Mike and Shirley Newman
Directors, Open Arms Therapy
Mike Newman was born and raised on the Bar N Ranch 15 miles northwest of Dalhart,
Texas. Bar N was a working Hereford cattle ranch and they also raised horses and farmed a little on the side.
Mike grew up raising, breaking and training horses.
raised in Lubbock, Texas. Shirley grew up as many young girls do with a love of horses. Unfortunately for Shirley,
her family did not own horses. There was little opportunity for her to own or even ride horses growing up. Not
until she met and married Mike Newman.
In the spring of 1973,
Shirley and her best friend made a trip to Dalhart. It was on this trip during spring break that Shirley met Mike, her
best friend's cousin. Mike followed Shirley back to Lubbock and waited for Shirley to finish High School.
Mike and Shirley married in September 1975 shortly after high school graduation and then moved back to Dalhart. They
have lived in Dalhart ever since. They raised two children, Tim and Crystal, and many horses.
jokes today that she married Mike for his horses. On a more serious note; over the past 33 years of marriage she has learned
everything she could about horses from her husband, Mike. In 1980 they entered into the adoption process with the Bureau
of Land Management and in November that year they were approved to adopt 4 mustangs. Mike, Shirley and their 4.5 year
old son made the journey in a pickup and 4-horse trailer to Rock Springs, Wyoming where they would choose their mustangs.
They traveled through a severe blizzard and ice storm between Denver and Rock Springs. The storm was headed south towards
Dalhart. On the return trip they traveled over snow packed roads and black ice until they reached Colorado Springs where
they finally stopped for the night. They learned later that the roads to Dalhart were treacherous due to the storm and
it was a good thing they had stopped!
The Newman's were required
to keep the mustangs for a minimum of one year during which time they underwent handling and training. At the end of
the year 3 of the 4 horses were sold. They decided to keep a little gray filly they had named Sugar. Sugar was
the meanest, orneriest horse they brought home but she turned out to be the nicest, most calm horse out of the four.
It is Sugar that later foaled 3 of the horses in the OAT program today. Bluebird, Chester and Pumpkin must take after
their mother because they are the nicest, most calm horses and they work perfectly in the OAT program. Sugar passed
away about 4 years ago at the age of 22.
Shirley had heard about
equine therapy several years ago while reading or watching an Amarillo news story. It was then that she decided that
someday she'd like to be involved with a program of this nature. Ironically in the summer of 2008, a few years after
their kids had all grown and started families of their own, Shirley mentioned to Mike that she'd like to participate in
equine therapy and how she felt that it would be good for their horses too. She wanted the horses to have something
to do other than stand in the pen and get fat. It was about this same time that Carl Bailey saw a similar news article
about 7 Star Horse Therapy, an Amarillo equine therapy organization, and Carl began working with Destiny Lucas, a 5 year old
special needs girl, at his home. Carl approached Shirley who was working for the Dalhart Texan at the time about doing
an article. He and his wife Peggy had decided to start an equine therapy group in Dalhart and they wanted to tell everyone
about it. Shirley was shocked and excited when she heard his story; she now had her opportunity - to work with horses
and to take part in equine therapy. She had the opportunity to finally follow her dream.
original story ran in September 2008, Open Arms Therapy has grown and now claims a Board of Directors, approximately 30 participants
and nearly 50 volunteers. In addition to the Newman's 3 horses there are approximately 6 others either donated or
leased to the program. Mike and Shirley trailer their 3 horses to every lesson and to fundraisers as needed. They
both serve to side-walk or lead the horses in both sessions, 2 days a week. Both Mike and Shirley serve on the OAT Board
of Directors. They give much and ask little. OAT is most grateful for their dedication to the program both in
their time and talents and their horses.
the PLAQUE and the family we are so grateful to ...
Mrs. Doris Harden passed away earlier this year she graciously donated $5000.00 to Open Arms Therapy. Mrs. Harden is
the mother of OAT Director, Shirley Newman. OAT used the money to purchase a much-needed Storage building. OAT
Directors along with retired pastors Chalmer & Judy Wiegman of the Nazarene church met with Shirley Newman
and her family on Saturday, October 24th, to dedicate the building. Family members in attendance were Mike and Shirley
Newman, their son Tim Newman, his wife Ashley and their daughters Dakota and McKaylin (both sleeping), their daughter Crystal
Rich and her daughters Abigale and Stephanie and Shirley's uncle, Joe A Wilson, who is Doris Harden's brother.