Welcome to the World and Music of Dan Roark

Welcome to the world and music of Dan Roark. I have lived here for a while now and it's not a bad place to live, really. Although on some level, it's probably just as well you're only visiting. But hang around as long as you like.

Here you can listen to my songs - and buy them if you wish - read my thoughts in posts on my blog, see my pictures, and find out when and where I am playing. 

You can also hear live versions of my songs on Reverbnation, as well as see videos of live performances. You can also see my videos on, and subscribe to, my YouTube channel


Volunteer Highlight – Rider/Volunteers 

l-r: Juliana, Tucker, Drew, Ava, Claire at the New Hope Gala.

By Dan Roark

It takes all different types of volunteers to help a nonprofit such as New Hope operate on a day to day basis in addition to those on staff. The different types will present themselves in the course of the volunteer highlights over the next few months.

But the group of volunteers I would like to call attention to now are the most endearing type of volunteer. Which are those volunteers who began as riders at New Hope and have now begun to volunteer – assisting the other riders who are not as far along in their journey in this little universe we call New Hope.

Juliana, Tucker, Drew, Ava and Claire are not only fellow riders/volunteers, but they are also very good friends. When they are not at New Hope or at school, they are likely to be found on phone chat, talking about school, horses, New Hope, and all the things teenage girls talk about. When at New Hope, however, it is all about horses – albeit with smiles on their faces. After assisting with the younger riders’ lesson, they have their own lesson as riders. Tucker moved out of the area, but she still keeps in touch and comes to New Hope as often as she can.

These rider/volunteers are to be commended for volunteering in addition to school work, family obligations, and extra curricular activities. Not only do they help with the horses and around New Hope, they also brighten up the arena with their smiles. And we return the favor with the smile they bring to our faces.

Ride on and ride for hope.

The post Volunteer Highlight – Rider/Volunteers first appeared on New Hope Therapeutic Riding.

Horse Highlight – Beau 

Beau waiting to be tacked up for a ride.

By Dan Roark

Beau is a 1998 model palomino appendix gelding. Upon retiring from his former career as a jumper, Beau transitioned to a soft retirement as a lesson horse at New Hope in 2016. Beau is a gentle soul, who is easily led and is comfortable with either English and Western saddles.

Beau’s best friend is Tommy, who was highlighted before the Thanksgiving break. Accept at mealtime, when Beau wants to eat in peace. Partially due to the wear and tear on his teeth, putting him in the special needs category as far as the New Hope herd is concerned. He gets extra alfalfa watered down and spread throughout the day to make up for the fact that it’s takes little more work to eat when you’re lacking in the teeth department. He is fed four times a day instead of the usual two to address his needs. He is doing well though, as he can eat an entire horse treat without any of it hitting the ground.

Beau likes to help every rider, from the beginner to the highly skilled. He is content to be led and will occasionally take a nap in the middle of a lesson if not kept moving. Beau works well with taller, balanced riders who still require a leader or side walker. He has a competitive nature which will come out when asked the right way. Riders enjoy his big, bouncy trot when learning to post, or just rising and falling with the movement of the horses legs. Which makes Beau the favorite horse for a number of riders.

Ride on and ride for hope.



The post Horse Highlight – Beau first appeared on New Hope Therapeutic Riding.

Chisholm Challenge – The Events 

Chisholm Challenge 2023

By Dan Roark

The New Hope family hopes everyone had a heartfelt and sumptuous Thanksgiving dinner with family. With Thanksgiving week behind us, things are picking back up – including the blog.

I took a pause while writing this and went to the store. I automatically started to turn toward New Hope. Even our vehicles are ready to get back in the swing of things.

Lessons start back tonight. Members of the drill team for Chisholm Challenge came out on Saturday to get a jump on things – more to come.

On to Chisholm Challenge:  As I mentioned before the Thanksgiving break, Monday, January 8,  at Chisholm is the American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA) and National Snaffle Bit Association (NSBA) sanctioned show.  The events include: Reining, Western Pleasure, Walk, Trot and Canter Hunt Seat and Western Equitation and Walk, Jog and Lope Trail Class and Showmanship.

On Tuesday and Wednesday, the 9th and 10th, approximately 200 equestrians with disabilities representing each therapeutic horseback riding center will compete in Chisholm Challenge events. All Star Equestrian, Amy’s Wish for Wings, Born 2 Be, Equest, ManeGait, New Hope, Stable Strides, Stars and Strides,  Texas Therapeutic Riding Center, Victory, and Wings of Hope had participating riders this past Chisholm Challenge.

