Before he chose horse training as a profession, Chris Dawson thought he would become a veterinarian. As a youth rider in the Appaloosa breed industry, Dawson’s stepfather trained cow horses, launching his interest in the sport. After attending his first World’s Greatest Horseman, in 1999, he new he found a home in cow horse.
The third-generation, Perrin, Texas, horseman drifted toward the cow horse world and set his sights on making a living in the industry. He received his first NRCHA cow horse check in 2001. Over the years of training, Dawson’s goal was to earn $100,000 a year, which would make for a good living. In 2013, Dawson hit his stride, collecting four out of five NRCHA premier event championship titles.
He credits the industry’s welcoming and helpful individuals as well as great horses with the achievement. In the fall of 2018, he surpassed the seven-figure milestone at the Southwest Reined Cow Horse Association Pre-Futurity. In 2019, Dawson was acknowledged the NRCHA’s sixteenth Million Dollar Rider at the young age of 36.
“One of the more notable horses that got me started was Little Miss Shiney Chex,” he recalled. “It has been cool to also go on and have success with her babies. MH Boon In My Blood was the first horse I made the World’s Greatest Horseman finals on and that horse carried me through some terrible times when I didn’t feel like I could draw a check. Obviously, Travelin Jonez has been a huge part of my career.”
Along with mentors Todd Crawford, Carole Rose, Don Murphy and Harold Ferrin, Dawson credits his fellow cow horse trainers with making the sport welcoming and a friendly environment.
“I’ve felt welcomed with open arms in this industry. There are so many that have helped me along the way and I want to pay it forward as much as I can,” said Dawson. “My peer group, guys not always acknowledged like CJ Shopbell, Lance Shields, Clay Volmer and guys my age pushing each other. It takes everybody in this industry. Ron Ralls has been like a dad to me. There are so many great people in this industry.”
Now, Dawson is focused on continuing to make his living and his family with wife, fellow NRCHA professional Sarah Dawson.