COLUMBUS — Children stood on their tiptoes to peer through the fence. Adults craned their necks to peek over the gate.
Faces in the crowd changed as the minutes passed, but the size of the group packed around Sancho’s pen rarely dwindled.
It seemed like an unnerving situation for the 2,200-pound Texas Longhorn. But he was oblivious to the curious stares and chatter surrounding him.
He munched calmly on some hay, only pausing when his owner/trainer, Martha Morehart, spoke to him.
Sancho attracted attention for a couple of reasons at the Ohio Beef Expo March 14-16.
It was hard to miss his enormous horns, which span nearly 6 feet from tip to tip and more than 10 feet around the pole.
Around the pole means the distance from the tip of one horn, around the head, to the tip of the other horn.
If the horns weren’t enough, the saddle strapped firmly to his back elicited a steady stream of, “Oh, Mom, look! Can I please ride him? Please?”
As child after child climbed into the saddle, Sancho never flinched, sticking obediently to his post in front of the camera.
A world champion of the International Texas Longhorn Association, Sancho’s job is to pose for pictures, walk in parades and perform at rodeos.
He’s a novelty of sorts, broke to ride like a horse, but with a set of horns that makes him more intimidating than your average equine.
However, Morehart said there’s nothing scary about the registered 11-year-old steer. He’s gentle and very considerate of his horns.
He likes to be scratched between his ears and horns and his favorite treats are white bread and yellow apples.
Morehart trained the steer for public display simply to gain exposure for Texas Longhorns.
“I really just wanted to show people a Texas Longhorn here in Ohio,” she said.
He was born and raised in Ohio, although he’s been from Wisconsin to Texas for various events.
Sancho is Morehart’s first trained steer, but she did work with horses and ponies when she was a child. One of the largest riding steers in the U.S., Sancho began his career late in 2001.
“We’re partners,” the trainer said. “It’s humbling that such a big creature like this is so attached to me.”
(Reporter Janelle Skrinjar welcomes feedback by phone at 800-837-3419, ext. 22, or by e-mail at email@example.com.)