Sunday, September 11, 2011

Trail Ride at Tavaputs Ranch: In Memory of Tate D. Jensen

          My husband Tim and I have been on two trail rides and a cattle drive led by Rancher Tate Jensen.  Tate was the consummate cowboy—an excellent cattleman, horseman, and a gentle soul.  He had infinite patience with us greenhorns on the trail rides.  
Tragically, Tate was murdered on August 28, 2011.  Our hearts go out to his parents, Butch and Jeannie Jensen.  This re-post (originally posted in April of 2011) is dedicated to the memory of Tate Jensen. 

Forever tall in the saddle:  Tate Jensen 1980-2011

        Head ‘em up, move ‘em out.  It’s time for our trail ride at Tavaputs Ranch in Eastern Utah.  I’m here with my husband Tim, sister-in-law Anne Marie, and niece Amber.  Ranchers Butch and Tate match each of us with a horse, saddle ‘em up and teach us greenhorns the ropes.  

 We start through a towering aspen forest under an azure sky.  Tate is in the lead and Butch brings up the rear with his trusty cow horse; three border collies accompany us.  As we dip into the valley Tate points to the left and we turn our heads in time to see a thundering herd of elk, several hundred of them kicking up dust on their way across a distant meadow.  As we re-enter the forest we hear the elk squealing as they charge through the valley below.
Half an hour into the ride we trot down a hill to a stock pond where 125 head of cattle are gathered.  Tate turns to Butch and says:  “These cattle look like they’re ready to move up to pasture on top of the mountain.”  Butch and Tate turn to the four of us:  “How about it?” they ask, “Are you interested in doing some cowboying?”  Are we!
Butch instructs us to whoop it up and holler as he and Tate move the cattle away from the pond.  Tate stays to the left of the herd and Butch and the dogs stay to the right.  Our orders are to ride behind the cows, giving a yip and a yell to let the cows know they’re on a drive.  And so off we go, running cattle across the range.

Amber, Rancher Butch Jensen, and the dogs—keeping the cattle in line.
We run the cattle for 2 miles, cows mooing and calves bawling.  Whenever a cow or calf gets out of line one of the border collies is on its heels, chasing it back to the herd.  It’s fascinating to watch the border collies in action and also to be a part of this cattle drive.  As my sister-in-law said - who could have planned an outing like this in their wildest imagination?  Our niece is having the time of her life and and says she’d love to work, live on or own a ranch someday. 

Riding the Range
When we arrive on the mountaintop Tate opens a gate and we stop to let the cattle know it’s time to slow down and enter their new pasture.  Tate makes a final count of cows and calves and closes the gate behind them.
The horses are ready for quittin’ time.  They know the way home, turn left along a fence line and carry us back to the corral.   Anne Marie and Amber conclude that this is one of the most amazing things they’ve ever done.  I couldn’t agree more.

Anne Marie and Tate guard the left side.

One of my memories of Tate on the trail:

As we ran the cattle up through the valley one cow turned around and glared at me and my horse "Stubby".  Over and over, all the way to the top of the mountain, the same cow stopped to stare menacingly at us.  
"Uh, Tate" I said, "I'm afraid this cow is going to charge me and Stubby.  Look at the way she glares at us!"  
 "That cow?  Naw, she'd never charge you.  Don't worry—she's just bluffing."   
I was immediately reassured, figuring that Tate knew his cows much better than I did.  Now, maybe Tate was just trying to put my mind at ease and that cow actually could have charged ... but no matter; Tate's calm, soothing manner was just what I needed to finish the cattle drive with confidence.

Tributes for Tate Jensen can be found at these sites: 

1 comment:

  1. This entry broke my heart. What a loss for the corps of conservation-minded cowboys. The tributes to Tate Jensen are lovely.

    I'm so sorry to learn that you lost this friend. I hope Tavaputs continues with this great tradition.