Association MemberJoin Rodeo News
Meet the Member Dalton Denney
story by Lindsay King
In Clinton, Oklahoma, it is not an uncommon sight for a loaded horse trailer to be parked at a high school football or baseball game. It usually belongs to Dalton Denney’s family as they cheer him on at the field only to do the same thing the next day at an arena. “Life is busy and we really don’t have many weekends off. I get out of practice and then go rope where most kids will just go home and eat. It is a lot of fun, it keeps me out of trouble I guess,” the Clinton High School junior jokes. In addition to football and baseball, this 17-year-old also plays basketball in the winter. His year-round sport, and first choice, is and always will be rodeo. But just like roping, baseball has come naturally to Dalton and it is something he has loved since he was little.
Unlike baseball, roping is a family tradition. Both his dad (John) and brother (Brady, now 27) roped calves growing up. “My dad still ropes when he has time. He used to rope in the AQHA.” Grandma Denney got John started way back when and also taught Dalton the trade. “One day we were moving feeder calves to a new pen and I remember getting to chase them around and throwing my rope at them over and over. That was probably the first time I ever roped (age 10) a live calf.” It took off from there and Dalton started going to some HOYRAs. The last two years, Dalton was the HOYRA tie-down champion and won the all-around title in 2018.
Three years ago, Dalton won a round in the breakaway at the NLBRA finals. “That was one of my proudest moments because I was riding a horse that I had first learned to rope off of and the competition was tough.” High-intensity situations keeps Dalton on his toes. He’s played in both the baseball regional championship game and through the state baseball tournament. This fall he helped his football team make it to the semi-final round. “We have always said I can rodeo after high school, but I can only play sports now. I have always wanted to play college baseball, but if I can’t do that then rodeo will always be there for me.” Right now, Dalton has his eye on Southwestern Oklahoma State University.
Sports may have kept Dalton out of the arena at a few rodeos, but nothing gets him down. “There will always be another calf. I have learned that just because a run is going bad that doesn’t mean it can’t turn around and be really good. We always have to be ready for the unexpected.” Lessons in both patience and positivity were reinforced when Dalton was little. “I can remember my mom (Caren) telling my dad to keep his blinders on when he was roping back when I was growing up. Basically, I just keep my focus on what I need to do and not what everyone else is doing.” Dalton knew he would miss some key rodeos in favor of baseball games, but that didn’t stop him from always working towards making better and better calf runs.
Dalton’s favorite aspect of roping calves is the horsemanship and power needed to truly be great. “You have to be ready to rope of course, but you also need a good partner in your horse.” Dalton has ridden his fair share of calf horses that weren’t the type of partner he was looking for. “I used to have a horse that the only way I could get him in the box was to back him. It taught me a lot of patience and to always be ready because you never know when things will align.”