Putting a solid foundation on young horses and understanding the psychology of the horse are skills Sarah Dawson acquired at a young age through the guidance of her father, renowned professional horseman Richard Winters. After graduating from high school at 16, Sarah made the Limited & Intermediate Open Finals at the NRCHA Snaffle Bit Futurity at 18 and was offered a job by Jon Roser. With two Reined Cow Horse World Championships as a youth rider under her belt & a passion and skill for Three Day Eventing and colt starting, she departed home, taking with her all of the support and knowledge both her parents, Richard & Cheryl Winters, imparted on her. You could definitely say they put a strong foundation on Sarah which opened the doors to opportunities with other professionals such as Doug Williamson, Carol Rose, Bill Smith, & Sandy Collier. Under the guidance of masters such as those and the experience with the quality horses in their programs, Sarah advanced her skills & a respected reputation as a first-rate colt starter was born. Traversing the United States on colt starting contracts, Sarah grew her reputation and sharpened her showmanship skills, never wavering in her dedication to truly understanding the mind & movement of the horse as she had been brought up to do. While focusing on developing her professional career as a horsewoman, a cowboy named Chris Dawson was climbing the ranks of the Reined Cow Horse scene & their paths crossed on the show circuit, one day both realizing they were a true fit.
2020 was a huge year for Dawson, she and her husband Chris Dawson welcomed their first child, Hadley in April and Dawson won her first Open Snaffle Bit Futurity in October aboard Selvarey. She is the second woman to win the Snaffle Bit Futurity.
Dawson said winning the prestigious title is an awesome feeling. “There are a ton of people that are more than qualified to win that title but a lot of things have to fall into place and a lot of stars have to align. I am just so grateful that I am one of those people,” she said.
As far as goals go Dawson said “Getting on top is easy, it’s staying on top — that’s hard. My goal is to keep going out there and do the best I can and hopefully find more good horses to go do it again.”
Despite the obvious difficulties of 2020 and cancellation of shows, Dawson said the COVID-19 shutdown worked out for her. She had a break after having her baby and so did everyone else. She said it’s easier to stay home from a show when everyone else is home too!
Dawson said her and Chris’s training goals are to give the horse a good foundation so it can go on to do anything.
“We have a lot of horses come in and out of here and not all of them are going to be great show horses. We really try to find a job that they can go and excel at, not just send them home because they aren’t going to do this [sport]…We try not to be a cookie cutter [training operation] but be flexible and try to find the right job for every horse.”
What are your preferences when picking cows?
“I try to pick the right cow for the right horse… I wouldn’t say I am looking for one particular thing in a cow, I am just looking for the right cow for the situation.”
What is the most important quality you must have in a horse?
“Trainability and try. I would rather work with a tiny bit less talent and little more try than the other way around.”
What drives you and inspires you?
“I am a horse-crazy girl! I love horses and I’m competitive. I like to have a goal that I’m working towards so getting these horses trained where we can hopefully go win on them is a pretty good goal. It all goes back to ‘I love horses’ and if there were no horse shows I’d probably still have a horse in my backyard.”