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2015-09-03

Longhorn cattle drive 101

Special to the Courier

Don't miss the Celebrate Bandera Longhorn Cattle Drive, which begins at 11 am, Saturday, Sept. 5, up Main Street.



Sponsored by Ranch Radio Station 93.5 and 96 Gun, the annual longhorn cattle drive kicks off the Celebrate Bandera Parade up Main Street at 11 am, Saturday, Sept. 5. This authentic cattle drive commemorates Bandera's rich cowboy history. Parade watchers can see firsthand why Bandera has been designated "The Cowboy Capital of the World!"
During the 1870s, herds of cattle were staged on the banks of the Medina River. From that point, hired cowboys "headed up and moved out" the herd on trails heading north Along the way, these "beeves" were joined by other herds and collectively were driven to railway towns in Kansas and feed lots in Illinois and Nebraska.
Traditionally, cattle drives were begun northward just after spring grasses sprouted and continued through the summer. A herd of 2,500 to 3,000 cattle was considered the most favorable size for long drives.
Daily travel distances were governed by the availability of grass and water with the object being to fatten the cattle - or at least keep their weight steady - as they traveled.
A typical trail-driving outfit consisted of a trail boss; 10 to 15 hands, each with his own string of horses; a wrangler, who drove and herded the extra horses; and a chuck wagon cook, who oversaw the vittles. Ten or 12 miles was a good day's drive. The pay was about $35 a month.
Since its inception 11 years ago, the Longhorn Cattle Drive has become one of Celebrate Bandera's most popular spectacles. Crowds gather along Main Street for a chance to see iconic Texas longhorns. This year, Thurmond Longhorns bring their impressive herd of award-winning cattle to the celebration.
The family started raising Registered Texas Longhorns in 2005, when daughters Emily Ann and Thera Hope each wanted a heifer to raise and show. After winning numerous Grand Champion buckles, banners and award ribbons throughout Texas, Oklahoma and Louisiana, not to mention the World Champion Texas Longhorn Show, the Thurmond girls began to breed their own show animals. By mixing different bloodlines, they produced longhorns with both body size and bigger horns.
From those first two heifers, the Thurmond sisters built a herd of over 100 Registered Texas Longhorns. The Thurmonds raise and sell longhorns in Adkins. Their motto is: "If it's not a Registered Texas Longhorn, it's just another beef cow."
This year Celebrate Bandera's cattle drive honors this area's history of being one of the gathering places for the over 7 million head of longhorns that traveled up the Western Trail.