MERCEDES — A winner! By a horn!

Kelsey Bordovsky was feeling pretty good about her success yesterday at the Jr. Longhorn Show.

“The heifer I won with actually won last year, so it felt good having a back-to-back win with her,” said Kelsey, 18, who showed five longhorns at the 80th Annual Rio Grande Valley Livestock Show.

How did she do it?

“I think her horn,” said Kelsey, a Rivera resident who’s finishing her senior year at Academy High School in Kingsville.

“When you enter a longhorn they judge horn and hide first,” Kelsey said. “That particular heifer had a wide horn set, and her markings are real flashy and eye appealing, so she catches your eye when she walks out in the ring.”

She wasn’t the only one enjoying success after the show. Sarah Dupont, 13, did pretty well, too.

“I got first in one class and second in another and I was reserve breed champion,” said Sarah, a seventh grader at Ricardo Middle School in Kingsville.

“I’m very proud of how I did,” she added.

Raising and showing longhorns presents a special challenge.

“It’s a pretty scary animal. I mean, there are horns flying everywhere,” she said with a smile.

“We have to walk them and sometimes they’re not so happy about it,” she said. “We have to learn how to walk them with their horns, like managing their horns, the length. We’re learning our position and they’re learning theirs.”

Both young ladies had spent months preparing their animals to show.

“To get her ready I go out there every day and I feed her, walk her and mess with her with the show stick,” Kelsey said. “That way she gets used to it. The main thing is just spending time with her.”

She and her family had arrived at the livestock show at 3 a.m.

“We washed everything and then we brought ‘em in and sprayed sheen on them to make them shiny,” she said. “Then we set everything up and let them drink some water and kind of let them rest. Right before showtime we put their show halters on, brushed them off again and made sure they were shiny again.”

Longhorns aren’t all that hard to raise, Kelsey said.

“The longhorns, honestly, you don’t have to do much,” she said. “When we get home we put them out to pasture until our next show.”

She and her family have been raising longhorns for years.

“We sell some of them and then we show some of them,” she said. “A lot of people keep them as pets just out in their yards.”

There’s another reason she likes showing longhorns.

“In the longhorn competition there’s a lot of scholarship money, so that’s a big motivation for me,” she said.

She plans to study agribusiness and animal science after high school.