As we look forward to the Houston festivities next week, we thought it would be fun to share some of our most favorite photos from the Houston Brahman Show over the last 40 years, and the stories that go with them.
+WR Suva 203, at the 1980 Houston Livestock Show, pictured with baby Rachel Williams Cutrer. This is one of our favorite pics of all time. Tammie Watts was the showman of Suva. Pictured in the background are Dr. Bill Turner and Bob Massey.
Miss V8 450/3 “Mary Poppins” – This was my very first time to show at Houston in 1988 as you can see from the backdrop. This heifer was bred by my grandpa Sloan Williams and he let me show her, and gave me many great memories.
Miss V8 725/3 “Amber” – 1991 Grand Champion Female at Houston Shown by Rachel, age 12. This is a personal favorite, because today I tell people “I showed the champion heifer at Houston when I was 12, and they don’t believe me! But this picture proves it. I still remember this day so vividly. A month earlier, there was a show at Shreveport, but I couldn’t go because I couldn’t miss school. James showed Amber and she showed terrible! James said, ‘That heifer knows Rachel, she shows best for Rachel, Rachel is going to have to show her at Houston if she stands a chance to win.” So in they sent me, and in I went, with James Daniel right there beside me. This was my bred-and-owned heifer. And you can tell by the side eye Angie Eppler is giving in the picture that she probably wasn’t acting the best. But she knew me and we were a team. Very special people in this photo including l-r: Sloan Williams, Ed Cullers, Richard Sturlese, Wendell Schroni, me showing, James Daniel on the calf, my grandpa Gene Johnston, my grandma Mollie Williams in black, Angie Eppler the princess and Neely Young the queen.
1995 Houston Livestock Show – Rachel showing Miss V8 600/4 “Whitney” Again, I love this photo for so many reasons, but mostly the people in this picture. She was the Reserve Grand Champion Female at that show. She was bred by Sloan Williams and I was able to show her in my junior career. The people in this photo are my Honduras family: The Canahuati’s. They owned an interest in Whitney and Eugenio, my Honduran brother, showed the calf with me. Pictured left to right are Andres Canahuati, Robbie Canahuati, Dr. Bill Turner, Wayne Eppler, Mike Partin, me and Eugenio showing, and then on the far right is Janie and Roberto Canahuati. Ironically, this year in 2020 – over 15 years later – the Canahuati’s will also be joining us in Houston. The people are what make this picture so special.
1996 Houston Open Show, and me showing my all time favorite show heifer Miss V8 180/5. She was also bred by Sloan Williams and he generously allowed me to show her. At this show, she was the Reserve Calf Champion. This heifer was one of the most consistent winners on the show circuit in 1996-1997. The little girl in khaki and the southwest shirt – you might recognize as the lovely Luisa Muskus. Judge was Jim Nettles and pictured with me is Sloan Williams.
2009 – Miss V8 888/6 This one is the one I dubbed “My 4-H Project” because her mother, Pittman, was really close to getting in the Register of Renown, but 888 was the last progeny of her so I was really hoping she would do well and get points to get Pittman in the Register of Renown. So, me and Matt Karisch made a pact. I told Matt, I will commit to 888. I’ll show her. I’ll come to the show barn every day and practice her, and I’ll do everything with her. I’m 30 years old but it’ll be just like it’s my 4-H project. I’ll be there every day. And sure enough, she won her class and Reserve Division Champion, and got Pitman in the Register of Renown. That’s why Matt has that awesome smile on his face – because Rachel’s 4-H project proved to be a success.
2010 – Brandon and Rachel This was our official “engagement photo”. This photo was taken on the heifer show morning, and we had gotten engaged the day before. We were so tired from working on the crew that we just at at Jack in the Box after we finished working the Houston sale that night. Bruce from Show Champions took this photo. We opted for a simple wedding to save money, and we didn’t take engagement photos, and so this is the one we have always used.
2011 – Adrian Land and Miss V8 137/7 “Diva” Reserve Grand Champion Female Owned at that time by Adrian Land II One of my favorite Houston memories again because of the people and the memories. That summer before, Adrian and I worked together at the V8 show barn. We had become best friends. We spent nearly every day, all day together, mostly listening to Fergie music. Adrian always loved Diva and bought her from my grandfather. Her name was “Diva” because of her personality – she was DEFINITELY a Diva! Diva was by far our favorite on the show string, she was just like what we thought was the PERFECT heifer of that time period. This picture represents so many good memories though, between me, Brandon, Adrian, Matt Karisch and Brandi Karisch. I never got to show Diva, and never owned her, but was just a full time Diva supporter, and loved every minute of it.
