KING ~ AQHA # P-234 ~ 1932 Bay Stallion ~ Zantanon x Jabalina 

Once proclaimed as the greatest horse of his time, King has become one of the American Quarter Horse industry's cornerstones. While he never won any performance points, King established a dynasty. He sired 20 AQHA Champions, 84 Performance Registers of Merit, 12 Racing Registers of Merit, three Superior Halter Award winners and 10 Superior Performance Award winners. At the time that King was born, there wasn't an American Quarter Horse Association. However, his conformation would later set the standard for American Quarter Horse judging for more than a decade. King died of a heart attack in 1958 but even now, the American Quarter Horse industry is influenced by third, fourth and fifth generation King-bred horses.

KING P-234  1932-1958

Breeder: Manuel Benavides Volpe of Laredo, Texas

  • Sire: Zantanon

  • Dam: Jabalina

  • Blood Bay, 15 hands, about 1200 pounds

Owners of Record:

  • 1932 - Charles Alexander of Laredo for $150

  • 1933 - Byrne James, a professional baseball player, of Encinal, Texas, for $300.  Mrs. James changed his name to King.  James used him for ranch work

  • 1936 - Winn Dubose of Uvalde, TX for $500, used him extensively for calf roping and began standing him for a $10 stud fee.

  • 1937 - Jess Hankins of Rocksprings, TX, for $800, stood King at stud initially for $15, then $25 the following year, the $50 the next, then $100, ultimately for $500 whereas he turned away as many as 80 mares one season.

Regarded as very gentle, King died of a heart attack on March 24, 1958.  He is buried at the Hankins Ranch in Rocksprings, Texas.

King produced some of the finest roping, reining and cutting horses of his time. His descendants carry on the tradition.

King is the sire of Poco Bueno, born in 1944.


KING P-234 Probably no American Quarter Horse is considered a cornerstone of the breed any more than King.

There was no AQHA when King was born in 1932, and it would be almost ten years until it was formed.

That a horse, born so long before the association that he helped become the largest registry in the world was formed, could have such an impact, is testimony to his greatness.

Kings bloodlines trace to some of the truly great pre AQHA quarter horses. Double bred Traveler, as well as single lines to Sykes Rondo, Billy, and Yellow Jacket, not only gave him regal parentage, but also combined in that once in a lifetime gene mix, that happens to be just right.

The sire of King was a hardknocking match race horse, named Zantanon. Known as the Mexican Man o'War, his sire, was a legend himself, and renowned for his ability to run, even under the worst of Conditions.

Originally named Buttons by his breeder, Manuel Benavides Volpe, of Laredo Texas, King became royalty when his name was changed to King when owned by Byrne James of Encinal Texas, who played professional baseball for the NY Giants. Certainly the second name was a better fit

When Jess Hankins bought the colt in 1937, for $800, the folks in Rocksprings thought he had grossly overpaid for King. However, by the time 1940 rolled around, and the young stallion had a few foals on the ground, everyone began to realize that Hankins had made a shrewd buy.

Probably no foundation sire put more atheletic ability and cow, in his offspring, as evidenced by the popularity of his great sons, such as Poco Bueno,Royal King, Continental King, and Power Command.

King died in 1958, at the age of 26. He left a legacy of 658 foals, born over 23 crop years, and made an imprint on the Quarter Horse industry that will be never forgotten.



KING ~ 1932 AQHA Bay Stallion

Zantanon X Jabalina

Hall of Fame, '89 AQHA


AQHA Champions: 20                           Performance ROM's: 84
Foal Crops: 23                                         Race Money Earned: $5,967
Foals Registered: 658                           Race ROM's: 12
Halter-Point Earners: 104                    Race Starters: 35
Halter Points Earned: 1,088                Superior Halter Awards: 3
Performance-Point Earners: 106       Superior Performance Awards: 10
Performance Points Earned: 2,030
Hall of Fame Offspring: Poco Bueno (AQHA), Royal King (AQHA), Continental King (NRHA)


Asbeck's Billie -- 4th - 1958 NCHA World Champion

Fred B Clymer -- 6th - 1966 NCHA World Champion

KING'S PISTOL -- 1957 NCHA World Champion

Royal King -- 3rd - 1952 NCHA World Champion

Rocky Red -- 7th - 1952 NCHA World Champion

ROYAL KING -- 1953 NCHA Reserve World Champion

Royal King -- 6th - 1954 NCHA World Champion

Royal King -- 9th - 1955 NCHA World Champion

9 AQHA Superior Cutting Horses

2 NCHA Silver Awards:

King's Pistol, Royal King.

