He was a good halter horse and an extraordinary sire whose get totally transformed the sport of cutting.
Doc Bar will forever be remembered as the horse who revolutionized the cutting horse industry. But, he was not bred to be a cow horse. A look at his pedigree shows speed, and that’s what Tom and Jack Finley at Gilbert, Arizona wanted when they bred Dandy Doll to Lightning Bar, a AAA AQHA Champion son of Three Bars (TB).
Dandy Doll was a AA mare by Texas Dandy, an athletic horse who sired 14 AAA runners and 3 AQHA Champions. Tom Finley says, “Dandy Doll won races from 220 yards up to 440 yards. She was a small mare with a lot of guts.”
By crossing two running bloodlines, the Finleys had high hopes for a speedster.
“We wanted a race horse from that breeding,” said Tom Finley (a past president of the AQHA), “but we didn’t get a race horse. What we got was a good-looking horse who did well at halter.”
At 14.3 and 1,000 pounds, Doc Bar didn’t look the part of a stretchy, streamlined race horse. He was a washout on the racetrack, earning only $95 in four starts.
Art Pollard, who owned Lightning Bar, remembers Doc Bar’s racing debut as a 2-year-old at Rillito Park in Tuscon. In a article about Doc Bar in Cutting Horse (February 1992), author Sally Harrison quoted Pollard as follows:
“The gate opened and he broke and ran about 50 yards and came in last by about 10 lengths. After the race, Tom and Jack asked me if I would give $1,000 for him, which was about what they had in him with the stud fee, raising him, and this race. I said I wouldn’t give my pocket knife. He wasn’t my type. So two fools met – they were fool enough to offer him and I was fool enough to refuse.”
Doc Bar was not a race horse. He wasn’t even a performance horse. But he turned out to be a good halter horse and an extraordinary sire whose get totally transformed the sport of cutting. And although he was never ridden in competition, his sons and daughters forever changed the cutting horse industry with their ability and style. They’ve not only found their way into the cutting arena, but other performance events as well – such as working cow horse, reining, and western pleasure.
Charley Araujo, from Coalinga, California was a good fried of the Finley’s. He had seen Doc Bar when the stocking-legged colt was still nursing his mother, and remarked to the Finleys that he’d like to show the horse at halter if he didn’t make a runner. Araujo got his wish, and also convinced the Finleys to let him stand Doc Bar in California. He showed the horse at halter 13 times, earning 36 points, with 12 wins and 1 second. Doc Bar also stood grand champion 10 times and reserve champion once.
Doc Bar culminate his halter career in 1962 at the Cow Palace in San Francisco, where he was named grand champion stallion; his son, Barlet, was reserve champion; his daughter, Janie Bar, was reserve champion mare.
This caught the attention of a dentist and his wife wo lived near the San Francisco Bay area. Dr. and Mrs. Stephen Jensen of Orinda bought the 6-year-old stallion from the Finley’s for $30,000 in 1962. In those days, that was an impressive price
“Charley Araujo thought of him as nothing more than a pretty halter horse,” says Stephenie Jensen Ward, the Jensens’ daughter. “He rode him once or twice, and swore the horse couldn’t even change leads and wasn’t at all athletic.
“He’d already sired some top halter horses by the time my parents bought him,” Stephenie continue, “so he was too valuable as a sire to take out and train.”
The Jensens had purchased a 680-acre ranch in Paicines, California in 1958, and they called the ranch the Double J.
“They didn’t know a thing about raising horses when they bought the ranch,” Stephenie smiled. “They talked about whether they wanted to buy cattle or horses, and decided foals would look prettier than calves in the pastures. They started talking to people in the horse business, and did some rading. They listened and learned before they began buying.
“None of us had any idea what was going to happen when Doc Bar became a part of our family. We thought we has an outstanding individual, but we certainly never dreamed of how things would turn out.
“His success as a halter sire was immediate. Then, after a few years, halter horse conformation started getting more Thoroughbred-looking. That wasn’t Doc, and during that period he didn’t breed a lot of mares.”
