"Do what you believe and believe in what you do."
Katrina Sanders is a trainer, coach and clinician on California’s Central Coast. After growing up in San Luis Obispo County and attending Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, she has trained horses in Colorado, then to Nevada and today, Katrina has come back to train out of Golden Hills Farm in Paso Robles.
Katrina began riding lessons at age 8, riding Huntseat. Her parents would lease ponies and horses for her to ride and it was during this time she learned the western style of riding through friends. Katrina could be found at her friends’ ranches helping gather cattle on her Thoroughbreds and often in an English saddle.
“It was fun! I really enjoyed that time. I fell in love, and it was a lifestyle that really appealed to me”
In her early twenties, as Katrina was developing her career towards becoming a professional on the hunter jumper circuit, she grew disheartened with the showing industry and felt horses were in an assembly line progression.
“I felt a lot of people had lost their passion for the horse itself. I felt the horses were being exploited for ribbons or a paycheck. I had a hard time with that”
When she left that part of the show world, she bought a cow horse saddle with the intention to relax and rethink where she wanted to go with her horsemanship.
Katrina currently competes in Western Dressage, Cowboy Dressage, Working Equitation, and Ranch Versatility through individual organizations, the American Quarter Horse Association and the Californio Bridle Horse Association.
“I try to be as versatile as possible in my adventures. Anything that I feel is a venue that will honor how I school my horses in a classical way using my vaquero equipment and the traditions that I have chosen to follow, that’s the direction that I’m going with my horses”
In addition to her diverse background Katrina also stands out in the show ring with the tack she rides in and the style of training she follows. Katrina coaches her students, both human and equine alike, with traditional California Vaquero techniques.
When Katrina enters the show ring, her goal is to do the best she can and for the horse to perform the best it can on that day. Sanders speaks about the pressure for the exhibitors to perform perfectly,
“We are not robots. Our horses are not robots. Horses don't care what you spent on the entry that day. Letting go of perfection has allowed me to be closer to it”.
Katrina’s goal as she grows with the industry is to be recognized as a horseman rather than a trainer. “Horses have their own strengths and weaknesses that they bring to the table and a horseman recognizes that”, explained Sanders.
“What I do is different and I want to make sure that I stand out in a good way” ~Katrina Sanders
From those who know Katrina:
“Her passion sets her apart. The horse comes first. It is not about winning, it is about having a well-balanced, happy horse. Katrina isn't about the buckle, she continually wants to progress with the horses. Katrina also believes the horses need to experience everything; they need to have as much fun and love in their life as she does”~ Kathy Gomer, owner of 805 Horse Tales.
“She is an accomplished equestrian and it shows in her presentation and performance” ~Nonny Largent, a Cowboy Dressage World judge, exhibitor and clinician.