HOUSTON – While the food and the concerts are a big draw at The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, the event is still a major showcase for people who raise livestock.
The prize money from those competitions can also have a huge impact.
On four pretty acres of the Texas Hill Country on a patch of land behind her house Sabrina Luensmann raises a couple head of cattle. She has done this almost as long as she can remember.
“My family has always raised livestock, since I was a little girl,” Luensmann said.
There’s a nice story behind her two little cows. And to understand it, you have to go back to one of the most important days in Luensmann’s life.
In 2005, she won the Grand Champion Junior Market Steer prize at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. It’s a moment any kid who ever raised an animal for a livestock show dreams about.
Just ask Justin Cleghorn. He said he’ll never forget that day 21 years ago, when his steer won the grand prize. He was a senior in high school and he’d been showing animals since he was a little boy.
“And so I’d been going to Houston every single year since I was in the fourth grade. My sisters had participated in it. They were older than I was. And so, from a family standpoint, it was the last time that we were going to get to participate,” he said.
He works with cattle now, a career decision heavily influenced by his victory at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo.
“I do work for Cactus Cattle Feeders out of Amarillo, Texas,” he said.
But for Luensmann, raising show animals led to something more than just the $75,000 scholarship. About a year after that, she met a boy named Brad.
“I met him at a show, actually, where we were both showing goats,” she said.
They became high school sweethearts and both went to Texas A&M University. And when Brad asked Luensmann to marry him, she posed for her wedding photo in front of a herd of cattle.
The life they now live, she says, is profoundly better because of all that scholarship money.
“This enabled me to go to school and to pursue my dreams and to get my education and to become an environmental engineer,” she said. “And not only that, now, I was able to save up enough money to buy a nice house.”
And here’s something else she managed to save money to buy: the two cows in her backyard. She gave them to her husband as a wedding gift.