So, here was a race-bred horse who couldn’t run. He supposedly wasn’t athletic and couldn’t change leads. Now his conformation was starting to fall out of favor in the halter world. What was left for him?
“Mom and Dad had bought some Poco Tivio mares,” Stephenie continued. “They preferred the working-type Poco Tivios, and had about three from Charley, who also stood Poco Tivio at that time. Then, they decided to cross those mares on Doc. They were short, fat, brown things, and people wondered why they were crossing them on classy halter horse.”
However, the Doc Bar-Poco Tivio cross became one of the greatest nicks in Quarter Horse history. An example of the magic cross was Fizzabar, a 1961 mare by Doc Bar and out of Teresa Tivio. “Fizzabar made a name for herself as a California reined cow horse when Harry Rose was riding her,” said Stephenie. “Then Don Dodge took her and made her into a spectacular cutting horse. She wound up in the NCHA Hall of Fame.” And in 1968, with Dodge in the saddle, Fizzabar became the National Cutting Horse Association World Champion Mare. Other good horses Teresa Tivio produced by Doc Bar, are Cal Bar, Nu Bar, Doc’s Remedy, Doc’s Haida, Boon Bar and Doc Bar Gem.
Another Poco Tivio daughter was Susie’s Bay, described by Stephenie as “a great big old tank of a mare.” When bred to Doc Bar, she produced Doc’s Marmoset, winner of the ’73 NCHA Futurity; Doc’s Solano, youngest horse to ever win an AQHA Championship; Doc’s Bar Bender, a great calf roping horse, and Doc’s Oak, a finalist in both the 1976 NCHA Futurity and the CRCHA Snaffle Bit Futurity (for reined cow horses).
Besides Poco Tivio daughters, the Jensens also had daughters of other foundation-bred Quarter Horses, such as King P-234, Leo, and Hollywood Gold.
The Doc Bar dynasty in the cutting world began in 1969, with four offspring entered in the NCHA Futurity. Three placed second through fourth: Doc’s Kitty, ridden by Shorty Freeman; Doc Luck Bar, ridden by Buster Welch; and Doc’s Leo Lad, ridden by Carol Rose.
An unprecedented string of NCHA Futurity wins continued almost unbroken for 2 decades, in which Doc Bar’s get and grandget dominated cutting’s most prestigious event.
In 1970, Doc O’Lena, ridden by Freeman, won all four go-rounds of the NCHA Futurity, a record that still stands as this is written. In 1971, Dry Doc, ridden by Welch, claimed the crown. Both stallions were out of Poco Lena, a famous cutting mare sired by Poco Pueno.
In 1973, Doc’s Marmoset, ridden by Tom Lyons, won, followed by Doc’s Yuba Lea, ridden by Leon Harrel, in 1974.
In 1975, Lenaette, a daughter of Doc O’Lena, won, making her a Doc Bar second-generation NCHA Futurity winner. She was ridden by Shorty Freeman.
The wins picked up again in 1978 with Lynx Melody, ridden by Larry Reeder; in 1979 with Docs Diablo, ridden by Bill Freeman (Shorty’s son); and in 1980 Mis Royal Mahogany, ridden by Lindy Burch. All three were Doc Bar grandget.
Then, in 1982, another Doc O’Lena won the NCHA Futurity. Smart Little Lena, ridden by Bill Freeman, went on to win the NCHA triple crown: NCHA Futurity, NCHA Derby, and NCHA Super Stakes. In 1987 and 1988, two of Smart Little Lena’s get earned victories in the NCHA Futurity, making them the only futurity winners whose sire and grandsire were both futurity winners. In 1987, it was Smart Date, with Leon Harrel in the saddle, and in 1988, it was Smart Little Senor, with Bill Freeman riding.
The ability of Doc Bar and his sons and daughters to pass on their talents was never more evident than in the 1983 NCHA Futurity, when 21 of the 23 finalists had Doc Bar somewhere in their bloodlines, either on the paternal or maternal side.
