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

Dale Rollins

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Dale riding independantly in 2010

Dale Rollins riding Texas


Dale Rollins was born September 23, 1939 in Elroy Wisconsin to Henry and Maurine Rollins.  He was the second oldest of 5 children; the only son and 4 daughters.   Dale attended school and helped his father on the dairy farm until he left home at the age of sixteen.  While his 4 sisters (all living) remain in Wisconsin; Dale left home in 1956 to go to Mild City Montana where he rode and traded horses for a horse trader.  Several years later Dale decided to go to California.  There, he ‘cowboyed’ for about 8 months before returning to Montana.  Dale and a partner set up a horse business that lasted for about twenty years.  Dale has 3 children, a son and two daughters from a previous marriage.  George is 46 and lives in Washington.  Kristi Kay is 45 and lives in Canadian Texas.  Billie is 43 and lives here in Dalhart. 

During those younger years Dale held a professional Rodeo card.  While he never made rodeo a career, he did enjoy the occasional competition.  Growing up on a dairy farm provided him plenty of practice roping calves and he had become quite good at it.  His father also leased grass to area cattle farmers and Dale would assist with doctoring and moving the cattle.   Dale enjoyed work on horseback which eventually helped ‘steer’ him to Texas.

For fifteen years Dale worked as a pen rider all over the panhandle of Texas.  He would “roam” from job to job looking for the “greener pasture”.  In 1994 Dale met Lucy at Hartley feeders where they both worked at the same feedlot.  Lucy worked on the vet crew and Dale worked on the cowboy crew. 

Several years ago Dale’s health steadily began to fail.  While working at Caprock Feeders in 1999 he knew something wasn’t right and went to the doctor.  The doctor asked if his sense of smell had changed and Dale said it had disappeared quickly.  The doctor ordered a CT scan and they found a brain tumor.  Dale’s days as a cowboy soon came to an end.  3 days later the doctors removed the brain tumor successfully.  In 2005 Dale then suffered several bad strokes.  Dale was not expected to live.  Dale said “It’s an awful feeling lying so close and hearing people talk about you dying”.  Thanks to all the love and support of family and friends, Dale made it through.  He steadily got better but never well enough to ‘cowboy’ again.  Dale now resides at the Dalhart Coon Memorial Nursing Home.  Lucy has remained by his side for the last 15 years, through the good and the bad, helping him with every need.   Lucy and Dale have also helped raise one of Dale’s grandsons for several years. 

Dale heard of Open Arms Therapy and decided he’d like to give it a try.  He began riding in June 2009.  I remember his first visit, recalls OAT Director Kristen Hembree, he could hardly climb the stair on the ramp we use to help him on to the horse and we had such trouble getting his leg to bend and swing over the back of the horse.   He was not able to sit up straight in the saddle and he required 2 side-walkers and someone to lead the horse.  Kristen remembers him saying after his ride that “it was not what he envisioned it would be”.  Dale has been riding 2-3 times a week since June.  Today, he is able to climb the stair and mount the horse with much improved ability.  He no longer requires assistance to ride; he rides independently with growing confidence and with pride.   “I can’t imagine riding all my life and then all of a sudden not being able to … I would feel like a part of me had died” says Kristen.   “I am so glad OAT has been able to give that part of his life back.”  Dale enjoys riding and plans to continue riding several times a week.  “I would like to thank the people that are involved for giving me the chance to do it and thank God for what he has done for me” says Dale.  “I’ve had a long life and a happy one.”


To read the story on Dale Rollins visit the following link to the Dalhart Texan website

Recapturing the cowboy way (published 12/14/2009),cntnt01,detail,0&cntnt01articleid=615&cntnt01returnid=16

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