Assistant Trainer Spotlight: Sarah Keith of Evans Performance Horses
Assistant trainer Sarah Keith of Elizabeth, Colorado, started working for Chad Evans in 2016. Some of her responsibilities include setting the trail for the day, saddling horses, doctoring, organizing the trailers for shows, clipping, giving lessons, and riding. Keith currently shows in the hunter under saddle, trail, western pleasure, and western riding.
Keith grew up in Mansfield, Ohio, where her mother homeschooled her. After high school, Sarah took an internship with Brian Holmes and Amy Bayle, fitting yearling thoroughbreds in Purcell, Oklahoma. This opportunity opened doors for her within the performance industry.
“Since I was born, my family has owned horses, and my mom always said I was that horse-crazy kid, so a career with horses did not come as a surprise,” Keith told us. She started showing horses in 4-H as a kid, but her first quarter horse show was the All American Quarter Horse Congress in 2013. “No pressure!” she says and laughs.
GHS: Hi Sarah. Can you tell us what you like about horses and showing?
SARAH: I love horses for the simple fact that there is no room for ego. They are animals – not machines. Add showing to the mix, and with that comes a new set of challenges keeping people focused on improvement. It is gratifying to watch the green and junior horses progress into well-seasoned show horses and owners and riders achieving their goals.
GHS: What is one of your most proud accomplishments in the show arena?
SARAH: One of my favorite accomplishments in the show pen was at the 2019 AQHA World Show. I showed three horses. All three placed in their respective classes, including Sugaray placing third in the Level 2 Junior Trail and Handsome I Will Be placing fourth in the Level 2 Senior Hunter Under Saddle.
GHS: Who are some of the most talented horses you have worked with?
SARAH: I have been very fortunate to work with a lot of really talented horses. I am also very thankful that the owners trust me to do so. Some of the horses include Whose Your Bay Bae, Alternative Facts, Just Becuz Im Lazy, Eye Doubt It, This Iz How We Roll, Real Hot Real Good, Florida Georgia Line, Sugaray, UF A Certain Star, and Extremely Salty.
GHS: Who have been your biggest mentors?
SARAH: I am going to start by thanking my mother. Without her guidance, support, and discipline, I would not be the person I am today. Second, I would like to thank Brian Holmes for believing in me and realizing that I could make a mark in this industry. The one person that has done the most for me is Chad Evans. My parents taught me the meaning of hard work. Chad has brought that to a whole new level.
GHS: What are some of your favorite memories at horse shows?
SARAH: Some of my favorite memories are the time spent with friends and watching the clients achieve goals that they have set, big or small. To get to work in an industry that is solely hobby-based, you and those around you must be having fun and enjoying the process to become an experienced exhibitor.
GHS: How did you come about working for Chad?
SARAH: Chad hired me to help at the 2015 AQHA World Show. That was my first time attending any world show, and it was an experience. It was a lot of hard work, and I loved it. At the end of the show, he offered me a year-long internship, which led to a permanent position. I appreciate the time that Chad has put into me to be the best rider and trainer I can be and providing me with the opportunities to do so. He will give you the freedom to decide on a horse’s training but is always there if you get stuck or need advice. It is truly a team effort.
GHS: Is there anything you would like to see changed in the industry?
SARAH: I think AQHA has done a great job of being proactive and inclusive with the changes they made to the AQHA World Show. Mainly, I am looking forward to seeing new classes being offered, such as the novice classes, select classes, and additional leveling in the western pleasure classes.
GHS: What are some of your goals?
SARAH – My short-term goal is to place at Congress. My long-term goal is to have my own successful training business and be as respected in this industry as the people I look up to.