Michele Flarida, Business Manager
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 Watakoneta, 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 email@example.com.
Vincienzo Santos, Assistant Trainer
Vincienzo Santos, 20, started riding reining horses in 2005, after watching a fellow rider from his boarding facility in Connecticut compete in the event. After his family moved to Ohio, Cienzo, as he’s called, started out taking lessons at the Flarida Farm. He spent one summer break from high school doing odd jobs around the farm, then decided at 18 to participate in the apprentice program. After his year was up, Cienzo decided he wanted to continue, and joined as a full-time staff member and assistant trainer.
Cienzo enjoys riding and training, as well as assisting the non pros who call the Flarida barn home. “It’s a really fun group of people here. We have a great group of non pros, and it’s fun to have a job that I can go to every day and enjoy,” Cienzo says. “Shawn’s taught me everything. He’s the best there is at what he does, and the more I learn the more there is to learn. I learn something new every day from him. I enjoy working there. We work hard but we have a lot of fun, and Shawn’s family has become a second family to me.”
Cienzo also credits his parents for being supportive of his reining career. “My parents are very supportive – my mom and dad are awesome,” he said. “I really enjoy working here and learning from the best!”
Brad Hill, Assistant Trainer
Brad Hill, 18, 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. Two years ago Brad came to visit his friend, Cienzo Santos, who also works at Flarida’s. He spent two weeks hanging around at Flarida’s and 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 him 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 raccon 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.
Keith Ceddia, Assistant Trainer
Keith Ceddia, son of Joe and Susan Ceddia, has been riding horses from a young age. After his older brother, Ryan, took an interest in horses, Keith learned to ride from Olllie Griffith, Plain City, OH. He began riding and competing in horsemanship, pleasure, western riding and trail. At age 12, Keith showed his first reining horse in Jackson, OH.
As a junior in high school, Keith hauled for a NRHA world title in the Youth 14-18 division. He finished as the reserve world champion in the 2004 year end standings. In 2005 Keith took a leadership role and served as the Treasurer of the NRHyA and finished 4th in Youth 14-18 year end standings. Keith attended Ohio State and was a member of the Equestrian Team throughout his college career. He lead his team to two National Championships and two reserve national championships, while winning two Individual Reining National Championships and a reserve national championship along the way.
After graduation from OSU in 2009 with a degree in Ariculture Business and Applied Economics, with a minor in Equine Science, Keith took on a full time position with Griffith which included teaching lessons, coaching non pros and training a few horses. That year he also won the NRHA Rookie Professional World Championship and Limited Open reserve world champion titles. In 2010, the young trainer moved to Texas to work with Jared Leclair and focus on training young horses and aged event horses.
Keith started at Shawn Flarida Reiners in March 2011 and is excited to work in such a great program and especially one that is closer to home and his Ohio roots.