February 26, 1936
Dale’s first ranch job out of high school was at the McMillan Ranch near Milburn, Nebraska. He also worked on the U-Cross Ranch near Fawn Lake, a 6,000 cow ranch worked with the 1,000 head of horses and 20 or so cowboys. Dale has ranched and farmed with his dad, Jim Svoboda, Sr.,worked for M&R Cattle Company of Burwell and rode many horse penning cattle at Ericson, Burwell and Loup City sale barns.
Dale Svoboda has been a cowboy most of his life, having ridden, raised, traded, and worked with horses since he was a young man. The first horse he owned was a paint mare given to him by his dad in 1953 for high school graduation, a tradition he carried on with his oldest daughter on her graduation. Dale rode barebacks and saddle broncs in rodeos starting at age 17 when he traveled on gravel roads all the way to Harrison, Nebraska for a high school rodeo, the only one in the state at that time. In his young days, he also tried his hand at steer wrestling and bull riding, but the bucking horse events were where he was in his element. He won many buckles, trophies and saddles competing mostly in the Nebraska State Rodeo Association, but also Mid-States, PRCA permit-holder, and Old Timer Rodeo Association until his mid-fifties. One of Dale’s proud accomplishments was in 1969, winning the buckle in the Amateur Saddle Bronc Riding event in Cheyenne, Wyoming, the first Nebraska cowboy to do so. Another memorable win was the trophy for the matched Saddle Bronc Riding at Nebraska’s Big Rodeo in Burwell in 1962, a competition between Nebraska and South Dakota cowboys. Dale also won the All-Around Saddle at the Johnstown Rodeo 3 years in a row, 1965, 1966 and1967. He has won NSRA All Around, Saddle Bronc Champion and Bareback Champion saddles, as well as several Runner-Up buckles. Dale was one of the original organizers of the Nebraska State Rodeo Association, along with brother Jim Svoboda, Jr. Dale was a tough competitor and enjoyed riding good stock. He and a paint bucking horse, “Tom Dooley” had many go-rounds. Dale competed at the Old Timer’s Rodeos in Hyannis where his team won the Wild Cow Milking even though when the dust settled, Dale had a broken leg. He also went as far as Texas to an Old Timer’s Rodeo and to the Finals in Nevada. The last “bronc” Dale was on was in December 2013, when he was working with M&R Cattle Company moving cattle and his saddle horse decided to try the 77 year old cowboy. One of the guys said he thought Dale had him rode after several jumps, but then the horse took a turn and ended the ride, which left Dale’s shoulder injured and unable to lift a saddle on a horse – time to hang it up!
Dale has been on the Board of Directors for Nebraska’s Big Rodeo in Burwell for 27 years. He has provided the stock for the Wild Horse Race at Burwell Rodeo for 4 years and is still the director for the Horse Show and Dinner Bell Derby, which he and his wife Elaine had done together for many years. Dale and Elaine enjoyed following grandson, Matthew Seidel, to high school rodeos where he used Grandpa’s rodeo equipment to ride saddle broncs and barebacks. Matthew saw first-hand that long lasting friendships are made in the rodeo world, as he commented that “Grandpa and Grandma knew and visited with old friends at every rodeo they went to with him”.
In 2013, Dale was featured in the Paint Horse Association Journal as a 50-year breeder of Paint Horses from 1963-2012. He is a lifetime member and served as an APHA director and on the board of the Nebraska Paint Horse Club. His favorite paint stallion and one of the best horses he ever owned was “Dixon’s Bandit”. Of the horses he bred and raised, Dale’s favorite was Red Pepper, a 1964 sorrel mare, which he used as a practice bucking horse, then rode her penning cattle at the sale barn. She was also a great brood mare, producing an APHA Champion.
Dale continues to work for M&R Cattle Company, mostly moving hay bales; buys and trades horses for the wild horse races; working on his 28th year on the Board of Directors for the Nebraska’s Big Rodeo; celebrating and sharing 80 years young of “wild west stories” with the kids and grandkids, and with old and new friends at the North Side “coffee shop and Rodeo Museum” in Burwell.