Shawn Flarida rewrote the record books when he became the first person to reach $6 million rider status in reining. The trainer, from Springfield, Ohio, reached the milestone at the 2017 National Reining Horse Association (NRHA) Futurity.
Flarida earned $73,554 when he tied for third in the Level 4 Open with George and Carol Bell’s Mr Masota Star (Wimpys Little Step x Cee Another Masota x Custom Crome) and $22,288 for his ninth-place finish on Missin My Tinsel (Hollywoodstinseltown x Coronas Missin Star x Missin James), owned by Garry Ray Smith.
“It means a lot,” Flarida said. “I’ve grown up in the sport – my family’s always been involved in the sport – so to be one of the elite riders, or to be considered one of the elite riders, is a huge honor.”
He thanked his breeders, sponsors, owners and family, saying it wouldn’t have been possible without their support.
“My wife’s been through the whole thing with me, and then my dad, and my brother shoes for me. To get to win that much money, I was probably the smallest part of the equation,” Flarida said. “It takes a village.”
Although Flarida’s list of accomplishments in the sport is long, he cited the 2002 season as his breakout year. It started with winning the Team and Individual Gold medals aboard San Jo Freckles at the Fédération Equestre Internationale World Equestrian Games in Jerez, Spain. He topped off the year with his NRHA Futurity Level 4 Open Championship on Wimpys Little Step, the future Equi-Stat Elite $9 Million Sire and father of one of Flarida’s 2017 Futurity mounts, Mr Masota Star.
“Everything just kind of happened in a row after that,” Flarida said. “But leading up to that point, I’d been kind of knocking on the door and just being close – just never could seem to get over that hurdle.”
Even though he’s proud to be an NRHA Six Million Dollar Rider, Flarida said he is happiest spending time with the horses.
“I physically enjoy the everyday training of them and being involved in their lives,” he said. “I don’t know what I would do if I didn’t have that in my life, because it’s so much fun to watch the young horses grow from 2-year-olds to 3-year-olds to 4-year-olds, and to see where they go in their careers.
“That just makes me happy.”