The word history and Texas Longhorns are words that go together hand in hand. These two also have another connection that’s found deep in the heart of Texas—the Y.O. Ranch. Founded in 1880 by Captain Charles Schreiner with profits from driving 300,000 head of longhorns “Up the Trail” to Dodge City, the YO, with its motto being: Y.O. Ranch, Another Name for Texas, has a strong connection with Texas Longhorn cattle. By 1920 the longhorns had been replaced by English breeds. They returned in 1957 under the watchful eye of the Captain’s grandson, Chas. Schreiner III. Charlie III, as he was known, was an active and enthusiastic promoter of Texas Longhorn cattle and the herd grew from a nucleus of Peeler, Yates and WR cattle to become one of the largest herds in the world. Charlie III established the TLBAA and served as its first president. Over the years, many people started their herds with cattle bought at the Y.O. and their first sale was held there in 1974. The infusion of Bold Ruler in the 1980’s and RM Whirlwind WR, a bull that dominated the herd in the 1990’s, kept the Y.O. breeding program among the elite herds in the breed. By the late 90’s, this family owned ranching enterprise involved Texas Longhorn Cattle, real estate development on the north side of the ranch, exotic animal breeding, year around hunting and youth camps. There is something going on at this working ranch literally every day of the year.
The numerous demands of the many activities on the ranch, along with several years of drought, resulted in a sharp reduction in the size of the Texas Longhorn herd maintained at the ranch and a lower profile within the breed. Although exceptional Longhorns still roamed the oak and cedar covered hills of the Y.O., a new generation of Texas Longhorn breeders came along in a brief period of time and these folks were unfamiliar with one of the great stories that the Texas Longhorn industry has to tell. The year 2001 saw the untimely death of Louie Schreiner, followed quickly by the loss of his father, Charlie III. Circumstances dictated change at the Y.O., and the family set new goals in 2003 that would once again put their Texas Longhorn program back on the front burner.
Charles Schreiner IV, or, as everyone calls him, IV, returned to the ranch from his private real estate business. His approach was a combination of good business practices coupled with a true love for the cattle. His first job would be to assemble all of the Y.O. cattle, some 450 of which had been shipped to better lease pastures during the drought. Another massive undertaking would be to locate and catch 150 head of the best cows roaming some 40,000 acres, many in terrain in which a horse would be ineffective. The best animals from these 650 head would be used to establish a foundation herd of 150 cows. Over a several month period in 2003, all but a handful had been caught by horseback, helicopter, trapping at water or with feed and finally, in the case of a bull or two that had developed independent streaks, darting. These cattle were assembled at the Live Oak Ranch, a part of the Y.O. that is excellent grassland and perimeter fenced with an 8 foot high fence with cross fencing that makes it an excellent location to re-establish their Texas Longhorn program with single sire herds.
During this time when a foundation herd was being gathered, Red McCombs had made an inquiry about purchasing a group of cows to breed to his new bull, Super Bowl. In August, a small group was put together and McCombs, accompanied by Alan Sparger, visited the ranch and purchased the cows. In September, the Y.O. held their annual sale, and McCombs was volume buyer. A small but enthusiastic crowd attended the sale, and good cattle sold to happy buyers. RM Whirlwind daughters and granddaughters topped the sale and an exceptional young bull, Airplane, was displayed. He is one of the flattest horned bulls anyone has seen. There were six heifers in the sale bred to him and there was spirited bidding on them. He will be one of the cornerstones of the Y.O. breeding program.
The 2003 sale ushered in the new era at the Y.O. and a new chapter is being written to the Y.O. saga. Charlie IV has set his sights on establishing a breeding program using well-proven, predictable genetics—Airplane and the foundation herd, and combining that with a high-profile herd sire to follow in the footsteps of Bold Ruler and Whirlwind. Having given consideration to his discussions with McCombs and Sparger regarding the excellent prospects of crossing Super Bowl on Y.O. foundation cows, he concluded that he had found his bull. After some three months of negotiations, McCombs agreed to a joint venture in which the Y.O. would acquire half of his ownership in the bull. Super Bowl is one of a very small group of over 70” bulls in the breed today and his calves display exceptional color and uniformity. He will be a great building block in the rebirth of the Y.O. Texas Longhorn program.
In addition to a desire to “kick it up a notch” with the breeding program, the Y.O. has set out to re-establish it’s sale as one of the best in the industry. For those of you who have been to the Y.O. and attended one of their “event” Texas Longhorn sales, you know what a fun time it is. There truly is no place else like the Y.O. Ranch. One of the first things IV did was to ask Alan Sparger to manage his sale. Alan is well known for his 3S Ranch cattle, his involvement with the McCombs herd and his years of putting on top sales. The Sparger and Schreiner families have a long history of friendship and mutual Texas Longhorn interests dating back to the 1960’s (Alan managed the first three sales at the Y.O. in the 1970’s).
With a sale date of September 11, 2004, and with a great new bull, Super Bowl, now being used at the Y.O., plans are now underway for a spectacular two day sale event highlighted by a Friday Texas Longhorn Field Day with two meals served from a chuckwagon, seminar topics pertaining to the great trail drives, from the cooking to the cattle to the horses and fun on the range contests such as a cow chip throwing contest, “you be the judge” heifer judging contest and team “guess the horn measurements” featuring mature Texas Longhorn steers. Field Day activities will be topped off by a Texas Longhorn Steer drive to headquarters, location of the evening presale party and dance. Super Bowl Saturday will follow with 100 head of the best Texas Longhorns being offered by the Y.O. and leading consignors. A new and never before offered attraction will be the offering of sale sponsorships. These breeders will be asked to consign half the cattle to the sale and they will also be hosts to the activities on Friday.
The Texas Longhorn story is one with a great history: nostalgia, ups and downs, a memorable past coupled with an exciting and promising future. The same can be said of the Y.O. Ranch. The history of this famous working ranch is the stuff from which books have been written, and their Texas Longhorn cattle have been known and appreciated as an important genetic base for nearly 50 years. Just as his father set out in the 1950’s to re-establish the Texas Longhorns at the Y.O. Ranch, Charlie IV approaches the future with a commitment to use the Y.O. foundation to build the next great herd of Texas Longhorn cattle at the Y.O. Ranch.
Dear Texas Longhorn Enthusiast:
You are welcome anytime at the Y.O. to see our “Y.O. Cow Herd”.
Charlie 4 and the entire Y.O. Schreiner Family (all 18 of us)