Nico and Bella Rodriguez gasped when the longhorn stopped in front of the man and his horse.
"Don't kill him!" they cried.
The longhorn took a long look, shook his head and continued to gallop around the arena.
The two sighed with relief until a pair of longhorns head-butted each other. Nico and Bella were back on the edge of their seats.
This was all part of the Texas Longhorn Trophy Steer Showdown at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo last weekend. Instead of judging the longhorns on halters, which is how it's usually done (and which, should be noted, is fairly boring), the Rodeo decided to do something different this year: set the steers loose in NRG Center's Main Arena.
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Dr. Mark Hussey, interim president of Texas A&M University; Richard Slocum, College Football Hall of Fame coach from A&M; and Dr. Larry Boleman, associate vice chancellor for Texas A&M AgriLife, served as the celebrity judges for the event. Slocum judged from horseback, while Hussey and Boleman stood on platform in the middle of the arena.
During the showdown, the steers ran around the arena, tossing their horns and head-butting each other constantly. Men on horseback kept the steers moving and from bunching up near the gates, while an announcer explained the history of Texas Longhorns (the actual longhorns; sorry UT alums).
At one point, a steer ran up to a man taking a picture in the stands and bellowed before running away.
"I was scared," said Marissa Balboa, who was sitting nearby. "I thought it was going to jump over."