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Remembering A.C. Ekker

IMAG0054Starting in 1990 I had the opportunity to work for A.C. Ekker. He had a ranch in Southeast Utah in the area called Robbers Roost. I worked for him for 4 years. It turned out to be 4 years I’ll never forget.

I’d just like to share some of the things I remember the most about A.C.

A.C. was a good cowboy. He taught me a lot about handling cattle. Especially wild cattle. He was the best I’ve ever seen at handling wild cattle. He still had a lot of traditional cowboy values. More than once I saw him give some of our weekend help a lesson in cowboy etiquette.

One time a couple of young cowboys wanted to come and help us for a weekend. We were trying to coral some cattle at Twin Coral Flats. There was an old cow that was having a hard time keeping up.  A.C. hollered at me to leave her if I had a chance. As soon as he got the words out of his mouth, the two young cowboys ran over in front of me and cut the cow out, and drove her a little ways from the rest of the herd. A.C. didn’t say anything right then because we were getting close to the coral, and these cattle were hard to coral.

After we got the cattle in the coral and the gate shut, he called them aside and gave them a fairly severe lesson in cowboy etiquette. I almost thought they were going to cry. I don’t remember those two ever coming to help us again.

One of the things I learned to admire about A.C. was his straight forward honesty. If he liked you, you knew it. If he didn’t like you, you knew it.

Another thing I learned from A.C. was to have confidence in myself. He believed if someone else could do it, he could too. He also taught me that I could do anything I wanted too. I don’t think I would have ever started showing horses if he hadn’t taught me to believe in myself.

A.C. was a fierce competitor.He Won the Intercollegiate World Champion All Around Cowboy in college rodeo in 1969. He competed in every event. When he turned 40 he joined the Old Timers Professional Rodeo Association. Again he competed in every event. After a while he quit the rough stock and just entered the timed events.

I was working for him when he turned 50. That put him in a different age division. Next thing I knew he came home with a new saddle-bronc saddle. When I ask him about it he grinned and said, “I think I can beat them old bastards”.

Another thing I was always impressed with was A.C.’s resourcefulness. I guess that came from living most of your life out of town. He could fix about anything. It didn’t matter where he was or what he had to work with, he could always find a way to make it work.

Besides being a rancher and a rodeo cowboy, he also ran a successful dude business, and at one time he guided river trips, jeep tours, and was a commercial pilot. He started a business in Green River UT called Red Tail Aviation. He later sold that business, and his river business.

He was still doing quite a few dude rides when I started working for him. With his  intimidating personality, some of the guests didn’t like him very well the first day. Some of them were afraid of him. But by the end of the 5 day trip they would have followed him off the end of the earth. He always earned everyone’s respect by the end of the trip.

A.C. loved his life. He loved the horses, the cows, and his dogs. I couldn’t imagine him doing anything else with his life. A lot of people are never fortunate enough to do something they love for a living.

Even after I quit working for A.C. we still remained good friends, and I still went and helped him quite a bit. But I wanted to train horses. He encouraged me to do what I had always wanted to do.

A.C. Ekker was almost a legend. Everywhere I’ve been I run on to someone who knew him, and we share a few stories. Some people really liked him, and some people didn’t. Either way this was okay with him.

About a year after I quit working for him I moved to an area where there were more horses to ride. We still kept in touch, and he was always there to offer encouragement to me when I needed it.

I still think about him all the time, even though he’s not around anymore. The time I spent around him changed my life forever. When I remember A.C. and the days I spent at the Robbers Roost, I always smile.

 

Comments

  1. To A.C. Our friend….we will never forget our time at Robbers Roost, The Roost, Yer Home, You, the dogs, Singing in the saddle, Captain Morgan, and the time riding in the Canyon Lands…who knew you could crave wild cattle…so glad you graced our lives…You taught us to
    ” Seize The Moment”…a True modern Legend…You are what all the songs are all about…We Love You Don for putting this up…A. C. I am doing the Horse Therapy just like I told Ya…Happy Trails until we meet again…

  2. Melisa (Ekker) Patterson says:

    My dad (Kip Ekker) was AC’s first cousin, when my brother, sister and I wanted to start high school rodeo my dad called AC for help. AC invited us to the roost multiple times where he provided us with knowledge and confidence as well as some first rate horses. He was kind and respectful to my sister and I and tough where he needed to be. You are right he is a man that will never be forgotten and I often think of him, Tuffy his dog, and the roost and smile.

    • Mellisa, I remember your dad, and I think your brother came down and stayed with A.C. when I was still there. I think A.C. made an impact on everyone who met him. Thanks for reading my stories.
      Don

  3. James Edmunds says:

    I met A.C.Eller in 1996 when I lived in Caineville, Utah. Definitely a living legend, even then.