THE LOUISIANA STORY
PEDIGREE OF FLYING BOB
Della Moore son Joe Reed (1921), by the Thoroughbred Joe Blair (by Bonnie Joe, sire-line Leamington-Eclipse, damsire line Vedette-Eclipse). Della Moore son Joe Moore (1927). Joe Reed and Joe Moore very well illustrate the contrast in conformation which results from more Thoroughbred vs. more Billy or Rondo in the pedigree. Joe Moore, a half-Thoroughbred, is by Little Joe, who was by the speedy Mountain Horse Traveler, out of Jenny by Sykes Rondo, she tracing on both sides of her pedigree to Old Billy. Joe Reed, by contrast, with his Thoroughbred sire is a seven-eighthsbred, and while still a substantial and muscular individual is noticeably lighter in build and more level in overall body balance than Joe Moore. Both horses set short-track speed records and sired numerous race winners. I have restored Flying Bob’s hooves to complete the image presented by this historical photo, apparently the only one in existence that gives a good idea of this famous Louisiana-bred’s conformation. He presents excellent bone substance and big and rather steeply sloping hindquarters. The back is long, with a long coupling but the chest of only average width, similar to Peter McCue. The shoulders are clean if a little upright, the neck is shapely, and the head has the characteristic big jowls, short, wedge shape and rounded muzzle of the Rondos and Billys.
At left is the pedigree for Flying Bob, who like Peter McCue and Della Moore was three-quarters Thoroughbred. This horse however presents a preponderance of Eclipse breeding, with 15 of 23 known sire-lines (65 percent) tracing to that individual. He has six lines to Herod through Sir Peter Teazle, Lexington and Sir Archy, and two to Matchem. Flying Bob’s dam, Zeringue’s Belle, was by the Thoroughbred Dewey but out of Walla, a southernbred “quarter of a miler” whose deep ancestry is unknown. Because Belle is reliably reported to have been “gaited,” however, my educated guess is that her tail-female through Rosa is probably entirely Mountain Horse, while War Eagle’s background is likely Thoroughbred and Rondo.
Flying Bob son Dee Dee (1939) was out of Sis by Doc Horn (Thoroughbred, Eclipse-bred through Leamington and Birdcatcher). Sis is out of Old Oueenie. she by D.J. and out of La Hernandez, thus a full sister to Della Moore.
Flying Bob daughter Queenie (1937), who was out of Little Sis, she by D.J. and out of Old Queenie, and thus inbred to D.J. and closely related to Della Moore. With Dee Dee and Queenie we arrive at last at classic, unmistakable Quarter Horse conformation: muscular with very large, sloping hindquarters; somewhat long-bodied with a flexible and rather long coupling; moderately low and rather meaty withers; shapely neck coming “straight out the front,” and noticeably downhill overall body balance. By the time these horses were foaled, we are only a few years away from the establishment of the AQHA.
Alice, Texas, was for the first third of the 20th century the best-known breeder of short-horses in the state. His most outstanding contribution, observes historian Denhardt, “was the skillful blending of two strains of Quarter Horses, those known as Rondos or Billys with the Watkins’ horses.” Clegg owned the stallion Little Joe (by Traveler out of Jenny, whom he had gotten from the Seley brothers), who outran Carrie Nation in San Antonio in 1908. Clegg’s friends in Sweetwater, the Trammell and Newman families, had bought Barney Owens and Dan Tucker from Watkins, and William Anson of Christoval (to be featured in our next installment) had purchased Harmon Baker. Peter McCue himself had raced in San Antonio, and seeing him made Clegg all the more determined to get a Watkins stallion for himself. The opportunity came in 1911 when Sam Watkins died, so Clegg was able to purchase the broodmares Lucretia M. and Hattie W. from the estate as well as the stallion Hickory Bill (sire of Paul El, as well as the King Ranch foundational horse The Old Sorrel).
After acquiring the Watkins horses, Clegg sold Little Joe to his friend Ott Adams and at the same time told Adams about a beautiful, fast mare he had seen named Della Moore. After going to see her, Adams decided that she would be the ideal cross for the compact, muscular Little Joe. Lindsay, however, would not sell for the price Adams offered. But both horses were beginning
to age so Adams, feeling that time was short, borrowed $600 to buy the aged mare. So anxious was he to get a foal out of Della Moore that Little Joe was allowed to cover her the day she arrived at his ranch. The result was a beautiful filly named Aloe. Two years later, Della Moore foaled Grano de Oro, and two years after that, in 1927, the bay colt Joe Moore. Satisfied with this, Adams then sold the mare to rancher O. C. Cardwell, for whom in 1929 she produced one last foal, Panzaretta, to the cover of Paul El.
