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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