Ranch Horses

The Story Behind Doc Bar

One of the most prolific sires of the cutting horse industry. 

One of the most prolific sires of the cutting horse industry, Doc Bar, comes from an impressive line of champions.
This picture of Doc Bar was taken in March 1977 when he was 21 years old. Photo by David Brown.

This writer feels that Doc Bar’s conformation, cow sense, and cutting horse ability came from his dam.

Anyone with even a remote interest in the Quarter Horse world will recognize the name Doc Bar, for never has there been such a prolific sire of cutting horses. His influence is also felt in the world of cow horses and reining horses, but it is in cutting where he reigned supreme–and still does through his many sons that have become great sires.

Now 30 years old, Doc Bar still lives on the Double J Ranch of his owners, Dr. and Mrs. Stephen Jensen. The ranch is in California, near the town of Paicines, about 45 miles south of Hollister. The ranch is managed by Charlie Ward and his wife Stephenie, a daughter of the Jensens.

As the accompanying pedigree shows, Doc Bar was sired by Lightning Bar a son of Three Bars (TB), one of the great sires of racing Quarter Horses. Doc Bar was out of Dandy Doll, by Texas Dandy, and the aim of this article is to explain why I feel that so much of Doc Bar’s cow sense and agility came from the distaff side of his pedigree. 

DB pedigree

My first view of Doc Bar was all it took to sell me on him, as he was physically everything I like in a Quarter Horse. Anyone who has roped a calf would admire his height – 14.3 hands. On such a horse you can step off to tie without wrecking a knee. His 1,000- pound weight was adequate to trip most any steer on which you have dropped a rope. Early in his life, he showed that he had enough speed to catch a calf or steer without using up the whole arena. He was deep through the heart, clean in the throatlatch, had little fox ears, and a beautiful head that he probably inherited from his dam’s sire, Texas Dandy. Look at Texas Dandy’s picture accompanying this article and see what you think. Doc’s britches were impressive, well-muscled inside and out down to the hocks. His action was true and straight, and he had two of the best hind legs you ever saw on a horse.

This story should probably start with Sidney Vail and Three Bars (TB). Sid is running Thoroughbreds today and lives at Temecula, California. However, he cut his teeth on Quarter Horses. His first close contact with horses came in the 1930s when he was packing for the government in Montana. When Quarter Horses became popular he was living in Colorado, and he bought the good horse Bear Hug.

In 1939 Vail took Bear Hug to Caliente and bred him to ten Thoroughbred mares. He did not cross well on Thoroughbreds, so after three or four years, Sid went to Hayden, Colo., and bought some mares from Coke Roberds and Marshall Peavy. With these mares he began to get some colts that suited him.

Some time later a friend suggested that Sidney take his Bear Hug mares to Three Bars. Three Bars was making quite a splash at Mel Haskell’s Rillito racetrack in Tucson. Sid fell in love with Three Bars, a five-year-old at the time. He had a little trouble buying him, but he got the job done and loaded him up and drove out to his ranch near Douglas, Arizona.

Sid said Three Bars was a picture horse, and if it wasn’t for his clubfoot on the right front, he couldn’t have faulted him in any way.

One day while Vail was talking to Cal Kennedy, Cal asked him whether he planned to breed Three Bars to Thoroughbreds or Quarter Horses. Sid said he planned to breed him to some of each. Cal told him that he did not think Three Bars would make a good Thoroughbred sire, because he was only a five-furlong horse. But any stud that can run all out for five furlongs will make a good Quarter Horse sire, Cal said. If he can run six or more, he will be a good Thoroughbred sire.

Sidney told me that he always remembered what Kennedy had said because Three Bars never did get any class Thoroughbreds, but all of his colts could run 350, 400, or 440 yards in any company.

One day Sidney and I were discussing Doc Bar’s great ability to produce cutting horses. He said that he had kept Three Bars in a corral with his roping calves and that when the horse did not have anything else to do, he would cut out a calf and dodge him around. He added that he brought home all of Three Bars’ colts that could not run to win and started roping on them. He said they all had enough sense to follow a calf.

Three Bars’ dam, Myrtle Dee, was a sprinter and set a track record at Coney Island, New York. Vail gives her the credit for Three Bars’ early speed, especially since Three Bars’ sire, Percentage, could run a mile and a sixteenth.

