“Team Green”

Michele Flarida, Business Manager

There aren’t many decisions at Shawn Flarida Reining Horses that don’t get a stamp of approval from Michele Flarida first.

Michele has never been afraid to speak her mind, and she did just that when she asked out a shy cowboy at the couple’s high school in Wapakoneta, Ohio. One year her junior, Shawn agreed to a first date, and the couple has been “going steady” ever since.

While dating Shawn, Michele didn’t let herself get distracted from her studies. A serious student, she graduated from college and went on to get a master’s degree in Immunopathology. She began working on her Ph.D. while teaching at Ohio State University, and was close to finishing when her professor moved to New Jersey.

Michele decided to stay in Ohio, but did complete her doctoral dissertation on the effect of gamma delta t-lymphocytes on the human immune system, using a bovine model. Her findings are still being used in cancer research today. Michele has five patents in conjunction with OSU, and she has been published in six leading scientific journals.

While Michele’s work was mostly geared toward human medical research, she taught both human and veterinary courses at OSU. One of her biggest accomplishments while there was creating cell lines to perfect a method for cryopreservation – a method that is used today for frozen shipped semen that the horse industry now utilizes extensively.

After leaving OSU, Michele worked as a research scientist at Proctor & Gamble for two years before giving it up to become a full-time mom and run Shawn’s business. Michele and Shawn celebrated their 18th wedding anniversary on April 25.

Michele is Shawn’s #1 fan, and an integral part of their business. You can contact Michele at shawnflaridareiners@netzero.net.

Brad Hill, Assistant Trainer

Brad Hill grew up with horses and started riding at a very young age. It started with trail horses and then he roped for fun. But, in 2005, at the age of 12, he started riding reiners and competing at NRHA events. “My Grandpa owned a few reining horses and it sort of became a family affair,” he explained. It didn’t take long for Brad to learn the ropes and in 2007 both he and his sister made the top ten in the youth world standings.

Brad had met Shawn at horse shows and became friendly with him over the years. In the 8th grade, for a job shadowing project at school, Brad spent the day at Flarida’s farm. A few years later Brad came to visit his friend, Cienzo Santos, who also works at Flarida’s at the time. He spent two weeks hanging around at Flarida’s and was impressed Shawn with his talent. By the time he left, Shawn had offered him a job when he was done with school. Brad graduated early from high school and January 2011 found himself employed with the Flarida’s and he is loving every minute of it. “I’m grateful to be able to wake up every morning and do what I love.”

When he isn’t riding, Brad spends a lot of time hunting. Although he really enjoys hunting deer and turkey with his Dad and Grandpa, Brad prefers raccoon hunting with his friends back in Liberty, IN. While in high school he served as FFA chapter vice-president and he has competed in horse judging, small engines, soil judging, leadership competition and welding competition at the district and state levels.



Dale Bicknell has not come into being an assistant trainer in the traditional manner. He worked for more than 33 years at a steel mill before retiring at age 55. That same year, Dale went through the NRHA’s apprentice program. After that, he decided to join the ranks of professional trainers, and went to work for Flarida full time. He has now been at the Flarida barn for more than three years, and is an important part of the family. Dale has been riding reining horses since the early 80s, beginning his career as a non pro, riding under Mike Flarda and then Shawn. He won the Novice Horse Non Pro class at the NRHA Superstakes at one point, and also made the non pro futurity finals on a Whizard Jac gelding. “I’ve had a long relationship with the whole family, and they’re great,” Dale said of the Flarida family. “I’m probably the oldest person to go through the apprentice program. I did it here at Shawn’s, stayed on and have been here ever since. I’ve had horses all my life, so it’s something I really enjoy. And, Shawn and Michele are really great to work for.” Dale has spent a lifetime breaking young horses, but through working for Shawn, he has learned a lot about putting the finishing touches on the horses for the show pen. “He’s really good at putting that finished show tune-up on them, so that’s what I’ve learned from working here,” Dale says. Dale has been married to his wife, Janda, for 39 years, and the couple has one daughter and three granddaughters