Wrangling a herd of 16 longhorn steers, a team of drovers and 700,000+ annual visitors -- all for the sake of the world's only twice-daily cattle drive -- can be pretty interesting, to say the least. I sat down with the Fort Worth Herd Trail Boss Kristin Jaworski to hear first-hand about her most memorable encounters.
What are the quirks of the job?
Quirks – that could mean several different things depending on the day! After all, I haven’t found another city that drives 16 Texas longhorns through the city street twice a day. That’s a ‘quirk’ in itself.
One thing folks may not realize is how many gates are involved in getting the steers down the street on a daily basis. (We are talking about gates in the literal sense) Each time a pen opens and closes, an alley has to be opened, and a gate must be set and changed in order to direct the Herd towards the correct path.
Cattle are creatures of habit; however, you must have a predetermined path for them to take and all outlets must be blocked or one of those curious critters will go right through the open hole. The Drovers (cowboys and cowgirls on horseback) must always check gates, secure them, and then double and triple check them.
Tip of the Day: Always leave a gate how you found it.
Who is your most interesting celebrity guest?
Vanna White. We filmed an excerpt of “Wheel of Fortune” on East Exchange several years ago and one of the prizes on the show was “a new car!” During the shot, as Vanna held her umbrella to protect her from the hot, Texas sun, one of the longhorn steers welcomed her by leaving some Stockyards manure on the bricks just as we drove past her and the ‘prize’.
Needless to say, she lost track of her lines and fumbled over the subject as it was so distracting. True professionals we are, the team turned the steers around to start over and reset. Everyone just laughed because, as we know, Vanna doesn’t make mistakes!
What is your favorite holiday celebration?
The favorite holiday celebration for myself and The Herd program would have to be Christmas and the entire holiday giving season. This is mostly because it gives us an opportunity to remind our visitors, supporters and fans that everyone can be involved and build a relationship with the cattle and the Drovers.
Each steer in the program is available for “adoption” through our Adopt a Steer program. It’s a great gift idea for the person in your life who has everything.
Adopting a steer gives you the chance to provide feed and care for the steer for up to a year. Plus, you pick your favorite longhorn! Details about adopting a Herd steer can be found here.
Do you have a favorite or pet steer?
Well, we are very careful not to associate the cattle as pets because animals perceive and experience the world a little different than we do. We do have a few steers that are more gentle than the others so if we narrowed one down that is most welcoming of our affection, it would have to be Rojo.
He enjoys our company and attending events with us. I like to think he has grown with us as a program and taught us as much as we have taught him. He has great trust in us as handlers and his experiences with The Herd have been so positive that he is very cooperative with anything we ask of him.
I won’t lie, I do like to scratch Rojo just above the eye and I just know he loves it!