FORT WORTH -- Avery Roesler is really proud of an award she won at the Stock Show.
"I wanted to sleep wearing the buckle last night," she said.
Working with her family to prepare four longhorns for the trip back to the R4 Ranch in Krum, Avery, 7, kept touching the heavy gold-plated rectangle on her belt. It bestowed first place in the Fort Worth Stock Show Junior Texas Longhorn Breeders of Tomorrow 2013 Showmanship. It also really dressed up her outfit, accented with flowery filigree and two glistening blue stones. And it is as big as both her hands together.
After competing in Texas Longhorn Breeders Association of America-sanctioned events since she was 3, Avery has practically papered the walls of her bedroom with ribbons and photos of longhorns that helped win them.
The steer who helped her get the buckle is now her favorite. An 8-month-old brown and white fellow, TTT Magneto had to settle for second in his own competition. But his demeanor made Avery look better than any other human in the arena.
"He's very nice and kind of walks himself and sets himself up," she said. "He's really easy to work with."
Another 8-month-old steer, R4 Wolverine, took first place in his class. An 8-month-old bull, TTT Midnight Special, took fifth, but a 4-month-old heifer calf named R4 Trail of Roses just caused trouble, Avery said.
"I'd rather show a steer or a bull than a heifer, 'cause they're a little crazy," she said. "She gets jealous of the other heifers and freaks out. She jumps and tries to pull away while I'm showing her."
The ranch's business depends on longhorns of Magneto's and Wolverine's temperament, said Avery's mom, Amy Roesler.
"Our clients like show calves because they're looking for pasture pets," she said. "Safety is our first concern. Any that show they can't be trusted with kids become hamburger."
Longhorns are beef animals, said Avery's dad, James Roesler, a Utah transplant. They have leaner meat than other cattle breeds, he added, but that's far from the only thing that makes the breed attractive.
"They always have been large prairie animals, living on a lot less forage, less susceptible to disease, more easily calving," James Roesler said. "Nature made them that way or they wouldn't have survived."
Avery and her mom do most of the work on the R4 Ranch -- a name that reflects the family (4-year-old J.P. is the fourth R). James Roesler is a pilot for Hunt Oil Co. and flies so much that he can't be there for a lot of what has to be done.
Amy Roesler, who was born in Garland and grew up in Plano, is a mom first, a ranch manager second and a full-time student third. She's taking 20 hours this semester at the University of North Texas and hopes to earn a degree in English and someday teach secondary school.
Full schedules leave little time for anything but work, but Amy and James Roesler wouldn't trade with anyone, he said.
"We get one date night a month," he said. "This is who we are. It's our lifestyle."
The animals take a lot of work, but they bring the family together, Amy Roesler said.
"We got into showing for the kids," she said. "It gives us more time with them."