Shawn Flarida said when asked about his earliest ambitions.When I was in seventh grade, I thought winning $100,000 would be a really neat thing,”
As an Equi-Stat Elite $5 Million Reining Rider, it’s clear Flarida’s grade-school wish has come true many times over. And with the $456,671 earned in 2012, he can now add Equi-Stat Open Rider Award winner to his extensive list of achievements.
“It’s been everything and more than I could ever hope for,” Flarida said. “But I couldn’t do it without my owners and I couldn’t do it without my horses. I can’t thank them enough for supporting me and keeping me in the winner’s circle. My horses, all year long, just took care of me.”
One horse Flarida piloted, and his highest-earning mount of 2012 with $140,432, is Spooks Gotta Whiz (Spooks Gotta Gun x Prettywhizprettydoes x Topsail Whiz), owned by Michell Anne Kimball, Encitas, Calif., and bred by Clint Haverty, Krum, Texas.
“He was absolutely fantastic,” Flarida said of the 2007 stallion. “He’s a very good-minded horse, and he’s so pretty.”
The team bested all competitors at the 2012 National Reining Breeders Classic (NRBC) with a 236, earning them the Level 4 Open Championship and a check for $77,532.
“The NRBC run on that horse was so fun, from a showman’s standpoint,” Flarida said. “It worked out well for us.”
He was quick to follow up with another outstanding performance shortly after. A couple months later, they dominated at the National Reining Horse Association (NRHA) Derby for another Open Championship, scoring a 226.5 in the finals and adding $61,400 to their record.
Yankee Gun (Rowdy Yankee x Snow Gun x Colonels Smoking Gun [Gunner]) was Flarida’s second-highest money-earning horse of 2012 with $79,493. The 2009 stallion, owned by Arcese Quarter Horses, Weatherford, Texas, and bred by Equine Plus, St. Basilelegrand, Conn., carried Flarida to win the All American Quarter Horse Congress Futurity Open finals with a 232.5. The Championship came with a check for $25,575.
Flarida also rode Yankee Gun to a 222 score at the NRHA Futurity to place fifth in the Open and collect $50,379.
Third on the list of Flarida’s high-dollar earners is Quistador (Conquistador Whiz x Miss N Becky x Okie Paul Quixote), owned by Gus and Gaynia Revenberg, Old Castle, Ontario, Canada, and bred by Joe Hayes, Gainesville, Texas. The 6-year-old carried Flarida to 11th place at the NRBC with a 226 to earn $26,570. At the NRHA Derby, they marked a 223.5 to take fifth place, which was worth $17,985.
“I’ve been very fortunate,” Flarida said. “My hard work actually paid off. Some of those hours I spent where I didn’t think it was really working, or times where I questioned [if it was] really worth it…the success that I’ve had means it was worth it.”
Flarida said he has been in the saddle since he was 4 years old, and he always knew he wanted a career with horses. With parents Bill and Betty highly active in the horse business, he was certainly given the chance at a young age.
His adamant decision has paid off over the years, and he gives most of the credit not only to his horses and customers, but to his family, as well. He thanks his wife, Michele, for being a major support for him.
“I couldn’t do it without her,” he said. “She keeps me on the road and keeps me going where I’m supposed to and makes sure I have enough time for my family. She definitely organizes stuff for me. It’s awesome. I could never do it without her.”
And like most horse lovers, Flarida admits that he wouldn’t know where he would be without them.
“I’d be a very sad person,” he said. “I enjoy horses so much, I really do. They’re fun to ride, they’re fun to be around and the way they learn fascinates me. I love them.”
He offers a simple piece of advice to those who might be working toward the same level of success he has had.
“Don’t ever quit working for what you want. If you think it, and you want it, you work hard and go get it.”