All this time, Doc Bar never left the Double J, whose name was changed to the Doc Bar Ranch in the 1970s. His sons, daughters, and grandget made his name for him, and it was only fitting to name the ranch after him. The ranch, about 45 minutes south of Hollister, California is managed by Stephenie and her husband Charlie Ward. Charlie took over management of Doc Bar in 1963.
According to AQHA records, Doc Bar sired 485 foals who earned 2,492 halter points and 4569.5 performance points. Twenty-seven became AQHA Champions. While that’s an impressive record, it does not truly reflect his greatness as a sire because many of his sons and daughters competed only in NCHA cuttings, not AQHA events.
Nor is there an accurate count of the hundreds of thousands of dollars his offspring won, or of the dozens of breeders and trainers who became successful in the horse business by owning, training, or showing Doc Bar offspring.
At the age of 21, the grand old horse sired his last foal, aptly named Doc’s Last Chance, who was born in 1978. Sterile by that time, Doc Bar spent the remainder of his years in pasture with a favorite old mare.
Doc Bar was 36 years old when he was humanely put down on July 20, 1992. Charlie and Stephenie made the painful decision after it was obvious the old horse was no longer able to digest his food properly. He couldn’t maintain his weight and was having trouble getting up. His grave is under a black walnut tree in a pasture. But while his death marked the end of the grand stallion’s life, his legend and his gift to the cutting world lives on.
“Doc really revolutionized the cutting world in terms of looks and actions,” says Stephenie. “His colts were prettier with keener heads and better necks than the more old-style types who preceded him.”
Doc Bar stood 14.3 and weighed about 1,000 pounds, and many of his offspring were of a similar size, or even smaller. But a horse doesn’t need size for quickness or athletic ability, and the Doc Bars were loaded with swiftness, agility, and style, plus class, cowiness, and charisma.
However, they were not all the same. Charlie Ward put it this way: “Some had more ability than others, and some were a little more high-strung than others. I had the most success with ones that were just a little bit hot. But being hot didn’t mean they were crazy; there is a difference.
“With some, you found out right away they had the ability and the cow that it takes, and sometimes they were liable to overreact at first. I still remember the first few times I took Doc’s Starlight into the arena with cattle. She didn’t know what I wanted because she had no experience, and she was a little wild at first. It took awhile, but I finally got her calmed down so she would make just one move instead of five. When she got the idea, it was set in her mind. Then she was sure one of those horses that, when you were in tough competition and the cattle got bad, and you knew the only way you could win was to really ask her…she always had that extra and would cow through for you.”
Doc Bar is credited with bringing a totally difference look to cutting horses, and for putting the sweeping motion into the cutting horses of today. And his get loved to cut…to toy with a cow just the way a cat will toy with a mouse. They enjoyed the challenge of going head-to-head with a wily ol’ cow.
Doc Bar’s get and grandget have all proven that they can pass on the greatness of “the old man.” Consequently, there will always be a demand for horses of Doc Bar breeding – not just by cutting horse riders, but anyone who wants a classy, intelligent, and talented athlete.
Stallion Show Record
Total Points Earned: 36; Halter Points: 36; SI: 75; Race: $95;
Halter Points Earned: 2,742.5; Halter Point Earners: 114; Superior Halter Awards: 12;
Performance Points Earned: 6,151.5; Performance Point Earners: 237; Performance ROMS: 132; Superior Performance Awards: 27;
AQHA Champions: 31; Total Superior Awards: 39; World Championships: 9; Res World Championships: 4; High Point Wins: 1;
Race Earnings: $1,098; Stakes Winners: 1; Race ROMS: 1; Race Offspring Wins: 1;
Equi-Stat Cutting Offspring LTE:
AQHA Offspr NCHA LTE: $3,213,453
#43rd ranked All-time leading sire of AQHA points earned by progency in O HLT & Perf. classes as of Jan. 1, 1999.
Stallion Rankings - A Top Stallion Ranked By: