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
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.
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.”