This past month, the warm Florida sunshine served as icing on the cake during the Florida Reining Classic for Fernando Salgado, National Reining Horse Association’s latest Million Dollar Rider. Salgado laid down fantastic runs aboard Vinny Gun, owned by Guillermo De Anda Martinez, and Bob Reiner, owned by Kristen and Rodion Cantacuzene; both pushed Fernando Salgado over the million dollar total in NRHA lifetime earnings.
“I started joking around with my friends and people that work at the barn; last year, I was Level 3 and 4, and I said this year I am going to win a million,” said Salgado. “At the beginning, I was even kind of joking about it, but every horse show went to worked well, and towards the middle of the year, I was like, I can do it. I kept going, and it really happened that fast from then on, so that was something that made me really proud.”
Salgado is a Brazilian native who grew up at the forefront of the performance horse world, with his close family members also being professional trainers. He began training horses professionally in Sao Paulo, Brazil, where he became a well-known reiner. He worked with his uncle Jango Salgado, who previously worked under NRHA Hall of Famer Doug Milholland, and his late brother, NRHA Professional Eduardo Salgado. He rode in Eduardo’s memory at the 2022 NRHA South Central Affiliate Regional Championship & Tulsa Reining Classic aboard FS Inferno (Inferno Sixty Six x FS Smart Doc Chic). The ride added more than $125,000 to Salgado’s earnings and FS Inferno’s earnings for owner Gilberto Leal.
With the experience and expertise gained while competing in Brazil, he decided to make his way to the United States to broaden his education and opportunity in the training profession. In 2010, Salgado moved to work with NRHA Professional Thiago Boechat as an assistant trainer. After working at the Xtra Quarter Horses facility, Salgado pushed his horizons further by working for NRHA Seven Million Dollar Rider Andrea Fappani.
Salgado is sure to thank those who helped him along the way to this success.
“The list is very big, but for sure, my family,” he said. “I think that the way I was raised with my uncle Jango as a horse trainer and my older brother Eduardo as a horse trainer as well, I got to live that lifestyle from the beginning. My whole team that allowed me to go to many shows and especially my wife, Sabrina, who keeps up with my craziness. I would not be able to do it without her. A big thank you to all my customers who believed in me and continue supporting me. We have big goals we are going after, for sure.”
Salgado mentioned in his recent social media post to share the coveted news, “There are not enough words to express my gratitude to all the owners of the horses that got me here. I came to this country with a dream, and because of all of you, I get to live it every day. Here’s to One Million and many more to come!” He also shared a list of the many great horses and owners who took part in this success, such as his first horse, Sting Melodys, owned by Jefferson Abbud, and his most recent horse, Swoon, owned by Coma Ranch.
Now located at his own facility in Gainesville, Texas, alongside his wife Sabrina, Salgado’s career has taken ablaze with championships, top professional recognition, event qualifications such as Teton Ridge’s The American Performance Horseman, and so much more.
2023 Teton Ridge The American Performance Horseman: Team Championship and 3rd place in reining
2022 NRHA South Central Affiliate Regional Championship & Tulsa Reining Classic – The Invitational Level 4 Open Champion
2022 National Reining Breeders Classic (NRBC) Level 3 Open Champion
2022 Oklahoma Ride & Slide Derby and Novice Horse Derby Level 4 Open Champion
2022 6666 NRHA Derby Level 3 Open 3rd
Ranked 3rd in 2022 Top 20 NRHA Professionals
Major event finalist, including the All American Quarter Horse Congress Reining Futurity, NRHA Futurity, NRHA Derby, NRBC, and The Run For A Million – Million Dollar Competition