The American Quarter Horse is the most popular horse breed in the entire world. There are many exceptional bloodlines within the breed that were developed over the years to produce the exceptional Quarter Horses of today. Even though some Quarter Horse fans may swear by a certain bloodline, it may not be the right one for your specific needs.
What are the best quarter horse bloodlines?
The best bloodlines are those that defy time and continue to produce quality and successful Quarter Horses generation after generation. Once you decide what event or purpose you want to pursue with your horse, you can narrow down the search and choose what is the best Quarter Horse bloodline for your purpose.
Every horse is different, and in horse breeding, there are exceptions to every rule. Keep in mind that sometimes horses from a racing bloodline may actually excel as other events, like cutting or rodeo, and vice versa.
Knowing the best Quarter Horse bloodlines for each of the major disciplines will help you better understand exactly which bloodline will work best for you, but don’t let bloodlines be your only factor in choosing a Quarter Horse .
Western Rodeo Events
One of the best Quarter Horse bloodlines is the Driftwood line. The Driftwood bloodline began all the way back in 1932 with a stunning bay stallion named Speedy. True to his name, Speedy became a successful match race winner at a young age.
Later on, Speedy excelled at roping thanks largely to his exceptional speed. Years later, when he was purchased by a new owner and registered with the American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA), Speedy’s name was changed to the now famous Driftwood.
He became known as a tried and true sire to produce quick, even-tempered Quarter Horses that excelled in the rodeo world. From barrel racing to roping, the Driftwood bloodline continues to produce quality, successful horses that dominate the competition. If a rodeo horse is what you desire, then the Driftwood name needs to be in your quarter horse’s pedigree.
Some of Driftwood’s notable offspring include Wilywood, Poker Chip Peake, Speedywood and Driftwood Ike. (source)
Quarter Horse Racing
Go Man Go
The American Quarter Horse that almost never was, Go Man Go had to fight for his place in the AQHA’s registry. He was proving to be a successful horse on the racetrack but his place in the AQHA was not cemented.
Originally registered as Appendix based on his lineage, Go Man Go was bred to be a racehorse. A cross between a Thoroughbred stallion and a mare registered as Appendix, the colt was not considered a true Quarter Horse at the time he was born.
After years of fighting and determination by his owners, this gorgeous roan horse was added to the main AQHA registry largely thanks to the stunning features of his first offspring. He was finally officially considered an American Quarter Horse and he would go on to sire countless race champions including Duplicate Copy and Hustling Man.
He is well-known in the racing world and to obtain a horse that possesses this lineage certainly increases the likelihood of succeed on the racetrack. (source)
Western Pleasure and the Show Ring
Two Eyed Jack
Born in 1961, Two Eyed Jack was a stocky sorrel stallion who’s lineage can be traced back to Joe Hancock, another popular Quarter Horse bloodline.
Two Eyed Jack began his career as a successful halter horse and a fierce competitor in reining, western pleasure, and working cow horse competitions. He was a calm, gentle horse that excelled in the show ring.
Today, Two Eyed Jack holds the top position in the all-time leading sires of AQHA Champion horses. Altogether, he managed to sire more than a hundred Champion Quarter Horses and an astounding 16 AQHA World Show Champions.
If you are an avid show competitor or if you plan on trying your hand in the show ring, a Quarter Horse with this bloodline may be just what you need. Horses with the Two Eyed Jack lineage also make excellent ranch horses and trail riding horses. (source)
Peppy San Badger
A dominating force in the cutting horse industry, the Peppy San Badger line is arguably the best Quarter horse bloodline in the discipline. His sire was Mr. San Peppy, a famous and dominating cutting horse and a champion in his own right.
Peppy San Badger was born in 1974 and did not at first appear to have a promising outlook. While his pedigree demonstrated potential, his health was another story. Suffering from distemper as a colt, Peppy San Badger’s future did not look good.
