Hancock Horses

I have found over the years with quarter horses, if there is a name in the pedigree that people think is recognizable, they will use it to name a horse, even if it is generations far, far back.

I dropped a horse with the trainer we use the other day, and he has a Hancock horse that our vet bred. Our vet actually has a large breeding herd featuring Hancock bloodlines. This particular horse was wide bodied, with huge feet and tons of bone in his legs. He had the framework to support his body.

The trainer said he is very good minded. He also said the vet had a stud that produced offspring that displayed some of the negative Hancock traits, but that stud was culled very quickly.

The trainer said he likes the Hancocks. They hold up well and they like to work. But, he also said they are not for everyone!

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I have a Hancock bred mare, although as mentioned in a couple of posts, Joe Hancock is way way back. She is a saint, carries a grandmother around (me), and more than a few grandkids. She is a do anything sort, and unfortunately she has small feet, although she has always been sound. She is truly one of the best horses I have ever had, and that covers a lot of ground.


My Hancock is often mistaken for a Morgan . . .beautiful head . . .


Hancocks are great WORKING horses.

Hancocks were developed in the days when riders were not weekend warriors and cowboys weren’t just dudes who wore a cowboy hat, square toed boots and drove a Cummins.
A working horse was expected to WORK for 8 hours (or more) straight , stay sound , stay focused , stay safe, be bold, and hold athleticism at your fingertips throughout that long working day.
And a cowboy was a professional rider who could ride and train a gritty, smart, bold , incredibly strong minded and powerful horse.

Sadly , most of those “jobs” that a Hancock filled are now replaced by machines.
And Cowboys have been replaced by something out of a Florida Georgia Line song.

But good old Hancocks haven’t changed. They’re still good horses that need a job and a skilled rider .

Nowadays one of the most popular uses for old school Hancock and Blue Valentine blood is in bucking stock. Just look at all the roans that come out in your next rodeo :wink:


Well, I was drawn to color and only read about Hancock post purchase. That might not have been my smartest move. I bought him from a flipper, so his history isn’t known, but he was advertised as a 12 year old roper. I am not, so I have never tested that skill.

Our first year was rough. He nipped, ear-shy, pulled back, not affectionate. He was safe in that he didn’t buck, but if there were a loose horse he went up in front. And if he decided he didn’t want to do something, he was stubborn. He wasn’t spooky, but boy, he remembered where you used a whip on him and sped by that spot each time.

He definitely needed a job more than I was providing, and I (F65) had more horse than I needed. So he went into training with my friends… for dressage. Training helped a lot. He had a job. Ignoring his bad habits meant they improved. No longer ear-shy, no longer pulls back, no more nipping. He still (3 years later) isn’t the most affectionate, but loves the vet, nickers to see me, and comes when called.

He is the steadiest of all the dressage horses in the barn. Not afraid of anything. Dogs, tractors, blowing tarps, other horses riding at him in a crowded arena, nada. I am not near any trails now, but when I was, he took it all in – rode out alone, with others, etc.

I am not a show person, the photos are of my trainer. We entered him in Training Level classes and he took two blues, lol!

I think his issues were somehow tied to his life before me. I like his matter-of-factness. No hothouse flower. I would like another hancock, but I would be more careful of knowing their history. My guy is fairly inbred (registered name is Dusty Blue Dot). The suggestion of Peptoboomsmal is a good one.


Beautiful horse!

Hancock bred horses, today inbred ones, do have many of Hancocks traits, is what breeders bred for, no surprise.
The ones true to those traits are real workhorses, excellent to have under you when things get tough, but not given to being very friendly, more the stick in the mud, dry humor type.
They take life and work and just everything seriously, want to have a task and someone that will stick with it, no lollligagging around.

If you are a more serious person and like to hold high standards and stick with the plan, you will get along with them fabulously.
If you want a pet along with a horse you can do things with, that chills out and smiles and likes hanging out after work, that is just not what they really want to do with their time, but will do it if you insist, for a bit.

In a way they tend to have a similar temperament as heeler dogs, a little on the serious side, takes a serious minded person to get along with those.

Where life is more tough, human and their animal helpers part of your work, that work hard and takes all your days, who best to have with you than those that also thrive with that kind of life?

If you measure your time and have a more balanced use of it, getting things done but also time to relax and fool around, then you need a type helper that will not take life quite so seriously.

Of course, how you raise any and life experiences will moderate or enhance any traits, along with what else is there, other breeding helping tone down the more salient breed traits.

Many old time breeder of ranch horses like to keep the stronger Hancock traits but crossed with Driftwood ones toning them down some, producing if all went well a more amenable, less demanding horse to handle, ride and live with.

Still, every horse is an individual.
Thru breeding we try to repeat the traits we are looking for.
If those are expressed and how strongly and what other are in the mix is still up to luck, genetic lottery, each one individual it’s unique blend.

Humans live and thrive by looking for patterns in everything, is how we navigate our world, including what all goes into the horse we have.
Still, is best to keep in mind that we will be surprised both ways, when we find what we expect given a breeding behind a horse and when new traits surface.
With Hancock bred horses, their traits seem to be dominant, easier to count on them in horses bred like them.


No such thing as good color on a bad horse and bad color on a good horse. The few Hancock’s that I know of are nasty buckers. IMO more of a heavy using cowboys horse. We tend to avoid them. We actually did just end up with a nice roan and I just asked the gal his breeding. He’s heavier built. A little big/long. He’s been very level headed so far.