Chisholm Challenge events will include English Equitation, Western Equitation, Ranch Riding, Showmanship at Halter, Barrels, Pole Bending, Driving, and Working Trail. The drill team demonstration from several centers and their exhibitors will perform a special exhibition at 1 p.m. on Tuesday.

Next week – the individual events in more detail.

Ride on and ride for hope.

The post Chisholm Challenge – The Events first appeared on New Hope Therapeutic Riding.

Tanya – A New Hope Thanksgiving Story 

Tanya arrives at New Hope

By Dan Roark

I had the good pleasure last Saturday morning of taking pictures to document Tanya actually getting on and riding a horse. Something she could only dream of for the last eighteen years. Which is, considering the timing, a wonderful Thanksgiving story and I am fortunate enough to share it with you.

I met Tanya in the summer when she began coming to New Hope. I wanted to do a post about her. She was in her all-terrain vehicle – “the tank” – which moved her up so she could groom the horses. This was before the heat wave. I had planned to meet with her the next week to do an interview, so I didn’t take a picture. Then, due to Tanya’s setbacks and the weather, that second meeting didn’t happen until Saturday. But I wanted to illustrate the timeline of her relationship with New Hope.                                                                                                                                                                             

Tanya is a medically retired disabled Air Force veteran. She worked in aircraft maintenance on fighters and C130s. As she says, “it was a blast!” She expected to do that until she retired. That all changed on October 31, 2005. Having dinner with family, she became paralyzed on the left half of her body. They went to the emergency room at a civilian hospital that – fortunately – had a neurologist on call that night. After a not so quick MRI, the doctor told her he was 98% sure she had multiple sclerosis (MS).

Tanya couldn’t believe it. She was straight from deployment, the most fit she had been since boot camp. How could she be sick? The Air Force agreed, saying it was impossible – she didn’t fit the “mold” of someone with MS. After three spinal taps and too many MRIs to count, even the military had to admit it was MS.

“This led to the hardest moment, being removed from a job I absolutely loved. And did quite well in, too. I recovered quite quickly from the paralysis in the hopes of staying in [the Air Force]. But that was not in my cards. Eventually, I was given a medical discharge. I was basically told, “we’re sorry, but we can’t use you any more now that we’ve broken you.”“                                         

Then came August 2010. That afternoon, after running three miles and walking in heels all day at her civilian job, she ended up in the ER. The last thing she remembers is handing her phone to the wife of the plant General Manager, and asking her to call Tanya’s mom. Tanya woke up days later, paralyzed from the nose down.

Tanya had been on breathing machines, heart machines, and just about every machine in the ER that keeps the body alive when it stops taking on that job itself. Over the next few months, with her mom by her side, she went through intensive in-patient physical therapy to try to regain some of the movement in her upper and lower body. During this time, the VA told Tanya she should spend less time trying to get out of the wheelchair and more time getting used to it.

“Needless to say, that didn’t go over well with me or my mom. This was a very dark period of my life and I wanted to quit many times. I would cry to my mom when I couldn’t do something. She would reply “I know baby, but do it anyway.” After re-learning how to eat, drink, talk, write, and basically everything else again, my journey brought me to the doors of New Hope. I have gained so much from my time spent with the horses and the staff at New Hope. When I first rode up to the pasture, I had no idea what to expect.”

“There I was in my all-terrain vehicle – affectionately called “the tank,” wondering what I could possibly do with these wonderful horses and what could they do for me. I had discussed equine therapy with my Wounded Warrior Project representative, but I didn’t know anything about it. But up came Sharla with the most beautiful horse I had ever seen, Cyclops. A one eyed horse that stood heads above me, and won my heart in seconds.”                                                                                                                                     

“You see, as a disabled person, I am constantly being reminded that I’m disabled. From the way people look at me in the wheelchair, to how hard it is to do basic things, that most people take for granted. But Cyclops, he had no idea what disabled meant. He let me drive my wheelchair right up to him and began licking me and the wheelchair. Two licks on the joystick and I learned to turn the wheelchair off real quick when he was around. Cyclops didn’t care that he only has one eye, that I was in this weird contraption that took me from sitting to standing while strapped in it. All he wanted was my attention and time.”

Tanya and Sharla

“That first 45 minute session was the most amazing hour plus I had ever had. Between Sharla’s compassion and teaching ability, and Cyclops’ patience and calm acceptance, I didn’t even think about the fact that I was standing in my wheelchair for that long. In fact, it was the first time I could remember since my diagnosis, that I hadn’t thought about that diagnosis. I left that day feeling calmer, and accepted, and in general a better head space than I remembered being in. Every time I go to New Hope, I leave in a better space, whether I’m grooming Cyclops, bathing Daisy Mae, or giving treats to Beau, the acceptance and calming effect these amazing animals have on me is a true blessing. My anxiety becomes non-existent, and my mind quiet. I find myself smiling more and more on my visits too. Sharla has been by my side through this journey and will remain so as I next try to walk with my all-terrain walker in these upcoming weeks that will hopefully lead to me riding soon.”

Tanya told us this story live on screen at the New Hope Gala on October 12. She has worked incredibly hard, so much so that she came up to New Hope numerous times last week to do necessary exercises to prepare for Saturday. You can see her huge smile as she arrives at New Hope with her walker. Everyone of us had smiles pinned on our faces as we shared Tanya’s joy at achieving her dream and goal of riding a horse! And the timing of it being near Thanksgiving was lost on no one.

Happy Thanksgiving to your family from the New Hope family!

Ride on and ride for hope.

The post Tanya – A New Hope Thanksgiving Story first appeared on New Hope Therapeutic Riding.

Horse Highlight – Tommy 

By Dan Roark

I like to call Tommy the gentle giant. Tommy is a blonde, Belgian draft horse, vintage 2003, who came to New Hope via a kill pen. It’s sad that some people can’t see that a horse can do other things, even if it can no longer do what it did previously, which we suspect – in Tommy’s case – was being a plow horse.

Being on the back of Tommy – weighing in at 2000 pounds – is like being on top of the world. And I say that from experience. Which can be intimidating to a new rider. But for his enormous size, Tommy is surprisingly in tune to his riders’ needs. In time the rider that began by being intimidated comes to love riding Tommy. He teaches riders to focus and steer confidently by smashing cones or poles if not kept focused and directed.

To further illustrate Tommy’s sensitivity to his riders, he has been known to alert staff to an impending medical issue being experienced by a rider. Not many people can say they work with a 2000 pound animal with feet the size of dinner plates. His hoof prints resemble that of a prehistoric animal.

Tommy is a pleasure to ride. He doesn’t care what kind of saddle a rider uses or if the rider even uses a saddle at all. All those riders who ride Tommy thank him after the ride and present him with his favorite treat – frozen bananas with the skin still on.

Ride on and ride for hope.

The post Horse Highlight – Tommy first appeared on New Hope Therapeutic Riding.

Congratulations to New Hope Instructor, Susan Altshuler 

Susan Altshuler on Bandit in the middle of a jump.

By Dan Roark

Cyndy and I drove out to Texas Rose Horse Park in Tyler on Sunday to see Susan Altshuler, New Hope Instructor, in the second day of the jumping competition. Susan takes riding lessons at StoryBook Sport Horses. She was one of several riders representing StoryBook.

Watching jumping competitions gives you an excellent example of the relationship between rider and horse. Practice sessions are not always about riding, but also about the rider getting to know her horse. It may be a cliche, or an oft-used phrase, but in a jumping competition, the horse and rider do actually act as one. It’s a beautiful sight! You can see the concentration on the faces of both.

Not only did we get to see our friend compete in the jumping competition, but we were able to witness an adorable friendly rivalry between Susan and Jodi Steely. Susan received two firsts in the competition and they tied for champion.

“Jodi would beat me by 1/2 second, then I would beat her by 1/2 second”, Susan was saying, “we usually finish within a second of each other and we push each other to do better. I love that we shared champion and that we have such a friendly, supportive rivalry.”

While the sun never really broke through the clouds, watching Susan, Jodi and many other competitors ride, and being around horses, always makes for a very enjoyable day.

Congratulations Susan, from everyone at New Hope!!!

Ride on and ride for hope.



The post Congratulations to New Hope Instructor, Susan Altshuler first appeared on New Hope Therapeutic Riding.

Chisholm Challenge – The Story 

Luci riding trail

By Dan Roark

The 2024 Chisholm Challenge, January 8-10, will be the 20th Anniversary of Chisholm Challenge. Since the beginning, the Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo has donated the John Justin Arena and other amenities in support of Chisholm Challenge (CC). The support of CC by the Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo was largely due to W. R. “Bob” Watt, Jr. Bob Watt was president and general manager of the Southwestern Exposition and Livestock Show – more commonly known as the Fort Worth Stock Show & Rodeo – for thirty three years. Watt passed away in November of 2022. He played a pivotal role in starting Chisholm Challenge at the Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo in 2004.

The three day event begins on Monday – January 8 in 2024 – with The American Quarter Horse Association and National Snaffle Bit Association Equestrians with Disabilities Competition at John Justin Arena. All trail competition events are in the Will Roger’s Memorial Coliseum Arena.

Tuesday begins the Chisholm Challenge Equestrians with Disabilities Competition in the John Justin Arena, with the Working Trail Course events still in Will Roger’s Memorial Coliseum Arena. Wednesday wraps up the remaining events in JJ Arena and any remaining trail competitors in Will Roger’s MCA.