These next few photos all revolve around +Miss V8 382/7, and the wonderful/horrific memories of showing her at Houston that year. If you know this story, 382 wasn’t even really slated to go to Houston, because we also had 341 in that same class, and 341 was what we perceived as the better cow/calf pair. But, at the last minute, we put 382 on the trailer.
So initially, Brandon and Kolten were showing 341’s pair, and my dad and I were showing 382. I share this photo, because this is PROOF that I was showing the calf lol.
So in the class, 382 ended up winning 1st and 341 won 2nd. They also went on to be Senior Champion and Reserve Senior Champion Females. But, if you were at this show – then you might remember the HORRIFIC incident of this calf going CRAZY on me while I was showing it. I mean, running, pawing, dragging me all over the ring. I laugh now because my Dad just kept on leading the cow and never even looked back to help me. I got myself up off the green shavings, dusted off myself, and tried to catch up to him halfway across the ring. Ha. Competitiveness runs in our family lol. But, after that class, I had had ENOUGH. Kolten and Brandon still had to go back in the senior drive with their pair that got 2nd, so I begged Evan Acevedo to take her in. I was like, “Evan, you have got to take her, I can’t do it…” And so Evan stepped up and did it. And they won Senior Champion.
By the time it got to the grand drive, me, Evan, Larry Fisher, and Kolten Thigpen had all shown the calf. By that time, we just were like “whatever…let the calf go….she’ll just follow her mom. It was a fiasco. But a memorable show if you were there watching. But this picture, is so special. Most people know that Mr. Jeff Smith, Brandon’s mentor, originally owned half of 382. She was an embryo Brandon and Mr. Jeff purchased before me and Brandon got married. Brandon moved to Texas and brought 382 with him. My grandpa let us brand her V8. Mr. Jeff and Mrs. Tammy gave us their half for our wedding present. And then, 382 has made us and our herd. She is the mother of Boom Shaka Laka and the grandmother of Dutton and Boom Town. By this time, Mr. Jeff had been called to heaven. By the time the show was wrapping up, we honestly thought we had a chance for 382 to win. The entire Smith family gathered with us in the makeup ring, and prayed. We prayed a prayer of thanks to Mr. Jeff. And the entire Smith family was there pictured in this photo standing with us accepting our award: Dustin, Jessica, Mrs. Tammy Smith (holding the trophy), Brandon, Delle, Rachel, and Jason. Just amazing people and love.
2013 – Mr. V8 259/7 Winning Reserve Calf Champion This one was the beginning of a slight “shift in the game” for the type of cattle we were raising. From day one, we loved 259. We loved his moderate size, muscle, clean sheath, low birthweight. But, some critics of him said “Oh, he’ll never make a show bull because he’s too small!” We still believed in him, and believed that beef industry judges would appreciate all the good things he has to offer. And, it was true. 259 was Reserve Calf Champion here, and went on to be 2013 Reserve National Champion under a 3-man judges panel. Since, he has been one of the most widely used Brahman sires of all time. He was the first bull that represented our shift towards moderate frame, good carcass, but high quality visual bulls.
2014 – Miss V8 709/7 Reserve Grand Champion Female for Mollie Under the 3-Man Judges System Taken at like 11:30 p.m. that night, the 3-man judges system was a show to remember. This was during a time where many Brahman breeders were calling for show ring ethics reform. A 3-man judging panel was created to provide an opportunity for an equal playing field. JDH Locke Division’s JDH Babette was champion cow that year, and we were reserve with Mollie’s 709 heifer. It was a long, tiring day, but one we were very proud of. The judges for this show were Joe Mask, Doug Pierce, and Fabio Jaramillo of Colombia. 709 is one of our leading donors today at BRC.