6 NCHA Bronze Awards

1 Superior Reining Horse

Hall of Fame, '89 AQHA

Hall of Fame Offspring, Poco Bueno (AQHA), Royal King (AQHA), Continental King (NRHA)

Outstanding Offspring
Asbeck's Billie, 1 HLT & 47 performance points;, '58 O 4th NCHA World Champ.;
Bimbo Hank, 15 HLT & 26 performance points;, '68 O AQHA Champ.;
Black Gold King, 8 HLT & 24 performance points;, '57 O AQHA Champ.;
Brown King H, $4,711 - RC
Continental King, 72.5 performance points;, '66 O Superior RN;
Fiesty B King, 8 HLT & 17 performance points;, '54 O AQHA Champ.;
Fred B Clymer, 4 HLT & 101 performance points;, '66 O Superior CUT;
Gay Widow, 105 HLT & 16 performance points;., '53 O AQHA Champ.; '54 O Superior HLT;
Joe Hank, 29 HLT & 14 performance points;, '64 O AQHA Champ.;
King Glo, 25 HLT & 15 performance points;, '62 O AQHA Champ.;
King Hollywood, 45 performance points;, '70 Y HI PT CUT;
King Joe Jet, 57 HLT & 64.5 performance points;, '61 O AQHA Champ.; '64 O Superior HLT;
King So Big, 15 HLT & 75.5 performance points;, '62 O AQHA Champ.; '62 O Superior CUT;
King Wimp, 30 HLT & 12.5 performance points;, '66 O AQHA Champ.;
King's Francis, 35 HLT & 19 performance points;, '60 O AQHA Champ.;
King's Joe Boy, 15 HLT & 44 performance points;, '53 O AQHA Champ.;
King's Madam, 12 HLT & 25 performance points;, '59 AQHA Champ.;
Kings Pistol, 30 HLT & 67 performance points;, '57 NCHA World Champ.; '54 AQHA Champ.; '57 Superior CUT;
L H Quarter Moon, 121 HLT & 39 performance points;, '54 O AQHA Champ.; '55 O Superior HLT;
Little Alice L, 25 HLT & 25 performance points;, '55 O AQHA Champ.;
Martha King, 2 HLT & 36 performance points;, '58 O HI PT RN M;
Mr Harmon, 15 HLT & 103.5 performance points;, '58 O AQHA Champ.; '60 O Superior CUT;
Olga Fay, 2 HLT & 57 performance points;, '65 O Superior CUT;
Poco Bueno, 37 HLT & 8 performance points;, '53 O AQHA Champ.; '90 AQHA Hall Of Fame Horse;
Power Command, 11 HLT & 18 performance points;, 56 O AQHA Champ.;
Red Bud L, 13 HLT & 8 performance points;, '55 O AQHA Champ.;
Rocky Red, 6 HLT & 103 performance points;, '55 O Superior CUT;
Rose King, 38 HLT & 62 performance points;, '57 O AQHA Champ.; '62 O Superior CUT;
Royal King, 106 performance points, '97 AQHA Hall of Fame; '53 Superior CUT;
Steve Adams, 9 HLT & 129 performance points;, '59 O Superior CUT;

Once proclaimed as the greatest horse of his time, King has become one of the American Quarter Horse industry's cornerstones. While he never won any performance points, King established a dynasty. He sired 20 AQHA Champions, 84 Performance Registers of Merit, 12 Racing Registers of Merit, three Superior Halter Award winners and 10 Superior Performance Award winners. At the time that King was born, there wasn't an American Quarter Horse Association. However, his conformation would later set the standard for American Quarter Horse judging for more than a decade. King died of a heart attack in 1958 but even now, the American Quarter Horse industry is influenced by third, fourth and fifth generation King-bred horses

AQHA Hall of Fame. Breeder: Burney James, Encinal,TX. Owner:Jess Hankins, Rocksprings,TX. Died 1958.A Leading Maternal Grandsire Race ROM,A Leading Sire and Maternal Grandsire AQHA Champions and Arena ROM. Sire Of 2 AQHA Hall Of Fame: Poco Bueno and Royal King. 100% foundation. AQHA#0000234


The legendary KING.

