Show features breed with long history, horns

August 05, 2004|by RYAN C. TUCK

SHARPSBURG - Cherokee, a 4-year-old Texas longhorn, might weigh more than 1,000 pounds and have horns that are 60 inches from tip to tip, but when left alone for "bath time" Wednesday, he didn't look scary, he looked scared.

Cherokee was one of more than 20 participants in the Texas Longhorn Show at Ag Expo Wednesday.

"He wants his buddy," said his owner, Curtis Clopper, after watching Cherokee scale a 3-foot fence to try to get back closer to Frosty.

Texas longhorns are the oldest type of breed cattle in North America, said Randy Sutton, president of the Northeast Texas Longhorn Association.


Dressed in an orange University of Texas Longhorns baseball cap, Sutton explained how longhorns were brought over on Christopher Columbus' second voyage to the Americas.

"They're part of our history," he said.

Sutton listed the reasons why he breeds longhorns.

"First of all, they're very healthy. The meat is lean and low in fat and cholesterol," he said. "They have a quiet disposition ... they're more docile than any other type of cattle."

Jeff Wiles, of J.W. Longhorns, seemed to share Sutton's enthusiasm for breeding Texas longhorns.

T.W., his 6-year-old, 1,800-pound longhorn, has a super temperament, he said.

T.W. and Wiles have been walking and showing together since T.W. was 10 days old. Wiles can even throw the lead - the rope used to direct the steer - over T.W.'s 70-inch span of horns and trust that he won't cause trouble.

"He's real intelligent," he said. "We have a mutual respect for one another ... he knows I'll treat him right."

Tara Woelfel seemed to be proof that Sutton and Wiles' comments on the animal's temperament were correct.

Tara, 9, weighs only 65 pounds but was showing a Texas longhorn that weighed more than 1,100 pounds.

"He's calmer than a cow," she said. "I work with him a lot."

Tara said gaining a longhorn's confidence is her "secret."

Wiles agreed.

"There is no way to control an animal this big if they're not calm," he said. "They have to be gentle."

Rusty Bowser, of Mountain View Texas Longhorns in Smithsburg, saw while showing Good Golly, Miss Molly what happens when a longhorn gets annoyed.

"She got the jitters," he said after struggling with her attempts to throw her horns during the show. "But (she) was a perfect lady leaving."

Bowser said later that longhorns hate to be by themselves, which might have caused Good Golly, Miss Molly's "jitters."

"Doesn't matter who their owner is," he said. "They just want to buddy up with someone."

After figuring prominently in Colonial America and post-Civil War cattle drives, Texas longhorns almost became extinct, said Mary Sue Cline, former president of the International Texas Longhorn Association.

Through legislative efforts under President Theodore Roosevelt and strong support across the country, they survived, she said.

Cline said the longhorns' variety of colors, their multi-faceted natures, their ability to adapt and evolve and their high-quality meat production are reasons to breed longhorns.

Longhorns ranged in color at Ag Expo Wednesday from brown, speckled, black, white, calico-colored, red and gruel-colored.

"There's something for everybody," show judge June Cohron said.

Once Cherokee was reunited with his buddy, Frosty, his attempts at leaping were put on hold. His only concern then was Slick Rusty, his competition and the defending National Champion Texas Longhorn.

But he looked unfazed after losing to Slick Rusty in the All-Age Steer division.

Clopper said Cherokee was just happy to be back with Frosty.

"I just have to keep those two together," he said.

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