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POCO BUENO ~ AQHA # 3044 ~ 1944 Brown Stallion ~ King X Miss Taylor
Bred by Jess Hankins of Rocksprings, Texas Poco Bueno was foaled in 1944. He and his sire, King P-234, were destined to become one of the industry’s most famous father/son teams, standing in one-two order on the AQHA leading sires list in the 1950s. In retrospect, it’s difficult to tell where the greatness of one stopped and the greatness of the other began. Rather than establishing a definitive line of demarcation between themselves, they blended together in a virtually unequaled combination of siring superiority.
As his pedigree shows, Poco Bueno was out of Miss Taylor, a good producer, who was by a horse called Poco Bueno. Because this Poco Bueno was not registered, his grandson out of Miss Taylor could be registered with the same name.
Poco Bueno and King didn’t bear a striking physical resemblance to one another. The father was a blood bay while the son was a less glamorous brown (although he was sometimes described as a dark bay). But both had a great athletic ability. Put Poco Bueno in a cutting arena and he became a blur of lightning-fast speed. He could cut a rank cow from the herd and make it look oh so easy. He also had the gentleness of his sire.
Jess Hankins had two brothers, Lowell and J.O. Lowell recalls, “We used to hold our own Hankins auction sale in San Angelo, Texas. All we sold was our own stock. I can’t guarantee it, but I think ours was the second Quarter Horse sale in Texas.
“Anyway, back then, I had anywhere from 40 to 60 mares. J.O. always kept 30 to 40, and Jess had anywhere from 20 to 30. Based on those numbers, we could usually come up with 60 head or better for our sales.
“Of course, Jess had King then. J.O. had Joe Traveler, who was an own son of Little Joe, and I had Diamond Bob who was Champion Quarter Running Horse in ’49. Basically, though, all the stallions represented the same type bloodlines.
“We sold Poco Bueno as a long yearling and, even then, we had a pretty good idea of his quality. I can remember the day we loaded the sale horses. We put them on a 40-foot trailer and included King in the bunch. Naturally, we didn’t intend to sell him, but people always seemed to get a kick out of seeing him, so we’d bring him along to the sales.
“J.O. climbed up on the sideboards and looked down in the trailer. Poco Bueno happened to be standing right under his eyes. He took a long look at him and then hollered back at Jess, ‘Buddy, I think maybe you’re making a mistake selling this on.’
“There was a time when I had thoughts about buying Poco Bueno from Jess. He’d already talked with someone else about the colt, but I could have gotten him if I’d really tried. As it was, we took him to the sale.”
That sale was the first time Poco Bueno made headlines. He sold for $5,700, which was a rather outrageous price during that particular era – 1945. The brown colt was purchased by E. Paul Waggoner, who owned the famous Waggoner Ranch at Vernon, Texas. And that’s where the brown horse spent the rest of his life.
His show career got started early, when he was named champion yearling stallion at the Texas Cowboy Reunion Quarter Horse Show in Stamford.
He subsequently stood grand champion stallion at some of the county’s leading livestock shows in the ‘40s: Denver’s National Western Stock Show, the Southwestern Exposition and Fat Stock Show in Fort Worth, State Fair of Texas in Dallas, and the American Royal Livestock Show in Kansas City.
As a 4-year-old in 1948, Poco Bueno started his performance career as a cutting horse, and his amazing ability helped him to quickly acquire an impressive record – and a legion of fans.
Although Bob Burton started Poco Bueno under saddle, it was Pine Johnson who primarily showed him in cutting contests. When the brown colt arrived at the Waggoner Ranch, Fagan Miller was the ranch manager. He remembers that “a lot of people rode Poco Bueno in cutting until Pine Johnson went to work for Mr. Waggoner. From then on, it was Poco Bueno and Pine.” In fact their names almost became synonymous.
“To tell you the truth,” Miller continued, “Poco Bueno was the greatest horse I’ve ever been with, and I’ve been around a lot of them. He was easy to handle. Gentle. And smart. Nearly all his colts were the same way.”
According to Miller, Poco Bueno bordered on the unbelievable in the cutting arena. “That horse could jump backward almost as fast as he could jump forward. It took a real rider to stay with him, and he lost more than one.
“To my way of thinking, it was Poco Bueno who started the cutting horse business. Even after he was old and retired, people came from all over the country just to see him. I still have a lot of horses who trace to him, and I have two grandsons who sire as good a sons as Poco Bueno did. That’s what I call greatness that lasts.”