KING and Jess Hankins.

King P-234, the most famous Quarter Horse that ever lived.


b 1932
ch 1917
br 1905
ch 15.1 1885
br 1891
dk ch 1887
b 1882
ANTHONY br 1867
SYKES RONDO   dk ch 1887
dk ch 1887
br ~1925
dun ~1918
r.dun ~1908
blk 1895
LOCKS RONDO   ch 1880
dun 1881
LOCKS RONDO   ch 1880
MARY LEE dun 1877
ch 15.1 1885
ch 15.1 1885
  * - Photo Available
Articles about KING:

... the Leader of Quarter Horse Cadence ... Then and Now

This article is dedicated to all those King lovers, breeders, riders and older folks, like me, who like the security those Kings provide. To Lois Francis (who always encouraged me to write something on horses and a King fanatic of epic proportions.) Especially to my indulgent family who suffered through all my horse talk and learned all those pedigrees by osmosis.

M.K. Fredlund   ~  (c) Copyright  8/16/98. All rights reserved.

Mark Twain said "If I can't smoke cigars in heaven, I'm not going." Legions of Quarter Horse "persons" have said if it doesn't have KING in the pedigree, "I ain't riding it!" Strong statements, however, King P-234 was a very special horse. He has been the most inbred, linebred, out-crossed and star-crossed sire to ever grace the Quarter Horse industry. No self respecting reiner or cutter ever knowingly rides a horse without a few crosses to King ... and some feel the more, the better.

All bands and military units use a cadence to time their steps. Quarter Horse Breeders have used their special cadence, "KING-2-3-4 " for over 60 years. Breeders, ranchers, trainers, amateurs, backyard horse folks, kids, and others have marched with the tremendous legacy King horses have provided. Comments like: "they're born broke; they train themselves; I can take 'em anywhere; they are so easy to be around." These are the kind of attributes that make the King horses some of the best to ever carry a rider.

King was foaled in 1932, sixty-six years ago, some eight years before the formation of the Quarter Horse registry. He was purchased by Jess Hankins for $800 in 1937. Foolish, some folks thought, but by today's standards ... a downright bargain. Remember, this was the height of the Great Depression. King was a 5 year old stallion when Jess bought him, then becoming King's third owner. He had been used for roping, general ranch work, and had sired a few foals by this time.

King was blood bay and he had a magnificent hair coat. When he shed out in the spring, gold flecks appeared, giving him an unusual sheen. He was quick to learn, easy to get along with, and possessed plenty of cow sense. King, at maturity stood between 14.2 to 15 hands, well muscled and weighed from 1,150 to 1,200 pounds. His excellent conformation became the standard for the Quarter Horse breed. He was greatly admired for his outstanding disposition and willingness. For years Jess Hankins advertised King as the cornerstone of the breed ... in retrospect, an apt description!

Byrne James was one of King's first owners, his wife gave King his distinguished name. "You've heard the expression, 'the King of Beasts'? Well, to me he was the KING, superior to all the rest." Prior to this change he was known as 'Buttons,' not a bit fitting for the sovereign who was destined to become the greatest sire in Quarter Horse history. Quoting Jess Hankins, "He was as good a natured stud as you could find, and he could be ridden by any kid who ever handled a horse." King remained kind and gentle all his life. His outstanding disposition and athleticism are among his greatest legacies, and they passed on!!

King wasn't just a horse to the Hankins family, he was family. He certainly put Rocksprings, Texas, on the map and helped make the Hankins brothers some of the most famous breeders in Quarter Horse annals. When King died in 1958, at the age of 26, the Quarter Horse Journal noted, "No other stallion now living can boast such a record as King's, and only time will tell when another will equal it." Forty some years later, no other stallion has ever come close. In the 1950's King's breeding fee was $2,500 ... phenomenal money to spend on a stud! Today, in the 90's this fee represents some of the top end prices for sires offered. Will any of them prove to have the same success that "King" horses have provided all these years?

King is on the All Time Leading Broodmare Sires of AQHA Champions list. Not only is he ranked #2, with 20 Champions to his credit, he is also represented by 4 sons, Poco Bueno, Royal King, Beaver Creek, and Hank H, and 2 grandsons, Poco Pine and Poco Dell. Of note, a half brother, Ed Echols, appears on the same list. No other sire equals King's standing. Three Bars (TB) and Wimpy are the only other sires represented by more than 1 son. Of the 22 stallions listed, King has direct ties with 8. If this isn't enough to excite you, consider his producing daughters!