One of the most prolific sires of the cutting horse industry, Doc Bar, comes from an impressive line of champions.
A 1955 picture of Lightning Bar, the sire of Doc Bar, and owner Art Pollard of Tucson.

This writer personally feels that Doc Bars’ conformation, cow sense, and cutting horse agility came from his dam, because his sire, Lightning Bar, never produced another son or daughter that remotely approached the excellence of Doc Bar. Too often the influence of the dam is overlooked when discussing horses, and only the sire is given credit. One of the few exceptions to this line of reasoning is Walter Merrick. He has said that the dam is more important than the sire, because she carries the foal until he is dropped, and then is his constant companion for six or seven months of his first year.

The dam of Doc Bar was sired by Texas Dandy, and she was bred and owned by Tom Finley of Gilbert, Arizona. I first met Tom 40-odd years ago, “and we have been friends ever since. It was in 1946 that Tom and his brother drove from Arizona to Texas to buy Texas Dandy.

He was a sorrel stallion foaled in 1942, and his sire was My Texas Dandy, who was the sire of some of the best-known Quarter Horses of that day: Clabber, Colonel Clyde, Captain White Sox, Free Silver, Golden Slippers, and Texas Star, to name a few. Will Northington had bought Texas Dandy from R.C. Tatum of Junction, Tex., when he was a coming two. Texas Dandy’s dam was the good mare Streak, by Lone Star. Streak’s dam was by Cap, a Rondo horse.

Texas Dandy had everything one would want to see in a Quarter Horse. He stood just 15 hands and weighed 1,200 pounds. He had almost a classic head, a full blaze, little fox ears, and like so many My Texas Dandys, a sock on his hind leg. He was beautifully muscled, but had style and refinement to spare.

When Tom Finley and his brother purchased Texas Dandy, they were ranching near Gilbert, Arizona. Their headquarters were only about a half-mile from Ab Nichols’ place. Nichols and his two sons were Quarter Horse men from who laid the chunk. They would bet that they could rope, cut, or run better and faster on their horses than you could on any of your horses, or any that you could borrow. If you took them up, you sure had better be ready, because they didn’t have any idea of losing, and they seldom did. Most of their horses carried the blood of My Texas Dandy. Nichols bought Clabber, a son of My Texas Dandy, in Big Foot, Tex., in 1938.

One of the most prolific sires of the cutting horse industry, Doc Bar, comes from an impressive line of champions.
Texas Dandy, by My Texas Dandy, sired Dandy Doll, the dam of Doc Bar. Photo by Richard Shaus

They liked Clabber so well they bought more and soon had Colonel Clyde, Lucky, Gotch, and the great mare Blue Bonnet. They would work their horses on the ranch all week, breed any mares brought for that purpose, and then take one or two to any nearby rodeo or race meet on Sunday. When Clabber took off after a calf or a steer, it looked like they were running in deep sand, he caught up with them so fast. He had enough speed to be named Quarter Running Horse of the Year in 1941.

The Finleys were impressed by the My Texas Dandy horses that the Nicholses were riding. When they heard in 1946 that Texas Dandy, by My Texas Dandy, would be offered at a sale in Texas, they decided to go there and try to buy him. Let’s take up the rest of this part of the article in Tom’s own words.

My brother and I saw this ad, that they were dispersing their horses. We were shipping cattle from Dragoon at the time. After we finished shipping that evening pretty late, Jack and I jumped into the horse trough, washed off, and got into the pickup with the trailer and pulled out. We drove all night and the next day till we got to Wharton. The sale was to be held at 1 p.m. on September 30. That was in 1946.

We left here with the idea that we could buy about as good a stud as there was anywhere for $2,500. That was a lot of money in those days. When we came home with him, after paying $5,250, the closer we got to the ranch the slower we drove. We pulled in about 5:30 in the morning. Dad had just saddled up to go out and he saw us coming up the road so he waited for us.

He saw we had a horse in the trailer and he asked, “Well, did you buy him?”

“Yes we bought him.”

He asked how much we had to pay for him. We did not answer. We unloaded to let him see Texas Dandy. By the time we got him unloaded and he had had a chance to look at him, we said we gave $5,250 for him.

He asked, “How many did you get?” We said that that was all there was, just one. He said that was too much to give for one horse, but he looks good, and the way he is bred, he has to be a good horse. We did not think we were gambling in the dark, because we knew so many of the horses half brothers and sisters.

