Hailing from borderland racing roots, King P-234 became one of the foundations of today's Western performance horse. • QHN File Photo

From The Archives: King P-234

Anyone who has had their nose in a Quarter Horse history book has run across the name King P-234 a time or two. The heavily muscled bay stallion was foaled in 1932 and sported a single white star on his forehead. His solid structure and trainability became the blueprint for the Quarter Horse breed, and he was #234 in American Quarter Horse Association’s (AQHA) registration book.

The Early Years

Between his striking build and success in the roping arena, people were clamoring to purchase King, according to a 2003 Quarter Horse News article. 

Bred by Manuel Benavides Volpe of Laredo, Texas, King was the result of Mexican racing stallion Zantanon and mare Jabalina (By Strait Horse). 

Zantanon was called the “Man O’War of Mexico,” and although he was said to be undernourished, he raced valiantly in South Texas and Mexico. Volpe saw the potential in the stallion and purchased him from Eutiquio Flores for $500. 

The book “King P-234: Cornerstone of an Industry,” authored by Frank Holmes for Western Horseman, described dam Jabalina as difficult to handle and a poor racehorse, but her colts were handsome. 

Initially named “Buttons,” King turned heads from the beginning. Purchased by New York Giants player Byrne James as a yearling, King was broke to ride and trained to calf rope under James. While James was away playing baseball, King was sent to talented roper Winn Dubose to compete. 

Dubose loved the stallion so much he purchased him from James for $500, which adjusts to nearly $10,000 today with inflation. 

King’s Legacy Ignites

Dubose wasted no time getting King ready for stallion stardom, setting his stud fee at $10 with free board for mares, according to Quarter Horse News. He figured with he and King’s success at ropings, people would be knocking down the door for King’s services. 

King’s reputation was strong in South Texas, and Rocksprings, Texas resident Jess Hankins heard of the stallions’ success. 

Maturing somewhere between 14.2 and 15 hands and tipping the scales at 1,200 pounds, King was a roping, cutting and ranch horse extraordinaire. 

Hankins approached Dubose several times attempting to purchase King to no avail. Finally, Dubose agreed to sell King for $800, a staggering price for a horse in the midst of the Great Depression.

Hankins hoped he could make money like Dubose had, standing King to ropers in the area. In 1937, Hankins set King’s stud fee at $15, increasing it to $25 in 1938. By his fourth breeding season with Hankins, King’s fee was $100, which equates to approximately $2,000 today. 

According to Quarter Horse News, Hankins’s neighbors were skeptical anyone was going to show up to breed their mare for $100. They did, and Hankins had to turn more than 80 clients away. Before the end of his career as a stallion, King’s fee stood at $500. 

Lasting Lineage

They say a true sign of a quality stallion is one that can out-produce himself. King did just that, siring scores of AQHA halter and performance champions. His influence on the Western performance horse industry is seemingly everywhere and too numerous to capture all in one article, with the great stallion influencing cutting, reining and reined cow horse.

Sons Poco Bueno or Royal King are in many pedigrees in the cutting industry, thanks to Poco Bueno’s maternal grandson and National Cutting Horse Association (NCHA) Futurity Open Champion Doc O Lena (Doc Bar x Poco Lena x Poco Bueno) and Royal King’s granddaughter – EquiStat Elite $2 Million Dam Royal Blue Boon (Boon Bar x Royal Tincie x Royal King), who herself produced many winning progeny such as NCHA Futurity Open Champion and influential sire Peptoboonsmal.

King’s daughter, Taboo, produced Joe Cody, a stallion by Bill Cody whose sire line transformed the reining industry and is responsible for EquiStat Elite $12 Million Sire Topsail Whiz (Topsail Cody x Jeanie Whiz Bar x Cee Red). King’s son, Easter King, fathered Hollywood Jac 86 and, thus, was the great-grandsire of EquiStat Elite $7 Million Sire Hollywood Dun It.

King passed in 1958 at the age of 26 and was inducted into the AQHA Hall of Fame in 1989.