whites came to Texas in the early 19th century, thousands of Spanish cattle
roamed wild. Some were probably the early Texas longhorns. Longhorns were
the result of crossing Anglo and Spanish stock. The Mexican rebellion
caused many whites to abandon their ranches and their herds scattered.
This is how the cows got mixed. After Mexican independence was won, white
ranchers went back and tried to rebuild their herds. There had also been
British longhorn cattle that had been brought to the U.S. at various times,
and some in Texas could have been those. There were other British breeds
mixed in too.
Longhorns could be any color, but pale red ,yellow, and dun were the most
common. It was used to ranging a long ways for food and water. It had
very hard hoofs that stood up to a long drive. They gained weight on the
way and were less likely to scatter. A few were always the instinctive
leaders and some outfits felt the leaders were so valuable in leading
the herd they never sold them. The leaders could go farther without water
and were tougher. Longhorn hides were more valuble than other cowhides.
They were also immune to tick fever that killed other breeds.
Once they got to market many were sold to feed lot operators. Others went
to beef contracts with Indian agencies. Many also supplied new ranches
opening up all over the northern plains. They fattened up good on grass
but not on corn, and corn fed cows were bringing the most money. So they
began cross-breeding the longhorn with Herefords and other breeds to get
a cow with the hardiness of the longhorn but the diet of the Herefords.
By the mid-1880s, the longhorn as a pure breed, began to disappear.
Mustangs were small horses that averaged about 14 hands high and weighed
about 900 pounds. They descended from Spanish horses brought by the conquistadors.
They are quick, active, and spirited. There were several horse ranches.
Thomas A. Dwyer established a horse and mule ranch in 1847, where he crossbred
mustang mares and blooded stallions and jacks. Wild herds frequently had
to be driven off to keep them from stampeding cattle. The mustang had
a good sense of direction and was always alert to signs of danger. They
were hard to break but once broken were adaptable and versatile. They
were used by the Pony Express, Texas Rangers, and the U.S. Cavalry. After
the 1860s many were driven north with the cattle because they had become
a hot commodity too. The horses were excellent around cattle and were
often depended on to round-up a herd stampeding after dark. Others were
used to win countless races. By the 1880s, the mustangs had also started
to disappear, in the crossbreeding with Morgans and other types.
-Copyright 2000 by Beth