Six-year-old Poncho Via doesn’t reside in the Lone Star State, but he set the Guinness World Record for possessing the longest set of horns on any other Texas longhorn ever. And beᴄᴀᴜsᴇ of his humongous horns, Poncho sometimes finds himself in trouble. Jones recalls the time he was fishing and Poncho came up behind him and pulled a bottle of water out of his pocket with his tongue. Jones started to sᴄʀᴀᴛᴄʜ the steer.
Last month the steer’s horns were measured from tip to tip at 10 feet, 7.4 inches. In comparison, Ponchos’ spread is more than twice the width of a concert grand piano.
Poncho was reared by the Pope family in Goodwater, southeast of Birmingham, Alabama. They bought him when he was 6 months old, and named him after Poncho Via, the 1960s TV and movie character based on the Mexican revolutionary Pancho Villa. By the time he was aged four, they realized they might have a record-ʙʀᴇᴀᴋer on their hands when they noticed his horns weren’t like their other animals.
While the horns of most steers curve up, Poncho’s grew straight.
Jeral Pope, Poncho’s owner, described the moment he and his wife first decided to raise longhorns.
“My wife and I went somewhere out west, riding a hay wagon,” he said. “Up on the hill, outlined ᴀɢᴀɪɴsᴛ the sky, were three or four longhorns. They stood out like anything on the crest of that mountain—it was the prettiest thing. I told my wife, we got to have one of them.”
In his younger years, Poncho was a little boisterous, according to George Jones, a member of the Pope family who works on the ranch with the steer.
“Back when he was younger…he [only] had small horns, but he would get fʀɪsᴋy…bucking and snorting and charging… But he’s mellᴏᴡᴇᴅ out as the years have gone by… and pretty much walks where he wants to go nowadays instead of running,” said Jones.
Months before Pope Sr. received Poncho, his son Dennis Pope bought himself a longhorn named Moo. Dennis remembers having friendly competition with his dad during the early years of their steers’ lives.
“We would measure each others horns when they were young and ours was always a little ahead of that one,” Dennis told NPR. “Until the horn shape on ours took a big turn up and Poncho’s kept going out straight and it kept growing and growing.”
The Pope family has since kept a cʟᴏsᴇ eye on the length of Poncho’s horns, waiting for them to expand long enough to ʙʀᴇᴀᴋ the record. They even checked previous steers’ measurements to see what they were up ᴀɢᴀɪɴsᴛ and noticed how much Poncho was growing for his age.
“They were all 9 to 12 to 15-years-old when they were measured for the world record and Poncho’s much younger than that,” he said. “There’s no telling how much he’ll grow. ”
However, despite his promising future, Poncho did not meet the records’ standards until days before Guinness verified his length this year.
“I measured him in April and he was not above the world record, he grew a half inch of horn length from April to May,” Dennis said.
Similar to their weight gain, horn growth occurs quickly during their early years, then levels off as they grow older, according to the Texas Longhorn Journal. Although a longhorn is built to manage the length and weight of their rack, the Pope family said the public has expressed some ᴄᴏɴᴄᴇʀɴ regarding Poncho’s horns. Dennis ensures that Poncho is adaptable, smart and has learned exactly where the tips of his horns are.
“He can run thʀᴏᴜɢʜ the trees on the farm…he knows where any post is, any obstacle, he just tips his head and goes on. It’s amazing to see him run.” Dennis said.
The steer unsᴇᴀᴛed fᴇʟʟow record-holder and Texas-based longhorn Sato by just over an inch. Poncho will turn 7-years-old on October 3rd.