I also really like my Storm Cat off spring. I find my one to be a little stuck in the brain. I also have another Storm Cat top/bottom that is opposite. Easiest horse I’ve had (minus being a hard keeper)

I had a roan paint with strong Hancock line breeding. He was an unpredictable bucker and it seemed to be behavioral not physical (at least based on various vet checks and exams). I got tired of hitting the ground and sold him to a local roper that wanted a pack horse, which he seemed happy to do. Of course, the same guy later decided to make him a head horse, was bucked off several times, broke his shoulder, and eventually passed him on again. I lost track of him after that.

In hindsight I didn’t know what I didn’t know then and I’ve often wondered if he had kissing spines. Pretty horse tho… :roll_eyes:

He does look like a horse with a serious mind. He looks great and well taken care of.
Well done you, for providing him with the physical and mental work that he wants and needs. :+1:


I rode a Skipper W/Hancock gelding back in the 80s, a good minded, stout, sure little horse…but it was clear if you pricked with him he’d bury your ass :wink:



I had a little Eddie Red Rose on top and way back on the bottom Hancock horse.
He was really nice, but both sides were known for not taking a joke easily and being able to buck with the best.
He was my main cow horse for some years when one winter some horses needed to be sold and a friend asked about him for his nephew.
The boy was seven and kind of shy and very quiet around horses and was starting to breakaway rope in the arena.
I let him take the horse to try him and warned him, he has never put a foot wrong, but he is not going to be happy if he feels someone is not fair to him.

Well, next spring horse was 13, kid turned 8 and I kept getting all sorts of messages how he loved the horses and was making a hand branding cattle and shipping winter cattle on that horse he cared for so well.
Kid kept growing and in the summer his mother was helping him to compete and thought horse was not really coming out of the box fast enough, boy should get after the horse.
Kid refused, kept letting the horse do his job, mother decided she “tune up” horse, got on and coming out of the box “over and under” him with her rope.
Horse took a couple jumps and lawn darted her right there.
As I was told, kid ran to them crying, mother was thinking he is worried I may be hurt, kid ran past her and was hugging horse and crying and asking horse “did mom hurt you?” over and over.
Kid had his priorities straight.
She said she could not get up for a bit, she was laughing so hard. :rofl:

Horses bred like that have a very clear idea of what is right and fair and don’t mind taking it on themselves to educate those that step over those important respect lines.


I have a Hancock/Blue Valentine mare that I successfully show Western Dressage. To be fair, Joe Hancock is 7 generations back top and bottom so not sure how much influence he has on this particular horse outside of color.
Would I call her “tough”? I don’t know. My trainer calls her a princess because she prefers things “just so”; you don’t ask correctly, you’re not getting it.
She is stoic, not particularly affectionate, and prefers her own company to that of other horses (except when she’s in heat; then she loves ALL the other horses). She is smart and prefers pattern work (trail classes, horsemanship, dressage, etc.) to just going around the ring. She has never offered to buck, bolt, or rear. She has a great work ethic. She can be hyper-vigilant, especially at shows, but is absolutely all business when the judge rings the bell for our test to begin.
I have a friend with a “Hancock horse” that qualified for Regionals in Western Dressage that is of similar personality, but, as with everything else, YMMV.


I’m going to preface this by saying… I’m not advocating for getting one because whoooooeeeeee… they’re definitely an acquired taste… and the few I know are complicated, hot, and can buck like nobody’s business…

But I also know of a couple of them absolutely moving up the levels and kicking butt in Western Dressage/regular dressage right now. :wink:


There’s horses that will defy the norms for sure. But I like to increase the odds by matching intended disciplines with horses that are generally well suited for the job. :wink:


You know I love your horse😏

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My first year I tested for PSSM because I was so baffled by him and thought that might be the reason.

Not him, but I have read there are some bloodlines affected, and less scrupulous breeders take advantage of the color appeal and breed anyway. I am on several breeder pages and I think they go to great lengths to ensure their get is 5 or 6 panel clean.

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@RojoValentine I love the Ruano Rojo lines – I take it you have that based upon your user name!

My guy is a bit looky at new things, too. My biggest concern is rearing. It is rare – once a year – and always in hand after a cold, rainy, confined period and usually prompted by other horses acting up. Understandable perhaps, but none-the-less, not wanted. He doesn’t crow up. For a big, stocky guy he can stand “hi-ho silver” stand up.


Thank-you! I love him too. I especially love how he has come around. Not many people have the time and persistence to put three years in. And believe me, that first year I thought of moving him along to a better home almost every month.

I still would been better with a different horse, but this guy has taught me a lot. Like @Bluey said, he knows what is fair, and he remembers if you treat him wrong. You definitely don’t argue with him.

The first day I got him, my dressage trainer friend offered to ride him first – she was pushing him, and I had to remind her that he wasn’t a dressage horse and as far as I knew, he knew nothing – but still she insisted he listen up.

He did not buck. He did not rear. When he had enough, he laid down with her aboard.
(I had to admire that thoughtful technique, lol)


The descriptions here are all about their bad traits – and those bad traits happen, I believe, based upon how they are handled. If they are cowboyed, they act pretty cowboy, as that is what they learned.

But if you go to any of the Blue Valentine/Hancock FB pages, you will see an entirely different side. Most of those owners bought their hancocks as youngsters, and they have become family horses, grandkid baby-sitters, rodeo queen mounts, etc. And most of those owners seem to live on ranches, not in suburbia with limited horse-keeping space.

I think my main take-away is that they are smart, don’t argue with them, show them and once they learn it they don’t forget, and give them a job. And although I have always heard their reputation for bucking, I actually don’t know any owners (on FB) that raise bucking stock or even have a bucker.

As someone mentioned, they are definitely an acquired taste.

(I have never done western dressage, but maybe I should look into that!)

To get that color, there is a lot of line-breeding (or inbreeding if you don’t like the resultant traits,lol), so those that are crossed outside of hancock for a more refined look and still have the color are a good mix (to me).