Rafter H Longhorns is the joint venture of Kenn Harding and Tammy Tiner and their daughter, Laura Harding. Our 'business' herd of Texas Longhorns began in November 2000 with the purchase at the Eddie Woods Fall Sale of three foundation cows - all three big-volume cows with twist horns and strong pedigrees. However, our initial 'hobby' involvement with Texas Longhorn cattle began in October 1998 when Laura and Kenn went to John T. Baker's Sunrise Ranch to pick up and halter-break a 10-month old brindle heifer that had been donated to Laura by Glen and Lyn Lewis of Flying Diamond Ranch in Colorado. Since we had no place to keep a Longhorn heifer at our College Station house a block from Texas A&M, Starlight Express stayed at the ranch of Christine Larsen, Laura's Longhorn mentor. Over the next two years, Laura had another heifer donated to her in 1999, and we bought a young Shady W heifer and a young steer prospect from Christine. By the end of 1999, it was clear we were hooked, so we purchased some pasture land and began developing Rafter H Ranch. More of Laura's story about raising and showing Texas Longhorns can be found on her web pages (Click HERE).
The objective in our initial purchase in 2000 was to obtain cows that had the potential to produce show-quality animals, but which would also produce adult Longhorns with desirable horn development. Our initial breeding of Laura's heifers and our cows involved either artificial insemination or borrowed bulls. This approach became increasingly problematic with increasing numbers of breeding age femals. By November 2001, it was clear that the costs of artificial insemination services for the heifers/cows we already had on hand made purchase of a herd sire potentially cost effective. To meet our breeding objectives, we needed a herd sire that could produce growthy young animals with genetics that would provide horn development in mature animals. El Coyote Ranch had consigned an outstanding looking 1998 Emperor son to the Eddie Wood Fall Sale. He had the body size, horns, and pedigree that suggested he might be what we were looking for. After determining that his mother was an outstanding producer of herd sires for El Coyote, we set out to purchase him. We did buy him at the sale, and he has been an outstanding buy. He is gentle (he was a World Class Champion in the 1999 TLBT show), he stays at home, and he is producing outstanding calves from our small set of cows. Emperor's Echo was the Class 6 Champion in Total Horn at the 2002 TLBAA Horn Showcase, confirming his outstanding horn growth. Our first heifer from Echo and one of our first three cow purchases has been Class at both the 2003 and 2004 TLBT World Show. We took four heifers from Echos first crop of 15 calves to the 2004 TLBAA World Show. In the TLBT Youth Show we had one Class Champion, two 2nds, and a 4th. In the Non-haltered Open Show, we had one Class Champion and two 2nds. Although we are just starting with a small herd, we now have confirmation of our ranch slogan, Breeding for Excellence.
With Echos second calf crop on the ground and Echos retained daughters reaching breeding age, we found ourselves needing a second herd sire.We decided we wanted to cross our Emperor genetics with genetics that provides for more early horn growth. Although our Echo heifers have good size, we did not want to sacrifice conformation and size. Our experience purchasing Echo at an age that we could see what he was going to be at maturity influenced our decision process this time. We again purchased a 3-year old bull. We have purchased Refuge Chex, a 2001 Bob Loomis bred Coach son from El Coyote Ranch, where we were able to see some of his first progeny (one of which was out of an Emperors Echo daughter!). We are excited about the prospects of this blend of genetics.
Take a look at some of our cattle on this web site. Give us a call about calves, bred cows, heifers, young bulls, or a trophy steer. We also will consider pasture breeding or partnerships with our two outstanding bulls. Come give us a visit. We dont have fancy fences or pens, but we do have a nice set of cows and a couple of outstanding bulls producing good-looking calves
Laura's great-great-great-great-grandfather, Joseph Henry Polley, came to Texas as one of the original 300 colonists with Stephen F. Austin in the early 1800's. He branded and sold longhorn cattle by the thousands during the period prior to the Civil War. An article in the May 1938 issue of The Cattleman stated:
"At his death (in 1869), his cattle brand JHP (connected) was registered in many of the cattle counties in Southwest Texas. The earliest recording was in Brazoria county in 1837. His herds of longhorns were estimated, by some, to be second in number only to the great King holdings. During the time when depradations were being committed by Mexicans, over 16,000 head were reputed to have been stolen or killed from the Polley herds..... Mr. Polley looked after his cattle scattered from Fort Bend county to Marble Falls, and from Corpus Christi to Austin. They were sold mostly on the San Antonio and New Orleans markets. Later his sons 'went up the trail.'....."
Unfortunately, like many Texans after the Civil War, their family lost their land holdings because of lack of funds to pay the taxes, so there were no more longhorn cattle in the family until 1998!
The Rafter H Longhorn herd and "ranch house" is located near Edge, Texas about 30 miles north of College Station, Texas. We live in College Station one block south of the Texas A&M University campus.
Kenn Harding · Tammy Tiner · Laura Harding
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