A Fort Worth 'urban ranching' company paid $195,000 for the Stock Show's best steer

Gordon Dickson
Fort Worth Star-Telegram

FORT WORTH, Texas — One of North Texas’ most prominent real estate companies paid $195,000 for the grand champion steer on Feb. 9 during the Sale of Champions, an old-school auction that brought the 23-day Fort Worth Stock Show & Rodeo to its close.

Hillwood, which was founded by developer Ross Perot Jr. and manages the enormous AllianceTexas corridor in far north Fort Worth, submitted the winning bid for Bentley, a 1,399-pound European crossbred steer raised by Aven Horn, 13, of Abilene.

“We’re very supportive of agricultural folks who work hard, like Aven,” Hillwood president Mike Berry said during a news conference with Horn and her parents after the sale. Hillwood manages Fort Worth’s Alliance Airport and thousands of surrounding acres.

Berry noted that it’s common for cattle to graze on much of Hillwood’s land that isn’t yet developed for residential, industrial or retail purposes. He described the practice as “urban ranching.”

“I appreciate the work done by people who raise livestock,” Berry said. “We look for kids who have really put the work into it.”

Bentley will be donated to the Arlington Heights FFA program, Berry said.

Eventually, the animal probably will be sold for slaughter, as is the case with many of the more than 200 steers, pigs and other animals sold at auction on Feb. 9.

For the Horn family, Aven’s victory was a bit of an encore performance.

Her brother, Jagger, now 17, won the Fort Worth Stock Show junior steer competition in 2016. He received $210,000 for his steer, which was also bought by Hillwood.

As grand champions, the Horn siblings are now ineligible to compete in future Fort Worth Stock Show events, but their family has nothing but good things to say about Tarrant County’s annual attraction.

“It was awesome,” Aven Horn said of her experience walking Bentley though the auction ring in front of a packed crowd of hundreds of prospective bidders and observers.

“I was nervous before it started,” she said,” but once I got in the ring all the nerves just went away.”

The price for the grand champion has declined a bit in recent years — the best steer in 2017 sold or $240,000 — but Horn’s parents say they’re thrilled with this year’s $195,000 price. The Fort Worth Stock Show, unlike stock shows in other states, lets the winners keep all the money — and that makes it possible for participants to take part in the show without asking for donations to cover their expenses.

“We’re so fortunate we live in Texas and have shows like Fort Worth,” Aven Horn’s mother, Brek Horn, said. “We don’t have to ask family members, or people we do business with, for money.”

The family owns Horn Livestock in Anson, a few miles north of Abilene.