There are a few things that are just quintessentially Texan: Dr. Pepper, bluebonnets, Friday night football, and pecan pie being just a few. For most people another idea also immediately pops up when they think of the Lone Star State. Made legendary by migrations of historical proportions, the cattle drives of wild Texas longhorns irreversibly changed the culture of Texas forever. The unique animals are famous for their enormous horns, making them one of the most iconic mammals of the southern United States. There are a number of other reasons the Texas longhorn is one of the coolest animals you’ll ever see, and here’s why.
1.) In the 1920s they were almost driven to extinction
Literally. The sweeping cattle drives which pushed them back East in the 19th century left their numbers in rapid decline. After years of being left to graze openly on the grassy plains and hills of Texas, the sudden re-emergence of human activity shocked the natural population into near decimation. Thankfully, in the 1920s the Federal government intervened and began the long work of rebuilding the herds.
2.) Their horns aren’t the only long thing about them
Longhorns have relatively longer legs compared to similar breeds. This is due to their roaming nature, having to travel long distances in the search for food. The breed developed longer legs in response to the need to be able to cover lots of midwestern terrain in less time.
3.) Their horns can measure up to 8 feet long
That’s just a little over the height of Andre the Giant, or the length of a juvenile elephant, for reference.
4.) They didn’t start out in Texas
The ancestors of the longhorns we know today were originally from Spain. Christopher Columbus brought over the first herd. Eventually the cattle would be driven North by the Spanish into present day Texas. When the Spanish left after Texas gained its independence, the hardy breed was able to survive for roughly 300 years before their resistance to disease was rediscovered and made them a prime target for hauling back East.
5.) They’re sweethearts
Anyone who has ever worked with longhorns will tell you that they are a considerably docile breed. This, combined with their unique looks, makes them perfect show animals, and they’ve been a favorite at stock shows since the beginning. The breed is also quite smart and can be trained fairly easily.
If you’ve fallen in love with these gorgeous animals, there are a number of places to see them in the DFW area. As a Texas favorite, you can find them at the state fair in Dallas as well as at the Fort Worth Stockyards. We travel to the Stockyards on our Best of Fort Worth tour, where our professional guides will tell you even more interesting facts about the longhorn!