Chris Dawson began his journey in the Appaloosa industry and discovered cow horses at Appaloosa shows. He started seeing the Snaffle Bit Futurity in magazines and learned about the NRCHA.
“It’s the only thing I’ve had a natural knack for,” Dawson said of his affinity with cow horses.
He attended his first cow horse show at the first World’s Greatest Horseman in 1999 at the Lazy E Arena in Guthrie, OK. After watching the finals, he was hooked.
He was introduced to Todd Crawford who he ended up working for four years. He worked with reiner Jordan Larsen and showed some reiners. Dawson won $200,000 in NRHA earnings and then went to work for Carol Rose. Dawson established Dawson Performance Horses in 2008. He and his wife Sarah are some of the top open riders in the country. They have both amassed over a million dollars in NRCHA earnings, believed to be a first for a husband and wife in the industry.
Dawson has won almost every premier event, some of them multiple times. In 2017, he placed fourth at World’s Greatest Horseman.
When Dawson is not training, he is spending time with Sarah and their daughter Hadley.
What’s your most memorable moment in the sport?
“My wife winning the  Snaffle Bit Futurity. As far as my accolades probably when we pulled it off in Paso Robles in 2013. To be able to pull off all four Derbies that year was pretty cool. The million dollar status is bigger than one win. It’s more of a lifetime achievement.”
What is your training philosophy?
“Keep it simple. I have three concrete pillars I try to base my training program around, steering, stopping and rating. If they will steer, stop and rate it will pretty much fix any issue I run into. Any time anything goes wrong, it’s because one of those three things gives out…”
What have you learned or adjusted in your program in the past year?
“In the last year I have spent a lot more time on my herd work and cutting horses. I spend more time making sure I can handle them through the herd. So I can get my cows cut with as much control as I can.”
What are your goals?
“I would like to stay up there on the top 10 top 20 riders list for the next 10 years. That would be fantastic. And really just keep doing what we’ve been doing. I would like to make more bridle horses and use the snaffle bitters to do that. That’s what I set out to do originally, but that would be my long term goal.”