Once he recovered, however, he began to display the ability and beauty of a well-bred cutting horse. When his sire’s owner began looking for a stallion replacement for Mr. San Peppy, Peppy San Badger was brought to the famous King Ranch, where his ancestry first began.
Affectionately called “Little Peppy” by those who loved him, Peppy San Badger would go on to win numerous cutting horse futurity championships and bring home a whopping $172,710 in winnings over the years. In his lifetime, Little Peppy sired an impressive 2,325 American Quarter horse foals who combined would earn over $25 million.
Horses with the Peppy San Badger bloodline continue to dominate the cutting world and in 2001, the top 4 world competitors were of sons of “Little Peppy” himself. His legacy continues to this day and he undoubtedly created one of the best Quarter Horse bloodlines. (source)
A chestnut Quarter Horse stallion born in 1956, Doc Bar was originally meant to be racehorse, but his true potential lay in halter events. While he struggled on the racetrack, Doc Bar excelled in halter events, winning an astonishing 9 grand championships in only 15 shows.
While he never competed as a cutting horse, his genes would go on to produce a championship bloodline that included cutting futurity winners as well as multiple world championship winners. His offspring ruled the cutting world and he became a proven sire for the sport of cutting.
Beyond that, Quarter Horses today with the Doc Bar bloodline tend to be calm, easily trainable and full of potential in a variety of sports and uses. On a ranch, you can rarely find better than a Quarter Horse with Doc Bar lineage.
His bloodline is known to be excellent at working cows in the ring as well as in the pasture. There is no question, one of the best Quarter Horse bloodlines for ranch work and cattle wrangling is Doc Bar. (source)
Saved from almost being gelded, Joe Hancock was named after his owner. He was sold during the Great Depression for a meager $1,000, far less than his value. Born from a half-Percheron mare, Joe Hancock, the horse, did not fit the ‘desired’ Quarter horse standards of 1923.
However, Joe Hancock did well working with cattle and also performed exceptionally well in Quarter Horse racing. He would go on to sire numerous well-built Quarter Horses with calm demeanors as well as marked abilities inside and outside the arena.
His offspring include many successful roping horses such as Red Man and Roan Hancock, the latter of which was a favorite of famous ropers Shoat Webster and Everett Shaw. If you are looking for a successful roping horse, look no further than a lineage that includes Joe Hancock and his infamous bloodline.
You may hear rumors about the bucking potential for Hancock horses, but many of these claims are unfounded and have little to do with their championship potential.
One of my favorite mares of all time was a bay roan Hancock mare we named Val Doodlebug Gal who we called “Gia”. She was at least 16 hands tall but beginner safe, polite and great on the trail. Check out her pedigree if you like.
Proper training and adequate riders can often deter a Hancock horse that displays a penchant for bucking if you happen to come across one.
One of the best Quarter horse bloodlines in the roping horse industry is the Joe Hancock bloodstock. (source)
The American Quarter Horse Bloodlines are Ever-Changing
With technology continuously improving the science of horse breeding, bloodlines in every breed are improving each year. The bloodlines discussed here are the cream of the crop and the best of the best today and from history. Their blood still runs through the veins of many Quarter Horses of today and on average, these horses continue to excel.
These long-standing bloodlines began when there was not any technological help for breeders. These horses overcame obstacles and defied the odds to become the foundation for Quarter Horses to come. While not every single horse will have an exceptional downline, there are many that continue to impress and dominate their competition.
With the right training and the right rider, Quarter Horses with the best bloodlines, like those discussed here, can excel in their disciplines and even in others as well.
The best Quarter Horse bloodlines include these listed here but talk to any avid equestrian and they will tell you about these and many more. The truth is, there are a lot of excellent bloodlines in the Quarter Horse breed, but Driftwood, Doc Bar, Go Man Go, Peppy San Badger, Joe Hancock and Two Eyed Jack rank at the top of their respective fields.
There is a reason these Quarter Horse bloodlines are still coveted today. These bloodlines withstand the test of time and their descendants continue to represent them as the best of the American Quarter Horse breed.