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S1E2 Letting your horse win and finding confidence with Sarah Dawson, reined cow horse world record holder

Sarah Dawson is one of the leading riders in reined cow horse and currently sits top ten in the NRCHA. More than that, Sarah has an incredible horse sense and feel under the saddle. During our chat with Sarah, she tell us about her horse that loves peanut butter crackers, how getting started by working with problem horses shaped her views on riding today, how she keeps her cool in the show pen and how you can’t force success, what it was like to hit a world record, and how she applies her same skills to Three Day Eventing.

Key Takeaways:

  • Find ways to help your horse win, to build confidence and help them enjoy their jobs. Sarah uses cows to train many different maneuvers outside of the cow work, to help her horses have fun and feel confident.  
  • You can’t force wins and successes. Prepare yourself and your horse, then go out there and do what you’ve practiced like you are at home.
  • Go spend as much time with horse people you respect as you can. It’s the best way to learn.

Show Notes:

  • [00:45] ] – How growing up with horses, a father who was a clinician and working with problem horse changes perspectives
  • [4:27] – Getting started in reined cowhorse, and why Lyn Anderson thinks Sarah did it right
  • [08:32] – What it’s like to find the feel
  • [10:47] – Lessons from failing in the show pen, and fixing your mistakes before trying again
  • [13:52] – Training horses is a lifestyle. You have to love it, have a good work ethic, and an even better partner
  • [15:40] – A great horse that love peanut butter crackers
  • [18:26] – Shiney Outlaw and what it was like to hit a world record
  • [22:16] – What it means to have a gritty horse
  • [23:13] – Dealing with nerves and mentally preparing for competition
  • [26:43] – Synergies between Three Day Eventing and reined cow horse
  • [28:05] – Sarah’s advice to people looking to improve as a horse person
  • [29:44] – Setting a goal to get on the million dollar riders list
  • [31:48] – What to look for in a special horse
  • [32:33] – Letting your horse win and building confidence
  • [35:03] – Why horses are so great
  • [36:53] – Why the cowhorse industry is so great
  • [38:53] – The best advice given as a horsewomen
  • [40:38] – Where you will see Sarah next


Learn more about Sarah and Dawson Performance Horses on their website and Facebook.

About the Author, Kaitlyn Hurst

About Kaitlyn

Marketer by profession. Horsewoman at heart.

"I grew up riding, breeding and competing on American Quarter Horses in reining and reined cow horse. I believe that all successes are the result of a partnership between the horse, rider and their mentors.

Finding The Feel is a passion project combining both of my worlds"


  1. Sandy Jirkovsky on 05/03/2018 at 3:46 PM

    Love the podcasts! Great interviews and great insights!

  2. Bill Lewis on 07/15/2018 at 6:24 AM

    Sarah Dawson has “found the feel”. Watch her in the show pen. Her artistry is evident on every horse she rides. Sarah and her husband Chris Dawson have built a great horse training program. They have earned the respect and admiration of a rapidly growing group of friends and fans.

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