Like his sire, however, Poco Bueno’s popularity did decline somewhat for a few years when his old-fashioned Quarter Horse type took a back seat to the more Thoroughbred type. But, what goes around comes around – and when horsemen started looking for more working blood, especially with cow sense, the popularity of the Poco Buenos soared – and it’s still flying high.
In his heyday, the brown stallion was retired from the show ring and cutting pen at an early age because of the mares being booked to him. “He eventually commanded a stud fee of $5,000, which was the highest of any Quarter Horse of that time,” wrote Ray Davis (Western Horseman, February ’70). “He was also the first Quarter Horse to be insured for $100,000. His popularity created a ready market for his foals. Regardless of the mares to whom he was bred, his foals were uniform in appearance and performance ability.”
He sired numerous AQHA Champions – such as Poco Bob, Poco Dell, Poco Pine, Poco Lena, Poco Stampede, Poco Tivio, Poco Bow Tire, and Poco Champ, plus many others. A number of his sons went on to become great sires, as well. Of his daughters, the most famous was Poco Lena, foaled in 1949 out of Sheilwin. She became an AQHA Champion and one of the best cutting horse mares of all time. When she was retired for breeding, she produced Doc O’Lena and Dry Doc. Both were sired by Doc Bar, and both contributed tremendously to the cutting horse industry.
Margaret and Arnold Kontogeorge of Hanceville, Alabama are two more people who remember Poco Bueno. “Arnold and I went to work at Waggoner’s in 1966,” says Margaret. “All three of us – Arnold, me and Poco Bueno – were the same age. We were all born in ’44. At that time, we didn’t know how lucky we were to be there….to be part of Poco Buneo.
By 1966, Poco Bueno was retired and living at the Santa Rosa Roundup grounds. “It was part of the Waggoner Ranch,” explained Margaret. “The ranch itself was 500,000 acres, and Santa Rosa had show barns along with polo and rodeo grounds. It was eventually sold to the community of Vernon, but the ranch was like an entire city. It even had its own water system.”
Poco Bueno was given the run of Santa Rosa. He had his own pasture, but the gates were left open so the old stallion could come and go as he pleased. His stall was a large, round one, with heat lamps in the ceiling. Nothing was spared when it came to his comfort.
“He had arthritis pretty bad by then, “ continued Margaret, “and walked with most of his weight on his back feet. I can remember Fagan Miller calling him the ‘old man’. Arnold and I borrowed a camera so we could take pictures of Poco Bueno. We still have them.”
Margaret spent a lot of hours with Poco Bueno while Arnold went about his day’s chores. She would sit in the stallion’s stall, scratching him behind the ears while he laid his head in her lap. “He was like a big, gentle, affectionate dog,” she mused. “I never saw him act like what we think of as a typical stud. He stayed on the ranch until the day he died, and everyone made sure he never suffered.”
“Poco Bueno was born April 10, 1944,” said Fagan Miller. “He died November 28, 1969. Mr Waggoner had died 2 years earlier on March 3, 1967. We knew it was time to let Poco Bueno go when we had to start helping him up. Nobody wanted him to suffer, and Mr. Waggoner had left specific instructions about the horse in his will. He was to be buried in a standing position in a grave across from the ranch entrance on Highway 283. We lowered him into the ground with winches, and then packed dirt around him. That’s the way Mr. Waggoner wanted Poco Beuno to be left.”
The plot of ground was landscaped with trees and grass. A granite marker, weighing 4 tons, was engraved with his name, picture and the following: Champion and Sire of Champions.
Poco Bueno, like his sire, was special. He may not have been as royal-looking as King, but he commanded deep respect throughout the industry. Notice, if you will, that no one ever referred to the brown stallion by a nickname. He was never Pokey or Bueno. Then, and now, he was Poco Bueno.
Poco Bueno P-3044 (1944 - 1969)
AQHA Hall of Fame
Halter and Performance Record:
Owners of Record:
Poco Bueno was absolutely fabulous at cutting and working cows. He eventually commanded a $5,000 stud fee, which was the highest of any Quarter Horse of that time.
He died November 28, 1969 on the Waggoneer Ranch. He is buried standing position as instructed by the late Mr. Waggoneer. His grave is marked at the entrance of the ranch by a 4 ton granite marker bearing his name and image on Highway 283.
Halter and Performance
Stallion Show Record
Stallion Offspring Record