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Thursday, May 6, 2010

Saddle Up.....Riding Longhorns

No bull about it, there is a growing fad taking the horns. “Texas Long Horns “known for their lean beef and made famous during the national era of the Texas Cattle Drives of the late 1860’s through the 1880’s have long been a popular beef. However, this new fad is not about the beef. It’s about cinching down the saddle and mounting up for a pleasure ride taking to the trail.

Most of us have seen the Mel Brooks movie “Blazing Saddles” where the large character “Mongo” rides into town on the back of an ox. No horse would have made that scene work with such comical amazement as the oversize cattle for the oversize character. Truth be told, these massive bulls often get a bad rap more over from the sport of Bull Riding holding on for dear life. However, riding Long Horns is much different than a Rodeo sport. “It’s a true awesome enjoyment” stated my son Austin, who just had the opportunity to testify to this fundamental experience during a visit to the Fort Worth, Texas stockyard.

Carol and James Gentz Jr. of Winnie, Texas have been enjoying the riding pleasure of the Texas Long Horn Cattle for many years. They own the Gentz Cattle Company and have been in business since 1979. They often ride several of their Longhorns for pleasure and frequently lead parades. James explains that the cattle just seem to draw the attention of onlookers. He further explained some advantages. Long Horns don’t colic unlike horses. They normally just walk their cattle but they also have gaits as does horses. I question him how you train a Long Horn to ride and he stated, “Just like breaking a horse. It starts with ground work taking young calves at halter just as you would a colt.” He further explained that while they have a gentle attitude, like horses, they can become barn sour if you do not keep them in practice and the only other great difference was the larger girth and lack of withers. Saddles are design for horses resting in the Wither of the back which makes it more complicate on the Longhorn. Nevertheless, they still catch attention and make for a pleasure afternoon ride.

While the Gentz family does ride several of the herds stock, they market their beef raising them in an organic manner. Longhorn cattle are “naturally lean” (not much fat to cut off).   Our pasture raised Longhorns beef is lean, healthful providing lower fat and cholesterol than most beef. It’s also tender and great tasting,” states James.  The Gentz Cattle Company has a champion breed winning awards from several of the largest Stock Shows including both The Houston Stock Show and the San Antonio Stock Show.  They can be contacted
at  http://www.gentzlonghorn.com/ where you will find James as a friendly likable Cowboy that knows his cattle.

Dozens of other cattle ranches too, are raising Longhorns for riding. Dee Dee Strauss of Premier Longhorns located in Stillwater, Oklahoma shown right riding one of her favorite steers.    She raises quality bloodlines who specialize in riding Longhorns. A native from back east, she has made Oklahoma her home now for 30 years and knows the Bovine and Equestrian business. She takes a different approach that some might call the Bovine whisperer of the Longhorn training steers to ride. When asked, why ride longhorns, she explained…”why buy a boat? There is a peaceful serenity of riding Longhorns much as one would enjoy sailing”, “Longhorns are very docile animals and very intelligent.” They learn quickly and are a loving animal.” She further explained that the longhorns are majestic creatures that people tend to notice. The color, size and of course horns stand out. People will drive past a pasture of Black Angus cattle and never stop to peer over the fence, but the Longhorn is another story that catching people attention. 

She has trained many of her steers to perform tricks along with riding. Additionally, many are well known bovine as the renown ~Mufasa 801~ sold to Emiliana Achaval of Maui, Hawaii. Mufasa with his 92” inch horn spread travels the Hawaiian Rodeo and Western events receiving celebrity status. This Longhorn is Hawaii’s Grand Marshall in all the parades. I question her about the nation’s economy and how it affects her business. “It’s our best year.” It seems to explain the Riding Longhorn popularity.

Dee Dee like James Gentz is highly likable and she has assisted the Longhorn community with numerous articles covering every aspect in raising, breed, caring and training cattle. Dee Dee led me through many topics with the Longhorn Cattle from its beginning to current trends educating my knowledge of the Texas Longhorn. I found myself fascinate much as those who like my son Austin, took to the reins and rode what appears a massive beast.

I remember seeing Texas Post Cards showing a grand Steer mounted by a Cowboy with some Texas Humorous comments like “Only in Texas” or “Everything is Bigger in Texas”.  While riding Longhorns may still be just a novelty, it is growing in popularity. It’s a phoneme that is spreading across the nation taking riding by the Horns.

story by Roger A. Edison

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