Like Della Moore, Flying Bob was foaled in Louisiana but had most of his racing career in Texas. Yet another three-quarter-bred, Flying Bob was a muscular and handsome buckskin by the Thoroughbred Chicaro out of Zeringue’s Belle. Chicaro was a brilliant sprinter whose very strong pedigree features a broad array of the best bloodlines: Touchstone, Glencoe, St. Simon, Himyar, Bonnie Scotland and West Australian. A handsome brown standing 16:3 hands, Chicaro was later chosen by Robert Kleberg, Jr., to be the first Thoroughbred stallion to stand at the King Ranch.
Like Sam Watkins’ father, Louisiana sugarcane grower Noah Zeringue was a short-horse fancier and a part-time farrier. In 1927 at the Fair Grounds Racetrack in New Orleans, he was called upon to shoe Chicaro, whose racing career was cut short because he had developed a stricture of the windpipe that surgery could not correct. Figuring that here was a way to access a highquality stallion for reasonable money, Zeringue made a deal with Chicaro’s owner to stand him at the nearby farm of Paulenare Broussard, a retired black racehorse trainer. Zeringue’s mare Belle---who like Della Moore’s dam was sired by the Thoroughbred Dewey---became the first of many good Cajun mares taken to Chicaro. It proved a good “nick” as Dewey’s pedigree presents nearly the same mixture of famous names as Chicaro’s, while also bringing in a line to Lexington and tracing, in tail female, to the very first Thoroughbred ever imported to America, Bulle Rock.
Belle’s foal Flying Bob---originally just called “Bob”---had “Thoroughbred” papers which called him Royal Bob, with his dam listed as “Erath Queen” (Erath being Noah Zeringue’s hometown). Standing 15:1 hands, muscular, goodlegged, and kind, he began racing at only 18 months, beating several more mature horses. After his 2-year-old year, Flying Bob’s owners abandoned his Thoroughbred identity while continuing to race him “unofficially” in match contests and at county fairs until he was 15 years old. His last race was won at St. Martinville, Louisiana, against a Thoroughbred called Bow Way, over a distance of 10 1/2 arpents---an arpent being a French measurement of about 190 feet, a fairly long race for a sprinter at about 3 1/2 furlongs.
At the same time, Flying Bob carried on a very successful stud career, and was in such demand that Zeringue built a horse trailer to enable him to reach the best mares in the region. The cover fee was $25. Late in 1942, Zeringue sold Flying Bob to a Texas family and most of his get after that were foaled in Texas. Of his many foals, a majority became either race winners or the
dams or sires of race winners. In all, 36 of Flying Bob’s sons and daughters eventually qualified for AQHA “Register of Merit” designation in racing, and his daughters added 87 more qualifiers to this record.
In studying photos of Flying Bob and his get, Della Moore’s colts by Billy and Rondo-bred stallions, and Peter McCue’s many progeny out of the same type of “short” mares, we at last begin to see the emergence of a consistent, identifiable Quarter Horse phenotype. The horses of the 1920s and 1930s are taller and heavier than the old Billys and Rondos, while preserving their bulging muscularity. Their longer backs, cleaner shoulders, boxy heads and longer-strided galloping style reflect the increased percentage of Thoroughbred encouraged by the Army Remount program and effected by influential breeders such as the Watkinses of Illinois, the Cajun families of Louisiana, and the rancher-breeders of Texas. No one could mistake Flying Bob or his get for anything but a Quarter Horse. Despite the fact that Della Moore, Flying Bob and Peter McCue are three-quarters Thoroughbred by blood, selection by racing enthusiasts who wanted one thing above all else---speed on the short track---had by 1930 consolidated the type and produced a large population from which future horses of consistently similar conformation would be bred.
In the next chapter of the Quarter Horse story, we will see how an infusion of draft horse blood helped to cure a tendency to tenderfootedness---a conformational shortcoming inherited from the Thoroughbred---and how greater weight-for-height in horses with an infusion of draft blood helped to popularize the nascent Quarter Horse for uses other than racing.
Special thanks go to expert genealogist Cherie Sheaffer who helped fill in biographical details on the Sam Watkins clan for this article.
JOE REED JOE MOORE