We were never sorry we bought the horse. He lived to be 28 or 29 years old and he died in his sleep. We stood him at first for $100 and we paid for him the second season.

The dam of Doc Bar was a Texas Dandy mare by the name of Dandy Doll. Finley told me she had a burst of speed at short distances, and like all the other Texas Dandys, had cow sense. Doll was out of a Bartender II mare, who was in turn out of a Red Joe of Arizona mare. Any way you look at it, the distaff side of Doc Bar was full of Quarter Horses, just as his sire carried a lot of Thoroughbred blood.

Tom showed Doc Bar some and ran him a little, but his lasting fame was not destined to be on the short track. His superb conformation caught the eye of one of the best horsemen California ever produced, Charley Araujo. Charley asked Tom to let him have Doc Bar. Tom showed Doc Bar at Tucson when he was a three-year-old, and then let Charley take him to California, to show and to breed. Charley had Doc Bar then until he was sold to Jensen.

Doc Bar was a throwback to the old bulldog, Steeldust type that the founders of the Quarter Horse association loved and wanted to breed. He was of the ilk of Joe Bailey, Red Dog, Poco Bueno, and Little Joe Jr. He, like they, had it all.

When Tom sold Doc Bar he was smart enough to reserve two breedings a year. According to Tom, Doc Bar proved to be such a great sire ” he changed the breeding programs and conformation classes all over the West Coast.” That is undoubtedly true, but what he gave to the cutting horse, nationwide, was a much greater gift.
Without a doubt, Doc Bar has been the greatest sire of cutting horses that ever lived. His prepotency was so great that even his sons and grandsons produce cutting horses.

* Doc Bar died in 1992 and was buried on the Jensen/Ward Doc Bar Ranch in Paicines, California.

This article was originally published in the July 1986 issue of Western Horseman.

21 thoughts on “The Story Behind Doc Bar”

  1. Hi! I used to own a Doc Bar line quarter horse 24 years ago. He was bred for cutten horse but He was my pleasure riding horse. He had the best disposition and nature. He was laid back in nature and loving horse. Great blood line going back to Doc Bar. His papered name was Scripture’s Dream. He was built beautiful proptiate. Pretty head and built all around. Beautiful red sorrel with one white sock. And and star, strip and snip on his front face.

  2. I was honered to have owned Candy Bar who was a Doc Bar decedent and the best horse I ever owned. Her colts were very intelligent and had such loving dispositions. Lot of pics with my children on them. Candy was an amazing cutting horse!

  3. I own a great great great grandson of Doc Bar here in Australia. I was also fortunate to own his dad by the name of Cracker Jack Morn and won many shows under halter when he was younger. Sadly we lost him when he was about 17 years old to what we think was a snake bite. His son we called Whispering Jack and is just such a beautiful horse……..

    • 40 years ago, I purchased Dee Bar Centivio in 1978 , 2 year s old. He was Doc Dee Bar ‘s first son, Dr. Jensen came to our small ranch in the Bay Area for a visit and to see a grandson of Doc Bar. It was a honor.

      • my mom susan hay owned chic pan bar of three bars lil pan peg was his mother and grandfather was doc bar chic pan bar use to race 3 out of 4 races 4th he shin bucked his back leg so he got put to pasture and my mom bought him he lived till he was 25 yrs old a full life he was buitiful all black thourbred with a white star blaze great blood lines for raceing

    • Hello, I live in germany and I own a doc bar granddaughter out of a little peppy mare. her name is candy dandy doll and i am so happy that she is pregnant for 2021 . i breed her to an metallic cat son and can not wait to see her foal next year.
      i love her . she is very good minded and she is a great cowhorse.

  4. I have had doc bar line horses for years my foundation stallion was a docs weekend remedy son paint threw great color hot the ground very cowy and awesome to work with simply the best????

  5. I owned and showed Jim Bar Lee out of Doc Bar and Nancy Lee Lauro in 1974-75. We won Intermediate Champion English Horseman and went to State where we won Western Pleasure. I didn’t cut with him but he went on to win cutting and reining competitions with Tommy Manion. Miss him. A little spooky but a great horse. Sadly, I lost all photos of him in the Almeda Fire last year when my home burned down.

  6. I own one of dark bars great great grandsons. I call him Doc. The gentleman Rancher that I bought him from Derek Tooley trained him very well and I could tell loved him very much. Today Doc makes every one of my days that I’m with him so much brighter. Dark has got to be the smartest horse I’ve ever seen. It’s a matter of fact. Derek I’d given him that name of Smarty. I’m extremely grateful thank you Jesus for allowing me the opportunity to buy this horse and good friend, my best friend Doc.

  7. Wonderful article! My first show quarter horse was Miss Bewitched from 1978 to 1990. I showed her son Docs BJ Bar at Pomona Fair Grounds National AQHA All Around 3 day show. BJ was a cutting horse from my g parents ranch and when i asked if i could show him in my last year of Youth Aqha catergory in english and western, they giggled and said, well, hes a cuttin horse, but if you really want to, okay. I practiced very hard for 5 months. Tim Smith, Cutting Horse trainer from chino ca was the live on horse trainer for our Ranch. He saw me working that cow horse over Hunter Hack fences and riding BJ with my english saddle and high black boots and shook his head at us every songle morning when i passed the cow arena and went down to the big arena where i set up cones for western riding, bridges for trail class and even one oxer fence for show jumping. I reserved the very last 2 stalls at pomona that were left. Lol it was so far away from the arena it seemed like. I was happy to have those stalls. English Pleasure Open for Greenbroke horses and non professional riders was my first classes of the show. I remember asking my g ma if i could pull BJ’s very long mane that swayed below his neck for the horseshow and she said, no. Haha! I spent 2 hours braiding and tucking and tying that mane until it was chip chip cheerio ready for english riding. My fingers were fat with muscles after that. Giggles. Our first class had 32 or 33 entries. It was packed! BJ and I placed 3rd. By far, the most memorable award I ever had so far in my lifetime, even until today. It was so unbelievable to my g parents, my cutting trainer, tim smith and even pacific coast quarter horse show association followed my horse i all the way back to our stall by the cars to get a drug test sample from BJ. The first time you are asked for a test sample is a badge of honor at any horseshow really and i got mine from BJ that day. I loved that horse and Ive never been more proud i dont think than i was at the end of that day when i rode BJ for the very last time, to the pomona fair grounds wash racks, bareback and only halter and leadrope and carrying my wash bucket on my arm. Doc Bar, thank you for making that happen. Gretchen Dupree

  8. I own a Doc Bar horse and have for 15 years. He was sold to me cheap. Everyone thought he would be another Doc Bar or Sweet Little Lena because of his build and looks. A top cutting horse school sold him to me with the words, “He can do anything he wants to. He is very smart, has great strength and learns fast. He can go to the top of this competition .. but he wont.” He is the strongest alpha horse I have ever seen, and only does what he wants to, and when he wants to do it. I was getting a little older myself and decided this boy would be fun. I think God gave me to this horse because most other riders would have killed him. He was not quite 4, and he really loved me from the first day we met. I took him to some “great” trainers who knew more than God about horses, and they wanted me to shoot him. I turned him over to my wife, who is more demanding than me, and she has taught him to be nice. I have had him 15 years and I could not have enjoyed an animal more. I am 83 now, and still ride that rascal. Some days he even lets me be the boss.

  9. It has been a pleasure to ride a horse named Canelo Rojo out of Susie Glow by Fox Easter who is by Doc Olena and Ebony Fox by Doc Bar and Poco Lena. He has 13 AQHA Hall of Fame horses in his breeding.
    I had no idea until tonight to the extent of his bloodlines. He was a smart horse, loving, great with children and loved by everyone. I was only a pleasure rider for 40 years and he was best horse I ever had. I’m in the Toronto, Ontario, Canada area and we have amazing forests to ride in 45 minutes north of Toronto and spent hours having a ball in the forests. I road outside at night with a breast collar light attached to it with reflectors. No matter what we came upon he didn’t flinch or make a wrong move ever. I even rode him in the city’s park systems a few times after trailering him down to the city. He was a show horse for Western and English pleasure riding and equitation before I got him and retired him from showing to just be a horse. I was at a horse show as a companion for another western rider and because is a flashy red roan I had some people come up and ask if this was Bubb (his barn name) and I said yes it. They were one of the trainers of him when he came to Canada and wanted to buy him back. I said No sorry, he’s not for sale. We were together for almost 30 years and sadly had to be put down in 2007. It’s been a while but the memories are endless. I entered his name tonight and picture into the All Pedigree online to complete his pedigree for eternity. Lynne


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