In retrospect, the wide variety of blending that’s so obvious in Two Eyed Jack’s pedigree is appropriate of the two men most closely connected with the stallion- Herman Mass and Howard Pitzer. Both believed in horses that were far more than “pretty faces.”
“My dad believed in horses who could do just about everything;’ noted Melinda. ” He was definitely involved in racing. He had Quin Hancock (by Buck Hancock and out of Triangle Tookie) who was once named grand champion gelding at the Jefferson County Fair in Wisconsin. The day he received his grand champion title, he won the 440-yard dash that night. I was sitting next to one of the judges during the race. He watched Quin Hancock cross the finish line and asked, “Isn’t that my grand champion gelding?”
The name Two Eyed Jack is most closely associated with Howard Pitzer, but there is an earlier beginning to the story. It actually started when Mass and John Bowling set forth on one of their horse-buying expeditions “out West.” One of the places they wound up was at Jack Schwabacher’s ranch in San Juan Bautista, California. That’s where they first saw the 5-day-old Two D Two. That was 1957. Melinda was 10. Her father bought the baby colt on the spot, paying $500 for him.
“He was still on his mama,” explained Melinda. “Dad returned for him later because he didn’t want his dam, Double Life. I remember Dad used to joke and say he paid $100 for every day Two D Two had been alive.
“Why did he buy him? The same reason he bought his other horses. He said he could look at him, even at 5 days, and tell what he would be by the angle of his hip, the slope of his shoulder, the length of his back. Dad swore he would be a great horse one day and he was right. We showed him all over the country as a yearling. We were living in Algonquin, Ill., at the time, and I was the one who wound up making him an AQHA Champion.”
According to Melinda, it was common for her father to take off on horse buying trips and return with boxcar loads of stock. He kept most of the ones he bought.
“Dad was never a stranger to horses,” laughed Melinda. “He was born in 1903. He rode a mule 7 miles to school, and he drove a team to the local dance halls. That’s how he courted my mother. He raised registered Angus cattle, and he decided his horses would also be registered stock. I was 5 when he first made his decision.
“That’s about the time he bought two registered horses named Cindy Hancock and Jake’s Hancock for my brother and sister. As I said, I was only 5, so I was given a grade horse.”
Mass also purchased Triangle Tookie. The mare produced Quin Hancock, and Mass felt sure she’d be a good cross with Two D Two. He was correct, of course, since that combination produced Two Eyed Jack, Tookie’s Two (AQHA high point reining horse of 1967), and Triangle Queen (Superior halter mare). All three became AQHA Champions, with Jack going on to carve his own special niche within the industry.
“We showed Jack as a weanling,” continued Melinda, “at the Illinois State Fair where he won his class as well as the Governor’s Trophy. He was the only weanling with that particular achievement. We sold him as a 2-year-old at a good price.” That was in 1963 and it was also about the time the paths of Two Eyed Jack, Two D Two, Mass, and Pitzer became forever entwined.
Pitzer wanted Two D Two, but as things turned out, he acquired Two Eyed Jack first. The sorrel stallion was sold in 1963 as a 2-year-old to E. C. Coppola of Iowa. Approximately 4 months later, Coppola sold the colt to Joe Lindholm of Audubon, Iowa. By that time, Jack had already accumulated a long list of grand championships.
From this point forward, the story becomes one of horse-trading between horsemen, of selling and buying and swapping, of dickering and negotiating and trading.
Pitzer never lost sight of Jack. He and Jack’s connections faced one another in show rings across the country. Pitzer kept casting his trained eye at the sorrel stallion. He watched the young horse grow and develop. By the time Jack was a 3-year-old, Pitzer was convinced he was one of the finest horses he’d ever seen.
“We were at a show at Burwell, Neb.,” recalled Pitzer, who lives in Ericson, Nebraska. “Jack was there, too. He was a 3-year-old at the time and owned by Lindholm. Joe’s trainer was thinking about quitting, so I told Joe to give Jack to us and we’d show him. Well, Joe was the type person you didn’t make an offer to unless you were ready to back it up. He said okay, and that’s when we started our trading. It would end up with my owning one-half of Jack.”
According to AQHA records, the transfer of ownership was made official on August 20, 1964, when Jack’s papers were recorded in the names of Joe Lindholm and Howard Pitzer.