A Christmas poem by Larry Smith

The wind was blowing and the snow was deep

The cattle were bedded down and the kids were fast asleep

The night had come for Santa’s rounds to all the ranches and Texas towns

Now, Santa had never failed to deliver his goods

From the plains of Texas to the deep piney woods

But, on this night, a terrible storm

Had threatened to ground him until the morn

And ground him it did with flurries of snow

So intense that his reindeer could not see where to go

But, on this night, when all seemed lost

Santa was determined, regardless the cost

He must find his way, this much he knew

But, it was his reindeer that always got him through

He was in the panhandle above the Texas plains

Caught in a snow bank clutching tight to the reins

When up plodded “Big Tex” a massive Longhorn steer

Santa took one look at Tex and the answer was clear

No one knew Texas like this great breed

I’ll just jump on his back and give him the lead

Thought Santa with a grin

Tex just stood there while Santa settled in

And off they went with toys galore

Out of the snow bank across Texas to every door

From Amarillo to El Paso and the ranches between

Down to Brownsville and along the coastal scene

Big Tex knew this land like the back of his hoof

He walked up to every door, too big for the roof

He had trailed all over Texas in days gone by

Not one child’s home missed his watchful eye

He covered East Texas and Tyler, too

That was after Houston and the Big Bayou

Through the Big Thicket to points unknown

Tex knew them all cause Texas was his home

From Texarkana to Dallas they raced the clock

For Santa had toys for every sock

Ol’ Tex kept going at a steady gait

His task was clear-They couldn’t be late

They galloped around Fort Worth and Tex let out a “moo”

He liked this town they were passing through

For this was his home in days gone by

When LS Ranches was riding high

Tex knew Duke, the President’s best

Neiman’s Red River and all the rest

Who left that ranch to find their fame

Now Big Tex could lay his claim

As Santa’s friend this Christmas year

Delivering gifts and spreading cheer

On to Abilene-Texas, not Kansas

Tex had seen them all in trail driving glances

The snow was deep but Tex was strong

And Santa knew it wouldn’t be long

Before they were back to his sleigh and reindeer

The stars were shining-It was beginning to clear

Up the Caprock and across the High Plains

Santa and Tex together laying claim again

That in Texas the Longhorn is king

They have survived all that nature could bring

And on this night when Santa had need

Of a dependable friend gallant of deed

Tex was the one who came to his aid

Another Longhorn legend that will never fade

Tex took Santa right up to the sleigh

And winked at the reindeer as if to say

“I’m Big Tex, The Lead Steer of Texas.”

Come back to see me when you can

I’ll be right here for this is “My” land

And as they disappeared into the sky

Tex hooked a horn to say “Goodbye”

Now, you may not believe all this is true

And, if you don’t, I say to you

“Go by the Stockyards and look in the pens”

You might see Big Tex if you’re lucky that day

For after Christmas he went there to stay

Cowtown is home now for this “Legend” you see

There’s no place Tex would rather be

His coat is white as the driven snow

With a face of brown and eyes all aglow

He’s happy and contented now for a job well done

That’s the story of Longhorns-They’re second to none

But Tex is the best He’ll wink to say

“I’m Big Tex, The Lead Steer of Texas

and, I like it that way!”


The poem, written in October of 1986, was published that year and featured on the front page of the Dec.13 issue of the Fort Worth Star Telegram with a color photo of Santa astride Big Tex.

The second front carried the article and a photo of the 4th and 5th graders of Lily B. Clayton Elementary School who drew the illustrations for the book.



During the great trail drives of Longhorn cattle out of Texas, there was always a steer that would take the lead, one that seemed to instinctively  know where they were going. The lead steer always moved with a little swifter gate with his head held high. He was in command and the other steers would faithfully follow this leader. Even today, the ranches that preserve the mighty Texas Longhorn breed of cattle have lead steers. The King Ranch keeps a special herd just to raise lead steers for the long drives across this huge Texas ranch. LS Ranches’ lead steer was a tall, sinewy steer named “Loopey” who led many trail drives into Fort Worth during the 1980’s. In 1981, 96 LS Longhorn steers were used to recreate a trail drive in the Fort Worth Stockyards. The resulting photos, videos and film footage were used for many years before Fort Worth established ‘The Fort Worth Herd”.

The Texas Historical Commission utilized a photo from that 1981 recreation on the front of their 2002 travel guide on  “The Chisolm Trail”. The photo was taken by The Texas Department of Transportation and depicts a Trail Boss of the late 1800’s.

Groesbeck Journal

P.O. Box 440
Groesbeck, TX 76642
Phone: 254-729-5103
Fax: 254-729-0362