King daughters have produced some of the most successful get in Quarter Horse history. Squaw King (a father to daughter breeding), King Bars, Leo Bob, Mora Leo, Red Bars, Bar Feathers, Gay Bar King, Joe Cody, Okie Leo, Thirsty, Coaster, Baca Leo, Puro Tivio, Aledo Bars and Enterprising King are a few of the more famous King grandget. His daughters' (317 in all) produce records are very interesting reading. Many were inbred to his sons, grandsons, and as mentioned above, daughter back to sire. When it's all said and done, his daughters produced offspring earning 13,054 points in all divisions, 210 ROMs, 50 AQHA Championships. Not bad for an $800 horse.

Perhaps Larry Rose, a leading reining trainer and breeder of reining horses, sums it up best. "I'm a King fanatic! If King had never been born, we would still be in the dark ages of horses." (source)

(c) Copyright 1998 - 2001 by M. K. Fredlund. All rights reserved.  

Quoting from Larry Thorton's article "Boggie Bee" published in The Southern Horseman, October 1995.


King P-234 - Likely the only significant contribution that I can make on the subject is that most of the photos we see of him were taken when he was very old, and his neck had thickened badly. (It happens - I used to wear a 15-1/2" collar, now a 17" is a little tight.) The point is, countless articles and opinions say things like "King - who set the standard of Quarter Horse conformation for decades". Well, with the pictures that we usually see, it would be fair to suppose that the better sort of foundation animals were expected to have necks like he did later in life.  Headshot of King around 16 years old, making point about his neck.
The photo exerpt (top, right) was taken when he was around 16, and even while this neck might not win a halter class today, it's not "out of spec", considering that he is a middle-aged stud. (See the complete picture farther down this page.) Also, thinking about the approximate dates of some of these photos, relative to his age, I suspect that it made a noticeable difference whether he was in working shape, or just standing around. 

One more item, in reaction to some romanticized things I've read about King and his descendants, then I'll conclude my ranting, and get on to the history.
  With scant apology to any wannabe Alec Ramseys, King was not "The Black Stallion" and his get are not magical Disney creatures. The "typical" (if such a thing exists) King/Poco mind has reasoning ability on an almost human level. This may include working out how to untie knots, turn on water, operate stall door latches, even opening snaps. Some spare time may be spent thinking over the events of the day, rather perceptively - and - if they are treated like slaves, drawing the reasonable conclusion that life is a little unpleasant. 
Photo of King P-234 with Jess Hankins
Check out the articles and info they 
have on King over at PremierPub
  If you can strike up the right kind of relationship, and keep them happy about what they are doing, and how they are treated, they will just about train themselves for you. But - intelligence can cut both ways. Without some ability to "read" animal's faces, feelings, motivations, and reactions, it's easy to sour what makes these animals so special. Basic courtesy, fair play and friendship seem to matter more than is usually the case with horses. It took me a while to figure this out in any meaningful way, and even longer to realize that many people, often "pros", only think that they have.

  right - Quote from Don Dodge, Diamond in the Rough article, by Sally Henderson, Southwestern Horseman, Oct. 1994. Article excerpt - Don Dodge comments on horses.
right - Moving on to King himself - from the same article by Sally Henderson. I think Don Dodge has put more animals from this general family into the limelight than anyone else, and the fact that he generally "tells it like it is" makes his words mean more than if they came from some trainers. (I have sometimes read the nicest things said about animals that I know had major problems with disposition or whatever. Don Dodge doesn't B.S.). Article exerpt - Don Dodge comments on King P-234 and his progeny

  King P-234
Photo above from 1943 AQHA studbook
The picture of King most commonly circulated

  As pieced together from Nelson Nye's "Outstanding Modern Quarter Horse Sires" (1948), King's pedigree would look like this:
Extended pedigree of King P-234, in JPEG format
(Many people believe that the "Bay Mare" that Jabalina is out of was a daughter of Traveller - I don't have any info to confirm or deny this.)

  The picture on the right comes from an article by Garford Wilkinson, which appeared in the Quarter Horse Journal, August, 1962. Manuel Benavides Volpe, seated on the left, purchased Zantanon in 1931, producing King, among many other notable animals. It is an interesting article, which I will eventually contact the AQHA hoping for permission to present in its entirety. Until then, here is a little from it:

At the time the article was published, Manuel ("Meme") Volpe was one of a few people still living whose personal involvement with the development of the Quarter Horse extended back to a time when it had only begun to emerge as a recognized type. 

