• Kathy Winkler Studio

Hook 'em Horns

Updated: Sep 10, 2019


The beautifully black, red, and white spotted Longhorn bull on the right (I understand his name was Tom) and the brindled trophy steer (William) on the left were really old hands at playing “hook ‘em horns.” They both had massive horns. When they first started sparring, and looking like they were going to butt heads, I really wondered how in the world were they going to do that without breaking a horn or getting locked with their foe’s horns. The amazing thing is that they would charge each other and their horns would clatter, much like if you caught a couple of elk or deer bucks, locking horns, as they butted heads, and then they would pull back and look at me before doing it again and again. I loved it. They did it several times before departing and munching grass side by side. I loved the way they kept nestling their horns to fit just right in order to get that right feel. Longhorn, like many other mammals, play and show off. They know where their horns are at all times. It doesn’t matter how long the horns are, they can get out of tight spots without a scrape or broken horn.


A longhorn’s horns are very interesting. Unlike animals with antlers, Longhorns do not shed their horns during their lifetime. Their horns grow until the animal passes over the rainbow bridge. Their horns are like our fingernails, made of keratin and bone. Keratin not only makes up the sheath of a horn, but is also the primary component of the horn. The center of the bone is the core of the horn, which is fused to the bone of the skull. The bone core is covered by a resilient sheath (a protective covering), which is made up of keratin.


These ancestral bovine were first brought over by Christopher Columbus in 1493 to the Caribbean island of Hispaniola. They are the only naturally evolved bovine in the U.S. Not only are they commonly referred to as the American Longhorn (you can find them in all 50 states, Canada, Mexico and some European countries). They became the Texas state large mammal in 1995.


All of the above is why I chose to paint “Hook em’ Horns”. Longhorns are, by and large, an American Icon. They are amazing to look at. Not many people would see a couple of Longhorns locking horns. I love to bring what I love to the people who see my paintings.

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