Open Arms Therapy (OAT) - Dalhart (TX) equine therapy for the disabled

Cindy Hiner

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Cindy Hiner - Client Advocate, Open Arms Therapy

Cindy Hiner was born October 26, 1953 in a very small rural community in eastern Colorado where her family ran a dry land farming and cattle operation.  In her early teen years her family moved to the mountains in Canon City, Colorado where her step father opened an outfitters company. They took hunters on horseback in to the high country of Colorado during hunting season where they packed tents and food on pack horses up to the timber line and set up camp. The trips they took we were packed in for a week to two and sometimes longer if the snow got too deep. Cindy says “I can remember my mother always packed a small birthday cake in the food box.  I spent my Birthday up in the high country on horseback in the most beautiful country in the world.”

The high School that Cindy attended had a high school rodeo club. That was her first experience in barrel racing and pole bending.  She loved it. Cindy became Fremont county rodeo queen in 1969. Cindy was active in rodeo for the next four years of high school. She enjoyed competing in team penning when she grew older.

After High school Cindy married and had three children. Her children were very involved with 4-H and they raised and showed Hogs, Sheep and Dogs. It was because of raising dogs in 4-H that the family became involved with being puppy raisers for guide dogs out of Colorado Deaf Blind School In Colorado Springs Colorado.  Cindy said “We would raise the puppies for one year then they would return to the school for advanced training to become a guide dog.”   In March of 1995 Cindy completed the Professional Dog grooming course From Beaugay’s School of Dog Grooming in Los Altos California.

In 1998 Cindy was employed in the swine industry for Newsham Hybrids.  Cindy worked in a 5,000 head sow unit and later was a farm manager for an offsite nursery.  She then went into the Genetic side of Data entry. After 8 years with Newsham hybrids they closed and sold all breeding stock.
Cindy and her husband Rocky moved to Dalhart in 2004 where he was employed by Premium Standard Farms.  Cindy recalls “I starting volunteering for a local dog shelter in Dalhart called D.A.W.G.S. and over the next couple years I was very involved with caring, training, grooming, and finding homes for unwanted dogs.”

Cindy’s eyes sparkle when she remembers how “in 2006 a very special little boy came to live with us, our grandson Caleb, with all of Caleb’s special needs I started devoting all my time to this very special little boy.”  Cindy met Carl Bailey, founder of OAT, when he came by their home and told them of the dream he had for a therapeutic riding center for the disabled. He told Cindy about his little horse “Red” and a little girl named Destiny and how her uncle and father would bring her over to his place to ride.  The doctors had said that the riding would help her. Carl also shared his dream of having a center for all the children and adults in our area. Carl meet Caleb that day and Cindy recalls “I could see it in Carl’s eyes that this truly was a calling from god for Carl to do this.”  That was the day we became involved with Carl’s dream that later became Open Arms Therapy.  Cindy is also proud to say “I’m a Mother of 3 and a stepmother of 3 with 27 beautiful grandchildren.”

In addition to caring for Caleb as his primary care-giver; Cindy also serves on the Open Arms Therapy Board of Directors where she acts as a Client Advocate helping to find funding for each disabled adult or child from local, state and government organizations.  It was Cindy who found that Region 16 would help fund the visually impaired who are currently enrolled in the area schools.  Cindy also serves as a volunteer during the riding sessions where she either handles the horses or acts as side-walker for a child.  Cindy’s horse “Biscuit” was donated by Larry McEvers to Caleb and the program and Cindy continues to work with Biscuit teaching him and helping him become a full-time therapy horse.   Open Arms Therapy is very thankful for Cindy and all that she does for the program.  She has her hands full and yet always wears a smile!

Cindy (5 mos) with her mother

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