Dan Utley was born and raised on a farm near Salado in Bell County, Central Texas. His only experience at riding was riding farm animals.
His colorful rodeo career started in the early 20’s. He was a contestant at Belton’s first July 4th rodeo in 1924 where he is shown in this photo dogging a steer.
In the mid 20’s he moved to San Angelo. While working on the Spade Ranch he journed to New York and participated in the rodeo at Madison Square Garden where he won an engraved pocket watch for 1st in the Wild Horse Race.
In 1928 he married the late Mrs. J (Velma) Lane and they traveled around to rodeos for several years. In 1929 they went to Arizona where Dan set a record for the fastest time in Bull Dogging for Arizona. They then went up to Oklahoma, Kansas, Iowa and to Chicago where Dan was used in a movie to ride a bucking horse for Hoot Gibson.
One of Dan’s biggest wins was in 1929 at the W.T. Johnson Rodeo in San Antonio. He won the bronc riding on some of the toughest horses Johnson had and the All Round and received the gold and silver inlaid saddle. He later sold the saddle to Johnson who used it on one of the white flag horses. When Johnson sold out to Colburn and Knight the saddle went with the stock.
In 1930 while working at the Burrough’s Ranch he went to Fort Worth and won the day money riding “5 minutes to Mid Night”, then losing a stirrup on “Done Gone” kept him out of the finals.
According to the El Paso Times, in October of 1930 he was acclaimed the best all round cowboy of the W.T. Johnson Rodeo at El Paso. He was presented the Gold Spurs by Actions Stories Magazine and the Ace High Magazine Loving Cup. It was that year that he went to work for the Broome Ranch near San Angelo and was still with the Broome Ranch in 1934 when he traveled to England with Tex Austin’s Wild West Show, taking his wife with him.
He rode at Stamford every year because he held a steady ranch job and their records show that he won the bronc riding event in 1933, 1935, 1936, and 1937. One year at Stamford he gave an exhibition ride on a horse called “Doctor Blackwell” for Will Rogers. It is said that Dan Utley was the only man that could ride this horse.
In August of 1935 the Sweetwater Reporter said, “On a reride, Dan Utley, the colorful little San Angelo cowboy, rode the heretofore unridden “Amarillo Bay” in the most beautiful exhibition of the three days and won the money in the bronc riding contest”.
In July of 1937 the Big Springs Herald proclaims: Dan Utley of San Angelo won the spurs, 1st place over the three-day bronc riding event.”
In the early 1930’s Dan broke his neck while working at the Broome Ranch. In the early 1950′ he broke his neck a second time while competing in the saddle bronc event at the Snyder, Texas rodeo. The third and final time he broke his neck was in a freak car accident out of Elko, Nevada Christmas of 1960 where he died where he died and is buried.