Little Joe - (1904 - 1929)
Little Joe of Alice, Texas, is the only horse
of this name that has proved himself great enough that everyone
knows he is meant when the name is spoken. His sire was Traveler,
his dam Jenny, his full brother King (Possum). Traveler never would
have been so famous were it not for King and his younger brother
Little Joe--especially Little Joe.
Dow and Will Shely bought Traveler in 1903 and brought him to their
ranch between Alice and Alfred, Texas. The next year George Clegg
looked over the crop of colts. George bought one. He said that the
colt, named Little Joe, was so little he could put him in a chicken
coop, and his wife wondered if he had to pay money for him, he was
so tiny. But the colt grew up to have the same short back and big
britches carried by his sire. He was also fast, and George raced
him at every opportunity for four or five years. His first race
was against Carrie Nation in San Antonio, and when he beat her he
was a marked horse.
Some years later Ott Adams bought Little Joe but never ran him.
He wanted a proven race horse to breed to his fast mares. He bred
Little Joe for a number of years and then sold him, not because
he wanted to, but because he was broke and needed money and O. W.
Cardwell, of Junction, was willing to pay for him. Little Joe died
on the Cardwell ranch in 1929. In a letter to Helen Michaelis, Cardwell
wrote, "Little Joe crippled himself in a chute in 1929 and I had
to shoot him." There is more to the story, but the above is sufficient.10
Some people still argue whether Rondo or Little Joe did the most
for the South Texas Quarter Horse.
There was no doubt in Ott Adams' mind that Little Joe did more for
the Quarter Horse than any other horse since the Civil War. His
get and grandget are still some of the best in the business. George
Clegg, who raised Little Joe, considered him the fastest Quarter
Horse he had ever run and probably as fast as any that ever ran
in Texas. That's taking in considerable territory. O. W. Cardwell,
who was never known to be at a loss for words, wrote, "Openly by
many and secretly by more, he is considered the greatest most ideal
sire of this century. Men who have his blood do not wish to change,
and outsiders are hunting for it."11
Many great horses are sons and daughters of Little Joe. Some of
his get include Ada Jones, Plain Jane, Adalina, Nita Joe, Balmy
Days, Joe Moore, Zantanon, Grano de Oro, Old Poco Bueno, Pancho
Villa, Dan, Rainbow, Clear Weather, the Northington Horse, Mamie
Jay, Little Sister, Clementia Garcia, Jim Wells, Pat Neff, Cotton
Eyed Joe, Lupete, Lady Love, Ace of Hearts and Dutch.
The names of his grandget are equally famous and include Miss Panama,
Skidoo, Miss South Saint Mary's, Hill Country, Stella Moore, Hobo,
Red Joe, Sunny Jim, King, and Billy Van. His great-grandget include
Squaw H. Hank H. Clementine, Joe Barrett, Bo El, Bolo, Big Chief,
Jesse, and countless others.
Joe Moore was one of Little Joe's most famous sons--not because
he was a race horse nor because his head was so stylish, but because
he produced so many horses that could run, rope, cut, and win shows.
In another section, the story of Della Moore is told. She was
the dam of Joe Moore. Ott Adams bought her just to breed to Little
Joe in order to have a suitable replacement. He bred Della to
Little Joe the day she arrived on the ranch. The first foal she
delivered was a filly. The next year she was dry. The following
year she foaled Grano de Oro, a fine bay stallion. Ott still did
not have the stud colt he wanted. Della's next and last colt was
Joe Moore. He was foaled on March 23, 1927. Ott took one look
at the foal and was happy.
Joe Moore grew up into a splendid bay stallion so typically a
Quarter Horse that no one would ever mistake his breed, even if
he were drawn down and ready to race. He was, in the usual manner
of the early Quarter Horses, a small horse when height was considered.
He always looked big but measured small. Some horses may be like
some men. Take Napoleon, for instance. Nobody ever thought of
him as being little, but he was. Perhaps it was the same with
Joe Moore. When you walked up to chin him, you found his withers
were just 14-2 hands. He was, outside of his head, which was a
typical South Texas head, perfectly proportioned for a Quarter
Horse. He had good hips, hind legs, shoulders, middle, forelegs--everything
one could wish.
All of Joe Moore's life was spent in siring foals, such as Bumps,
Hobo, Adam, Kitty Wells, Buddy Lewis, Lucky Boots, Payday, V Day,
Jo-mo-ca, Joe Etta, Stella Moore, Monita, Lee Moore, Joe Less,
Poquita Mas, and others too numerous to mention.
Once Ott sold Joe Moore to J. Rogers of Menard, Texas. This was
the only time the two were separated, and Ott spent sleepless
nights until he was able to rescind the sale and bring him home.
Joe Moore certainly was one of the best, if not the best, of Little
Joe's colts. When Joe Moore died, Ott buried him near Little Joe,
whose bones he had brought back from Junction and buried on his
farm. Today, all three, Little Joe, Ott Adams, and Joe Moore sleep
under the same Texas soil--three individuals to whom the Quarter
Horse owes much.
10 Letter dated in
Junction, Texas, on February 13, 1940. Denhardt Files,
Little Joe Folder.
11 Letter dated in
Junction, Texas, on January 7, 1940. Denhardt Files, Cardwell
This story was taken from the book by Robert Moorman Denhardt
- Quarter Horses: A Story of Two Centuries. (For more reading,
check out another book by Denhardt - The King Ranch Quarter