Texas longhorn breaks Guinness World Record for nearly 11-foot horns

FILE photo - wanderluster/iStock(GOODWATER, Ala.) -- A beloved Texas longhorn named Poncho Via has broken the Guinness World Record for its nearly 11-foot horns.

From tip to tip, Poncho's horns measure in at 10 feet and 7.4 inches, which is more than twice the width of a concert grand piano, according to Guinness.

The steer belongs to the Pope family in Alabama, who have raised him since was a 6-month-old weanling on their ranch called Green Acres in Goodwater, southeast of Birmingham.

Jeral Pope Sr. said he and his wife first came across Poncho when they were riding a hay wagon "somewhere out west" and spotted a group of longhorns.

"They stood out like anything on the crest of that mountain -- it was the prettiest thing," Pope Sr. said. "I told my wife, we got to have one of them."

Guinness announced last week that Poncho had beat out a fellow longhorn steer named Sato -- who is from Texas -- by just over an inch in length. He holds the title for both largest horn spread on a living steer and largest horn spread on a steer ever.

The Pope family began to wonder whether Poncho would beat the Guinness record when he was about 4 and they noticed his horns were growing straight out instead of curving up like most longhorns.

No two longhorns have the same variation in their horn development, said Jeral "Dennis" Pope Jr. Poncho's horns go straight out before curling at the end, making for an "impressive" tip-to-tip length, he said.

Even before his formal award, Poncho has been a local celebrity in Coosa County, according to the Pope family. Their neighbors often come stop by to see him and feed him apples, carrots and marshmallows.

Pope Sr. described Poncho as a "big, gentle character," despite the intimidating length of his horns.

"He's just a big pet," Pope Jr. said.

George Jones, a member of the family who works on the ranch and helps care for Poncho, recalled a time when the longhorn approached him while he was fishing on the pond, seeking attention.

As Jones was petting Poncho, a horsefly landed on the longhorn, causing him to turn his head and send his human friend into the water.

"I went airborne into the pond," Jones said. "He just knocked me completely off my feet into the water."

Pope Sr. is as "proud of a peacock" of Poncho, his son said.

"He likes to bring that positive influence to his family and to his community."

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