“Brandon Showing 694 Backwards At Houston” This one is a funny one and an inside joke for me and Brandon. This heifer was SO hard to show. I mean, bull headed, stubborn, just plain tough. But she was GOOD. So we always had to bring her. On this day, the big screen at Houston was spooking her. So, Brandon turned her around and showed her backwards the entire time. I was in the stands freaking out. But, Brandon did what he had to do. She was a Reserve Division Champion. But I’m still glad this photo exists so I can tease him with “remember that time you showed 694 backwards in Houston…”
“Remember when Noble Won Houston? No. Noble never won Houston. But I can’t tell you how many times people say that. There are people who will flat out argue with me, saying “No — I was there — I saw him win Houston.” It’s become an inside joke. But no, for the record, Noble never won Houston. His 2nd year, he was Division Champion, being shown here by Brandy Barnes. His last year, he was 2nd in class. We love him no matter what – Houston or no Houston. And, another little known fact is that Noble and Brandon hated each other. They had a “Come to Jesus Meeting” and Noble won. Brandon couldn’t show him. But we knew he was good and needed to be shown. So, we asked Brandy to take him. Everyone knows Brandy has this amazing way with animals. We thought – if anyone can turn him around, it’ll be Brandy. And she did. She did an amazing job on him and without Brandy, there would be no Noble showing.
These next few photos revolve around Miss V8 21/8, our beloved Boom Shaka Laka, the 2 time Houston Grand Champion and Champion of the World.
In this picture, Brandon and I had 3 of the 4 division champions in the 2016 Houston Champion Drive. Brandon of course took 21, because they had a bond like no other. I took our senior champion, 902. I am smiling so big in this photo, because, a lot of people know, it’s hard to get around a good big cow. The judge here is Cesar Payan. In my opinion, one of the greatest judges of Brahman cattle. And one of the greatest inspirations in the Brahman breed. Just before he went to pick the champion, he rounded around the back of my heifer, as if to pick her as the champion. But he didn’t slap her. He said, “Raquel, you have a beautiful cow, but you aren’t going to be the champion….” and then he passed me up and slapped 21 and Brandon! I am smiling so big because I DIDN’T WANT TO WIN! I wanted Brandon to win. And Brandon’s dream came true with his favorite cow. It was the best day.
So the next year rolls around, and 21 has to come back and defend her title. She had gotten beat at San Antonio the week before by another one of our heifers, 103, and she had also gotten beat at the National Show. But Kolten Thigpen was on a mission. Kolten and Pete at our show barn. They weren’t going to let 21 get de-throned. This is very special because I wanted to show the calf, but we chose to have Britt Larson do it. Britt was our assistant manager for two years. He spent as much time dedicated to our program as anyone. Brandon said, “Rachel, I want Britt on the calf.” So there they went. And I stood on the sidelines, in the makeup ring. Stuart Watkins stood on one side of me, and Alfredo Muskus Jr was standing on the other side. They held my hands while Brandon was in the drive. this is when Judge Doug Husfeld chose 21 to make Brahman breed history – back to back Houston Grand Champion Females. Brandon’s look is gratitude and satisfaction. Britt’s is sheer happiness. Another special day for us.
This one is special, this is right after 21 won, but Brandon and Tony Moreno. Tony is such a special friend to us, and he is one of the true icons of the Brahman breed. His presentation of the famous Colombian hat to Brandon is one we treasure.
This one we love, because it’s not necessarily a “every smile and pose” picture. You can see, Tony and me and sharing a special moment. This man has been a mentor to me for all my life, and when he gives advice, I listen. I have made several changes to our program based on Tony’s feedback that have really helped me improve. And, I love Manuel’s position here. As always, Manuel is there helping. He was most concerned with making sure 21 looked perfect for the picture, and had her ears up, rather than posing. He’s always someone we can count on.
“Sweetie” – 2019 Grand Champion Female The thing I love about this photo is Sweetie’s face. And, call us crazy, but we believe these animals know. They know and understand what’s going on. Sweetie obviously had a darling personality, and she just was able to “turn it on” when she went in the show ring. I feel like her face here is just sheer happiness, and if she could talk, she would be saying “Thank you Brahman friends…”
There’s no doubt that the Houston Livestock Show is the biggest event of the year for USA Brahman breeders. We hope that this year you are able to make your own wonderful memories at the show just like we have through the years.
Check out our Houston schedule of events and be sure to come by our new BRC stalls at the show. We hope to see you!