It is said that in any business the most important step, and possibly the hardest, is getting your foot in the door. I consider myself blessed to be “born with my foot in the door.”Being the daughter of Richard Winters, a successful trainer and clinician, has given me many different opportunities throughout the last 19 years that I would otherwise not have had, or even dreamed of experiencing. To have been raised with and around horses, clinics, expos, and other horse trainers has been such a blessing.
Ever since I was a little girl, it never even crossed my mind to be anything but a horse trainer. When I was ten years old, I remember buying my first two-year-old colt for $400 with the big idea of training him and selling him for the “big bucks.” Well, I got him started and sold him at an auction for $1,200. I wasn’t rich, but it was a start. A year later, I enjoyed a little more success. I bought an unbroke quarter pony for $300 and sold it for $12,000!
When I was 11, my dad got bucked off a colt and broke his collarbone. My parents decided to pull me out of school and put me on independent studies for the rest of the year, enabling me to ride the fifteen horses my dad had in training. We were quite a sight that winter as I tried to get around a bunch of broncy colts while my dad sat in his truck, with the heater on, telling me what to do.
When I was seventeen, one of my dad’s clients called and asked to speak with me. They wanted to know if I would be interested in flying to San Francisco to teach a horsemanship clinic. I remember being scared to death! My dad has the special talent of “communication.” At a clinic he is able to take twenty different horses and riders at twenty varied levels, throw them all together, and still make sure that everyone is safe, learning, and being appropriately challenged. There are a lot of great horsemen out there, but there are only a handful of good horsemen who are also great teachers. My dad is definitely one of them. But for me, to go out and conduct a clinic without him was terrifying to me. I would have to think about how I would organize it, what my first words would be, and how I would make everything flow together. I could not become too distracted with any one person and forget about the others. And, what if someone had a problem that I couldn’t handle? The whole process was a little intimidating for a seventeen year old girl. Now, I can report that I made it through my first horsemanship clinic unscathed, and they even wanted to schedule another!
Show ring successes in 2008
Last year was an amazing year for me. I stepped up to compete in Open Division, after having earned two world championships in the Youth Division of the National Reined Cow Horse Association in the past. I was fortunate enough to enjoy success showing in both bridle spectaculars and derbies. But by far the biggest highlight of the year was showing at the World Championship Snaffle Bit Futurity. It was my first year to train and show a three-year-old, and we ended up winning the Reserve Championship in the Limited Open and placing as a Top Ten finalist in the Intermediate Open Division. I was very blessed to be able to ride such a nice horse at such a world class event.
She never stops learning
Even though I have been enjoying some success in the show ring, I realize that I have a lot further to go. With my parents support, I have been “venturing from the nest” over the last couple of years. I started off serving a two-month internship with World Champion Non Pro rider JoAnne Carollo. I went on to work for Sandy Collier. She is the only woman to have ever won the Snaffle Bit Futurity. I enjoyed seven months there and learned a tremendous amount.
In February of 2008, I went back home to help my dad out with his busy clinic season, and to prepare for the 2008 Futurity. I am currently working for Jon Roeser, who is one of the few members of the elite “million-dollar rider” club.
Many people are starting to ask, “Sarah, when are you going to go out on your own?” My response is always, “When I get a lot better!” Although I have enjoyed success in the last few years, I realize that I have so much further to go. I would be very naive to think that I have arrived and know it all. Great horsemen would all agree that you never stop learning. As soon as you think you know it all, the horse has a special way of humbling you!