More on Chisholm Challenge next Monday.

Ride on and ride for hope.

The post Chisholm Challenge – The Story first appeared on New Hope Therapeutic Riding.

Chisholm Challenge and the New Hope News Blog 

By Dan Roark

After a week of rain and a week of illness and out of town trips, things have settled back into regularity this week in the little universe we call New Hope. For the riders who are going to be competing at Chisholm Challenge in January, lessons are being geared toward conditioning, horse and rider communication, and the particular event(s) in which he or she will be competing.

With that said, the plan for the New Hope News Blog is to post about Chisholm Challenge – history, events, etc. – on Mondays. Then highlight a New Hope horse on Wednesday. Followed by a New Hope volunteer highlight on Friday. All horses and volunteers are loved and appreciated. We would like to let you know more about them.

And occasionally, I will publish a post of pictures of the different expressions of riders – and/or volunteers/staff. Riding, volunteering, instructing, and taking care of the horses at New Hope is a journey. While we naturally post pictures with smiles and joy, those pictures represent the successes of the journey. I think it’s important to illustrate the struggles that led to those successes.

Ride on and ride for hope.

The post Chisholm Challenge and the New Hope News Blog first appeared on New Hope Therapeutic Riding.

New Hope Gala Part Two – Volunteer of the Year 

By Dan Roark    I hope everyone had a great weekend! [Note: If you saw, or when you see, my last post about the Gala, you will note that software and internet technology are very cruel when you try to get artsy with pictures!]

When Cyndy and I went to our assigned table at the Gala, we realized we were sitting at the main table with Dave and Sharla Kershen, Rick Bradford, the mayor of Argyle, Danny Kershen and his wife, Audrey, and Emcee for the evening, Scott Murray and his wife, Carole. Cyndy was surprised and I pretended I was. I had been keeping the secret for two and a half weeks.

Before the band returned to the stage to close the evening out with music for dancing, Dave Kershen took

to the mic and announced that they had decided to start choosing a volunteer of the year. Then he announced that my lovely wife, Cyndy, was the first Volunteer of the Year! Dave was nice enough to acknowledge my volunteering – Cyndy and I often volunteer together – albeit in different capacities at times. Tucker was coming up to give Cyndy a hug. Tucker was a New Hope rider who moved out of the area, so Cyndy and I go pick her up and bring her to New Hope to see friends – horses and people – as often as we can. Tucker’s mother, Sarah, is on the left in the picture to the right, with Darren and Cyndy. Sharla Kershen joined the group at the podium for the picture above.

Cyndy has been volunteering at New Hope for two years. I have wholeheartedly supported her. She has gone above and beyond to help anyone that needs help at New Hope. It was upon her suggestion that we began going to pick up Tucker. For two people who hadn’t ridden a horse in years, we now spend a considerable amount of time around horses. It was because of Cyndy that I became involved after she had already been volunteering for the better part of a year.

And so I would like everyone to join me, the staff and volunteers of New Hope, and the riders – who love Cyndy – in congratulating Cyndy on being chosen as Volunteer of the Year!!!! She certainly deserves it. (And after keeping the secret for two and a half weeks, I’m excited to be able to tell somebody!)

Ride on and ride for hope.


The post New Hope Gala Part Two – Volunteer of the Year first appeared on New Hope Therapeutic Riding.

New Hope Gala 

By Dan Roark

From the silent auction which began as everyone began to gather and continued throughout the evening, to the sounds of Steve Story and Texas Swing as some couples danced and the crowd dispersed, the New Hope Gala was a marvelous evening of entertainment, friendship (old and new), delectable food, and charity. Oh, and horses – Cy (Cyclops), Olivia, and Rain, the pony.



Scott Murray
Danny Kershen

After everyone found their table and sat down, Emcee Scott Murray welcomed everyone, gave opening remarks, and reminded those assembled of the reason for the evening.

Danny Kershen gave the blessing before the meal began.



Mike Trent
Heads and Tails


During the dinner, Auctioneer Mike Trent kept things lively – as auctioneers are wont to do – with Heads and Tails before the band, and the live auction and Give Hope Paddle Raise afterwards.



Danny and Audrey Kershen


Steve Story and Texas Swing were the perfect musical complement to the evening, as Danny and Audrey Kershen illustrate at evening’s end.

Stay tuned for the special presentation that came before the band closed the evening out. It deserves a post of its own.

New Hope staff and volunteers would like to thank everyone for coming and showing their support by giving their time and money. Thank you!!!

Ride on and ride for hope.

The post New Hope Gala first appeared on New Hope Therapeutic Riding.

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