M.B.Volpe, King's breeder, and J.L. Hankins from QHJ, August 1962
He was born in Old Guerrero, Tamps, Mexico, and they moved to Laredo when he was ten. After graduating from Holding Institute in Laredo, he was sent to Allen Military Academy in Bryan, Texas, then to Texas A. & M. College for two years. Returning to Laredo he worked in a dry goods store, but spent what spare time he could with people involved with horse racing in towns along the Rio Grande. After his mother's death he married Damiana Garza, living on little in Laredo, then renting that house out, they moved to ranch land that he inherited. He knew horses, being born to them - his father, Don Servando Benavides being a rancher and racing man - and being an enthusiast in his own right. Some while after moving out of Laredo oil was discovered on his land, which provided the means to acquire some animals of real quality.

The first of real significance was Camaron, (Texas Chief x Mamie Crowder) bred by William Shely, and he continued to develop the quality and quantity of his animals, becoming a major presence in QH racing. Meanwhile, in Alice, Ott Adams had produced Zantanon and sold him (with two others) at eleven months to to Erasmo Flores of Nuevo Laredo, just across the border from Laredo Texas. Quoting Mr. Volpe - "Immediately after my friend Erasmo Flores bought these colts, his uncle, Don Eutiquio Flores, being his neighbor also, was so impressed by the horse colts that after a long and insistent discussion my friend Erasmo sold both colts to Don Eutiquio, who began training the 14-month old Zantanon. I regret to say that all measures involved in the training were so hard that I now know it was not only extravagant and foolish, but it was the most unjust burden ever imposed on any horse; I still do not understand how the poor animal could stand it."
He goes on to say - "After Zantanon had won his first races, my father, who possessed valuable resources, determined to belittle the merits of Zantanon." - and that those efforts were unsuccessful - "Zantanon beat my father's best horses in more than half a dozen races."

right - this is the only picture I have seen of Zantanon in his youth, about 4. Hopefully someone will find and publish a better copy of it one day. 

M.B. Volpe's photo of Zantanon at approximately 4 years old.
Zantanon was absolutely not for sale while Don Eutiquio lived, but Mr. Volpe was able to buy the animal from his heirs for $500, considered an outrageous price in 1931. He said that - "Everyone, especially my father, criticized me for paying so much for a 14 year old horse, but it was not long until many horsemen desired his service, which I did not permit." He had not seen the horse in a long time, and had doubts about the purchase upon delivery, saying "The horse was in the most deplorable condition imaginable; he was so poor and weak he could hardly walk."

[As to that price, Mr. Volpe bred and sold King to Charlie Alexander, who sold him to Byrne James. He, in turn, loaned him to Win DuBose, who eventually purchased him for $500. When Jess Hankins later bought him for $800 he was also considered foolish for spending so much, although he evidently did not punish his critics by withholding stud service - which I would, too - punish them, that is.]

It appears that in the middle 30's Mr. Volpe sickened of the behavior sometimes encountered at events, to quote the article, "the social graces and moral fiber of many persons who participated in match racing in the 1920's and 1930's left much to be desired", and reacted by selling Zantanon and "a number" of his best mares to Byrne James. Ultimately regretting this, he later bought them back, along with most of their produce. The rest of the article is directed mainly toward Zantanon's offspring, and while interesting, is a subject for another page, at some future time.

It closes mentioning that Mrs. Volpe died in 1959, and that the Volpe ranches were being managed by his son, who lived close by with his wife and children. Also that he sold the last six mares he had in December of 1961, and said that he felt their absence keenly, and that he would always treasure the friendships that had arisen from his involvement with horses. 

    The picture below appeared with King's obituary in the 1958 Quarter Horse Journal, Jess Hankins up. It is worth noting that at that age (around 16) his neck (the horse's neck) was not terribly heavy. (The pictures most commonly circulated show him in old age, when the throatlatch had become very thick.)

The obituary from 1958 QHJ, below.
Photoscan of King P-234's obituary, from QHJ, 1958
Those interested in QH history might enjoy these:
Articles from 1941 AQHA Studbook No.1, Vol,1
Articles from 1947 NQHBA Studbook No.1