I got Sarah’s name and contact information for one of my co-workers who strongly recommended her to me when I expressed interest in trying riding again after a 13-year break. From the start, Sarah put me at ease and has helped me be the best rider I can be. Her lessons are filled with positivity! Instead of telling you the 20-million things that you are doing wrong – she tells you the few things that you can change in your body to improve you position and communication with your horse.
After about a year of riding weekly with Sarah, I asked her to find a horse for me. And she pretty much found me a unicorn who is a perfect match for my current ability and can take me where I want to go. She matched our personalities well and found me someone fun but very steady and patient. I could not have found a horse on my own. The process was amazing – it was fun – and I learned a lot. Sarah is always willing to answer questions.
Sarah has built her business from the ground up and she is always making it better – she is the embodiment of a dressage rider – a thoughtful, careful, perfectionist always looking for ways to make improvements.
Whenever I read an article that lists the qualities of a good instructor – Sarah ticks every checkbox. She believes that any horse and rider can do dressage. She works tirelessly to help you and your horse improve with every session. She is adaptable – if an explanation of an exercise is confusing, she describes it a different way, if a horse doesn’t understand what is being asked, she helps the rider evaluate how they are asking and looks for other ways if need be. Sarah’s goal is for every horse and rider to reach their full potential at their own pace and to always be building on a solid foundation. Sarah works hard to improve herself as a rider as well, taking clinics when she can with horses in training. We can always learn at least one thing from someone else and I have learned an immeasurable amount in working with Sarah. Every day, I am grateful that I have a trainer that I trust implicitly and look up to as a role model.
Sarah Denham of Denali Sporthorses has become an integral part of our daughter, Ella’s, training. She’s been there for us every step of this journey, since we first reached out to her for help with a green horse we were hoping to have as our daughter’s eventer. After being in training with her for two months it became clear that horse was not for our ten year old! Sarah held our hands through the selling and buying process and made what could have been a very painful and sad process a delightful learning experience. She provided support and guidance to a reluctant ten year and somehow managed to get her excited about the prospect of having a new mount!
After helping us sell the horse we had in training with her, Sarah walked us through purchasing our next horse. She talked with us about what to (and not to) look for, certain terms that were red flags for the type of horse we were looking for, and provided us a list of all the questions to ask. Through Sarah’s experience and guidance we were able to purchase a horse that truly was the perfect teammate for our daughter.
The training and instruction Ella has been giving by Sarah is unmatched. She’s so positive with her instruction and is able to keep our daughter focused while having fun. It has been amazing to watch our daughter grow as a rider in such a short amount of time. Sarah is not just our daughter’s instructor, she is also her mentor in all things equestrian!
What makes Denali Sporthorses and Sarah Denham so different is the relationship she establishes with both horses and humans alike. A relationship based on trust, encouragement, and devotion. We watched her patience with a green horse; saw just how much it meant to her to find our daughter the perfect horse to help her grow and reach her goals; and she showed us that above all else the safety of the horse and rider was her top priority. Sarah’s professionalism and dedication to helping our daughter become a better rider and horseman is priceless.
Sarah has been a godsend to my 15 year old daughter and our 8 year old, green, Thoroughbred. We came to Sarah out of desperation. For a year we thought our horse was not sound. Some vets said there was a physical problem but others were telling us they couldn’t find anything. My daughter had lost most of her passion for riding as a fight seemed to ensue every time she rode. We dropped him off with Sarah and left with heavy hearts. We had pursued every avenue we could for a year and nothing worked so we were very skeptical anything would work at this point.
After just 3.5 weeks, Sarah had turned everything around. We watched in amazement at what she had done in such a short period of time-she had performed a miracle! Through kind, positive, patient and disciplined training she had taken a challenging, yet talented, horse and given him the foundation he was lacking. She had him moving like we had never dreamed he could. He was: balanced; supple with the bit; bending with his body; and had smooth transitions off my daughter’s leg and seat. We were speechless and left him with her for more training-this time we left elated with high hopes! After time, we discovered there were no physical issues. It was just a lack of training for both my daughter and her horse and communication between the two of them.
Sarah is a professional and conducts herself as such. She has great communication with both the horse and rider. She is able to communicate wonderfully with them as a team and as individuals. My daughter loves her technique and responds very well to her. Sarah is also very personal and has been a great role model. She made us feel very comfortable with our “lack of knowledge”. We are so very grateful to her for restoring our hope but especially for giving my daughter back her passion for riding.
I have gained so much confidence as a rider and have completely fallen in love with dressage since I’ve been riding with Sarah. She’s the best – supportive, encouraging and consistent, and lessons are always challenging and fun.
Sarah is an exemplary horsewoman, exhibiting patience with difficult horses and the talent to bring more mature horses through their training. I entrusted her with my own young horse on several occasions and have always found that she handled even the most challenging moments with ease! She possesses a profound understanding of the development of both horse and rider, and is able to develop sound horse and rider relationships because of it.
In this industry, it is not often that you can find someone with an honest love of the horse and the sport, but Sarah has it.
I first met Sarah when we were co-workers at Virginia Tech’s Sporthorse breeding farm. Sarah’s abilities with horses were instantly apparent in how her gentle nature and confident yet quiet authority commanded respect without inducing any fear. What is equally impressive about Sarah is her ability with people, she can colorfully convey a concept without the student feeling overwhelmed or inferior.
When she informed me that she offered dressage instruction, I lept at the opportunity. I am an avid hunter rider and have always felt that basic dressage would improve my communication with my horses, yet I could never find a dressage instructor that did not look down on my chosen discipline. My Hanoverian mare was not yet of age to endure a full dressage lesson and Sarah was more than happy to introduce me to basic dressage concepts while I was aboard my older grade gelding. Her vivid, positive way of communicating and constant encouragement coupled with tactful criticism allowed me to learn and retain so many ideas that I use to this day!
I am so grateful to Sarah and am so disappointed that she lives so far from me. I have taken several clinics with well known dressage trainers since moving to Florida in hopes of building on the basics that Sarah explained. I have been disappointed every time – none have had the ability to make me feel comfortable, maximize my learning and not make my discipline and my horses feel inferior. Sarah’s motto of “Every rider on any horse can do dressage” is one that sticks with me to this day. She is an absolute gem as a trainer and I envy her students that get to ride with her on a regular basis!