It is true that Joe Hancock first established his reputation on the short tracks, but his permanent fame was to come as a sire of using horses on the Burnett Estates. He lived out his life, shortened by an accident, on the Triangle Ranch. He was turned out each spring with a selected group of mares, most of them sired by the Burnett stallion Tom.
In July of 1941, while out in the pasture with his mares, he almost cut his front foot off on some loose wire. The ranch veterinarian was called, Dr. Phillip Smith of Abilene, and told to do anything he could to help the horse. Joe had been in the pasture with his mares for a day or two before the accident was discovered. It was two more days before Dr. Smith could come to see him. Screwworms and proud flesh had pretty well taken care of the foot.
Joe was loaded into a trailer by Dr. Smith and taken to Abilene so he could have constant attention. When the cut was about cured, he was returned to the ranch. By the following spring he was out in the pasture with his mares. Dr. Smith continued to make regular visits to check on Joe.
However, when things go wrong, they never seem to stop. In 1943 Joe Hancock foundered (laminitis), and his one good foot gave way. Joe was destroyed on July 29, 1943.
In the eyes of most cattlemen, the top horses are those natural cutting and roping animals. It seems they have to be born with this cow sense. No stallion had ever produced more top ranch and rodeo horses than old Joe Hancock. He was a strong-enough breeder so that even his sons and grandsons bred cow horses. John Burns, who managed the Burnett Estates during the Joe Hancock era, felt that the colts were good because they were fast.
Joe Hancock’s blood was popular all over, but especially so in Oklahoma, Texas, Arizona, and New Mexico. A few examples follow:
Red Man, owned by Kenneth Gunter of Benson, Ariz.; Joe Tom, owned by the Burnett Estates in Texas; Texas Tom, by Joe Tom, owned by Mrs. W.S. Fulton of Dragoon, Ariz.; War Chief and Little Joe the Wrangler, both owned by Elmer Hepler of Carlsbad, New Mexico.
Today, Joe Hancock’s blood is carried by literally hundreds of using horses across the United States. He should have been included in the list of foundation animals of the American Quarter Horse Association.
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