Shawn Flarida knew from a very young age that he wanted to train horses. Upon graduating from high school in 1988, he went to work for his brother, Mike Flarida, who already was running a successful business as a reining trainer.
Flarida has won five NRHA Open Futurity championships, as well as eleven All-American Quarter Horse Congress Futurity titles. He is the all-time NRHA leading money earner, and the only NRHA Five Million Dollar Rider.
Throughout the 1990s, Flarida won many championships, including the NRHA Derby Limited Open Reserve Championship in 1991 and 1993. He won his first big paycheck when he was fifth in the NRHA Open Futurity on Peponitas Mr, and he won the All-American Quarter Horse Congress on Dunnits Easter Bunny in 1994, for the first of eight times.
In 2002, Flarida represented the U.S. at the FEI World Equestrian Games in Jerez, Spain, on San Jo Freckles. He returned home a Team and Individual Gold medalist.
During 2004, Flarida again found success in Europe. He collected the World Reining Trophy Reserve Champion title, the Reining Challenge Open Championship in Kreuth, Germany, and the Americana Reserve title in Augsburg, Germany.
In 2006, Flarida began a streak of collecting both Champion and Reserve honors at the same show. At the Ariat Tulsa Reining Classic, he won with Walla Walla Whiz and was second riding Western Whiz. That same year, he also won his first NRBC Championship on Einsteins Revolution.
2008 was a huge year for Flarida. He was the first person to win first and second at the National Reining Breeders Classic. Aboard Wimpys Little Chic, Flarida won the NRHA Futurity, the NRBC, and the NRHA Derby – the first time this had ever been done. It was also in 2008 that Flarida became the first-ever NRHA Three Million Dollar Rider.
2009 played out to be another great year for Flarida, as he was second in the USEF National Championship on KR Lil Conquistador. The pair also won the CRI2* at the Kentucky Cup Reining event in July. On Smart Spook, Flarida won the CRI2* at the Ariat Tulsa Reining Classic.
Flarida claimed victory in the 2010 Adequan/USEF Open Reining Championships riding RC Fancy Step with a total score of 446.5. He was also seventh at the same competition on Wimpys Little Chic. Riding RC Fancy Step, Flarida completed the 2010 season by winning the Team Gold medal at the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games in Lexington, Ky.
Flarida had outstanding 2011 and 2012 seasons. He started 2011 with a fifth-place finish at the National Reining Breeders Classic with KR Lil Conquistador, and nine days later the pair won the Kentucky Reining Cup CRI5*. Flarida returned to the Ariat Kentucky Reining Cup on Wimps Chocolate Chip in 2012, piloting the horse to Flarida’s second straight victory at the event. He continued his winning ways at the Ariat Tulsa Reining Classic. With Shiners Chic, he won the USEF Open Qualifier and the 2012 Adequan/USEF National Open Reining Championship.
2013 was another winning year for Flarida. Kicking things off at the Kentucky Reining Cup, he and Wimps Quixote Cody took top honors in the CRI3*. The pair’s score of 226.5 helped Team Ariat Boots win the Team CRI3* Open FEI Reining competition. Flarida returned to Kentucky in July and claimed another CRI3* victory with RC Fancy Step. The pair then took the All-American Quarter Horse Congress by storm, collecting another CRI3* win.
Flarida began 2014 in a big way at the Kentucky Reining Cup. With Spooks Gotta Whiz, he claimed his third consecutive win at the Kentucky Reining Cup, earning top honors in the CRI3*, which served as the first round of the Adequan/USEF Open Reining National Championship and Selection Trial. To top off the weekend, Flarida maintained his excellent form in the second round and won the National Championship and Selection Trial, claiming the Adequan/USEF Open Reining National Championship title and earning himself a spot on the 2014 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games U.S. Reining Squad.
Flarida and his wife, Michelle, have three children, Cody, Courtney, and Sam. The family runs a successful training business in Springfield, Ohio.