His name may have translated to “a little good,” but Poco Bueno proved to be much better than his name implied. The bay stallion was said to be a late bloomer, but eventually forged his place in history through competition and breeding.
Foaled in 1944, Poco Bueno was bred by Rocksprings, Texas resident Jess Hankins. Hankins had acquired Poco Bueno’s sire King P-234 in the late 1930s for a princely sum of $800 and set to breeding the stallion.
Poco Bueno was out a mare named Miss Taylor, who was sired by a grade stallion often referred to as “Old Poco Bueno.” According to a 2003 Quarter Horse News article, Hankins said Miss Taylor was not a good-looking mare herself, but always had good colts.
As a yearling, Poco Bueno was shown in halter classes across the state of Texas, placing in the Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo and winning the July 4th Texas Cowboy Reunion in Stamford, Texas.
Then, Hankins put him in his annual sale where Poco Bueno brought the largest bid, dropping the gavel at an astounding $5,700. When adjusted for inflation, E. Paul Waggoner bought the yearling for more than $85,000.
His Own Legacy
Under his new ownership, Poco Bueno went on a halter-winning tear, winning Grand Champion Stallion at the 1947 Denver National Western Stock Show, Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo, the State Fair in Dallas and American Royal Livestock Show in Kansas City, Missouri.
Waggoner hired Pine Johnson to start Poco Bueno and train him to rope, much like his sire King P-234 did. In a 1985 interview with Quarter Horse News, Johnson expressed his initial doubts about the stallions’ athleticism.
“They led him out of the stall, and he looked too heavy-muscled. He was a thick kind of horse who didn’t look like an athlete,” Johnson said.
Poco Bueno soon silenced his doubters, turning out from under Johnson as he cut a cow, flipping Johnson so neatly he landed on his feet. The roping plans were put on the shelf and Poco Bueno started cutting training.
“I’ve never ridden a horse like him. He seemed to take off [of] the ground and just freeze to stop. He didn’t stop and slide. He wasn’t a rough horse at all. He never bounced. A lot of horses are good working horses but they are rough; they bounce and jerk you. But he was smooth,” Johnson said.
Poco Bueno’s athleticism changed cutting as we know it, with Johnson needing to hold onto the saddle horn to stay with him. According to Johnson he was initially a laughingstock, until cutting horses improved to a point that everyone held the saddle horn to maintain balance.
In the 1940s and 1950s, cutting competitions were few and far between. Poco Bueno stayed with a band of mares in the pasture from April to September before being brought up in the fall to be legged up for two or three fall cuttings. As a stallion, Poco Bueno wasn’t advertised, and only bred mares in the pasture.
A Playful Gentleman
According to Waggoner ranch manager Fagan Miller, Poco Bueno was the greatest horse he had ever seen, and he had seen a lot of them. Miller said the stallion was easy to handle and nearly all his offspring were gentle and smart.
“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,” Miller said.
A 2003 Quarter Horse News article compared Poco Bueno to a young boy, and people who knew him said you could often see him thinking, trying to playfully push the limits while avoiding reprimand.
Poco Bueno’s old-fashioned breeding regime didn’t keep him from achieving stallion stardom. He was named the number one Quarter Horse sire of 1960, and it’s said he boosted fellow stallion Doc Bar into the spotlight, with his daughter Poco Lena (out of Sheilwin x Pretty Boy) producing National Cutting Horse Association (NCHA) Futurity Champions Doc O’Lena and Dry Doc.
Doc O’Lena went on to father one of the all-time leading sires in the Western performance horse world, Smart Little Lena, who has so far sired more than $42 million in earners and is in the pedigrees of many cutting, reining and reined cow horses.
Poco Bueno’s many accomplished descendants including granddaughter and noted producer Teresa Tivio (by Poco Tivio), who foaled EquiStat Elite $1 Million Sire Doc’s Remedy and EquiStat Elite $3 Million Sire Boon Bar. Both of her sons were influential broodmare sires, with Doc’s Remedy’s daughters producing more than $4 million in winnings and Boon Bar’s producing more than $6 million. A third son of Teresa Tivio, Doc Bar Gem, sired more than $700,000 in winners – including NCHA Futurity Open Champion The Gemnist – and a fourth, Nu Bar, is only a few thousand dollars short of being a million-dollar sire.
Poco Bueno’s stud fee eventually rose to $5,000, the highest of any Quarter Horse stallion at that time. Three of his progeny – Poco Lena, Poco Mona and Poco Stampede – are in the NCHA Horse Hall of Fame. He also is joined in the AQHA Hall of Fame by progeny Poco Lena, Poco Pine and Poco Tivio.
Poco Bueno passed in 1967 at the age of 25.