Shawn Flarida, an icon in the National Reining Horse Association, recently passed a major career milestone. The charismatic trainer, who hails from Springfield, Ohio, became only the second NRHA member in history to pass more than $7,000,000 in lifetime earnings.
“Reaching this milestone, it means everything to me. It is an honor to be here,” Flarida shared. “When I was coming up, we never knew we would be running at this much money. It’s a great time to be a reining horse trainer.”
Known as much for his personable demeanor as his signature green show shirts, he took the time to acknowledge those who have helped him reach this latest milestone. “I thank my wife, Michelle. She’s been with me through thick and thin and was there when I hadn’t won anything. She helped me get to the top. I also thank my mom and dad and my kids,” he said. “The main parts, of course, are the horses and the owners. I don’t know which one comes first – probably the great owners who believed in me. Without them and their horses, none of this would be possible.”
Flarida’s father, Bill, was quite the horseman and passed a love of horses to his sons. Shawn’s older brother, Mike, was the first to see major event success in the show pen. Mike won two NRHA Open Futurity Championships; the first in 1993 on Custom Crome and the second with Whizard Jac in 1996. Mike was inducted into NRHA’s Hall of Fame in 2010.
Although he showed as a non pro throughout his school years, Shawn traded in his non pro card in the late 1980s and began his storied career.
He won his first All American Quarter Horse Congress Reining Futurity in 1994, and then, in 2002, won his first NRHA Futurity Championship on future Hall of Famer and $12 Million Dollar Sire Wimpys Little Step. Also in 2002, Flarida competed at the World Equestrian Games in Jerez, Spain, and won both Team and Individual Gold Medals on San Jo Freckles.
Flarida continued to rack up major event wins and then, with Hall of Fame mare and Million Dollar Dam Wimpys Little Chic, made history. Wimpys Little Chic, by Wimpys Little Step, became the first horse to follow up an NRHA Futurity Championship (2007) with an NRBC Championship and the NRHA Derby Championship (both in 2008).
Flarida became an NRHA Million Dollar Rider in 2003 and at the time was only the third person to reach that goal, just behind fellow Hall of Famers Tim McQuay and Bill Horn. Three years later, he became the second NRHA Two Million Dollar Rider (behind McQuay).
In 2008, Flarida became the Association’s first Three Million Dollar Rider, and in 2010, the first to reach Four Million. Five Million came around in 2013, and Six Million in 2017.
For 14 years, Flarida was NRHA’s all-time leading rider. While fellow Seven Million Dollar Rider Andrea Fappani took that position in 2020, Flarida still boasts a lead of more than $2 million in earnings over the next rider on the all-time earning list.
When he was inducted into NRHA’s Hall of Fame in 2011, Flarida said, “I’m honored. But I think it means more to me because of the people who are already in there. They are the reason that I am able to do what I love to do and earn a living doing it.”
Flarida’s Top 10 Highest Paying Wins:
- 2004 NRHA Futurity Level 4 Open Championship – Smart Spook – $175,000
- 2002 NRHA Futurity Level 4 Open Championship – Wimpys Little Step – $150,000
- 2013 NRHA Futurity Level 4 Open Reserve Championship – Tinseltown Fly Guy – $135,596
- 2014 NRHA Futurity Level 4 Open Championship – Shine N Spook – $132,635
- 2009 NRHA Futurity Level 4 Open Championship – Gunnatrashya – $125,000
- 2007 NRHA Futurity Level 4 Open Championship – Wimpys Little Chic – $125,000
- 2005 NRHA Futurity Level 4 Open Championship – KR Lil Conquistador – $125,000
- 2019 NRHA Futurity Level 4 Open Reserve Championship – Shine Colt Shine – $105,215
- 2016 NRHA Futurity Level 4 Open Reserve Championship – Whiz Gata Prize – $104,362
- 2021 The Run For A Million Invitational Reserve Championship – Spooks Gotta Spark – $90,000
Six Futurity Championships – 2002/Wimpys Little Step, 2004/Smart Spook, 2005/KR Lil Conquistador, 2007/Wimpys Little Chic, 2009/Gunnatrashya, 2014/Shine N Spook
Three Futurity Reserve Championships – 2013/Tinseltown Fly Guy, 2016/Whiz Gata Prize, 2019/Shine Colt Shine
Six Derby Championships – 2005/Smart Spook, 2007/Walla Walla Whiz, 2008/Wimpys Little Chic, 2009/RC Fancy Step, 2010/Gunnatrashya, 2012/Spooks Gotta Whiz
Four Derby Reserve Championships – 2000/Tivitos Sugar Bar, 2006/KR Lil Conquistador, 2011/Whizkey N Diamonds, 2011/Shine Chic Shine
Four NRBC Championships – 2006/Einsteins Revolution, 2008/Wimpys Little Chic, 2011/Shine Chic Shine, 2012/Spooks Gotta Whiz
Ten Congress Futurity Championships – 1994/Dun Its Easter Bunny, 2001/Sheza Great Bingo, 2002/Wimpys Little Step, 2005/KR Lil Conquistador, 2006/Senor Tejano Whiz, 2007/RC Fancy Step, 2008/Whizs Chic A Dee, 2009/Gunnatrashya, 2010/SDP Justice Is Comin, 2012/Yankee Gun
Note: Five of the top 10 all-time leading reining horses have been shown by Shawn Flarida.
3 – Wimpys Little Chic ($516,555)
5 – KR Lil Conquistador ($422,957)
6 – Smart Spook ($403,149)
7 – RC Fancy Step ($364,454)
9 – Einsteins Revolution ($352,720)