Great State: Saddle Cattle
STILLWATER, OKLAHOMA — Dee Dee Strauss used to train quarter horses, but she prefers a different beast of burden now.
“They’re kind of like a cross between a golden retriever, a horse, and the family milk cow,” she says.
Among the Strauss ‘Premier Longhorns’, about half of them are saddle broke.
Dee Dee insists, “I think everything a horse can do, a cow can do, especially a Texas Longhorn.”
The cow she’s riding today is named Astoria.
Dee Dee is still training her.
She says longhorns are a little different than horses.
A visitor to the Strauss Ranch observes, “So, to you, these are smarter than horses,”
“Yes. They are,” she responds. “They definitely are. They really think and they problem solve.”
They’re a bit wider around the middle than most horses.
Dee Dee says their skin is looser.
It can sometimes feel like the saddle is coming loose even when it’s on tight.
Strauss adds, “Longhorns carry their weight on the front end.”
She agrees that it’s a strange sight to see someone riding a Texas Longhorn.
But as one of the only professional ‘saddle cattle’ trainers in the U.S. Dee Dee is eager to ‘steer’ people to the idea of riding the instead of eating them.
“These really are wonderful animals,” she says. “They’re so much more than just ‘what’s for dinner’.”
Her visitor notices that the horns look a lot like handlebars.
“Well she is one of the longest horned cows for her age in the world, probably number two right now,” says Dee Dee.
You can ride them fancy or just along the section line.
Dee Dee and her husband Neal have a small herd they raise for horn length and all the other, usual traits prized in Texas Longhorns.
Then they try them out for one other thing; how they handle on the trail, in the saddle.
Dee Dee says, “It’s basic horsemanship applied now to steermanship.”