, I’m trying to watch my favorite show, contribute to a family chat and make sense her at the same time!


Thanks for your words!!!

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Glad I could help. Hancock horses are known as workers, not always warn and cuddly, known as being a bit broncy depending on the horse. If you have a happy one , it’s a good thing :wink::smile:

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Completely agree with you.

And you nailed the issue with line breeding, the lack of heavy culling. We see it in the beef breeds but there is a lack of “cajones” for doing so in horses. The proof is the puddin’.

After we had posted here a post came on a FB group about the colt sold at the Triangle sale for $65K, full sister bred to full brother.
No thanks, even if I was looking to out cross. And I love the breeding. Proven cutter, cow horse.

Someone mentioned halter horses but the Hancock breeders are just as bad or worse for not just line breeding but inbreeding.

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Let me reiterate that inbreeding and linebreeding are two different practices and with both practices you can cull all you want with regards to temperament and conformation but it will take years to learn what genetic disasters are being created by both practices. Culling does nothing to prevent inheritable health issues that result from linebreeding and inbreeding (HYPP, PSSM, HERDA). Im well versed on Weiscamp breeding, King Ranch, etc having purchased several fillies from Clayton Benker, who stood Skipster, a Weiscamp bred stallion. Weiscamp and King Ranch would inbreed, with limited use, primarily to use the resulting fillies in their broodmare bands, since the thought at the time was "If you got a superior individual from inbreeding, sire, to daughter, etc…then that filly/mare would reliably duplicate herself with each foal she produced. You did not see these inbred individuals offered to the public, but rather kept on their farms and used to achieve superior individuals produced by those particular breeders. Time showed that the inbred mares produced no more reliably that mares with a more diverse genetic background. King Ranch used,the same practices but you don’t see the practice used today. Linebreeding, however, has continued throughout AQHA’s 80 year history and the disaster is collapsing our breed into itself with no efforts to infuse hybrid vigor into our registry, nor to license breeders nor inspect breeding horses approved to breed. HERDA, HYPP, PSSM, these are all the direct result of constantly linebreeding horses like Impressive and Zippo Pine Bar, both descendants of Three Bars. AQHA should actually be called the registry of Three Bars descendants since that’s what it is. :frowning:

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