The Horses

Tinseltown Fly Guy “Ruben”

Shawn had been looking for a top tier futurity prospect when he discovered Tinseltown Fly Guy in Ruben Vandorp’s barn. Although Shawn tried to have a client buy the horse, Ruben eventually just shipped the horse to Shawn and told him to show him. With just a few weeks preparation, Flarida qualified Tinseltown Fly Guy for the 2013 NRHA Open Futurity finals. On Friday, before the Saturday evening finals, Fritz Leeman struck a deal with Vandorp to purchase the talented stallion and ensure that he would stay in Ohio with Flarida. Although Fritz is relatively new to the sport of reining, he has been involved with the world of quarter horses for decades.

Just one day later, Fritz Leeman was the owner of the 2013 NRHA Open Futurity reserve champion when Tinseltown Fly Guy and Flarida marked a 224 as draw 3. Fritz will be standing “Ruben” to a limited book of mares due to his 2014 show schedule.

Sired by Hollywoodstinseltown out of Fly Flashy Jac, Tinseltown Fly Guy attracted Shawn’s attention for a number of reasons. “I have always been a fan of Hollywoodstinseltown and have looked for a son of his for a number of years. I also liked this horse because I won the NRBC for the first time aboard another horse out of his mother Fly Flashy Jac by the name of Einsteins Revolution,” Shawn said. “I’m really looking forward to showing this horse in 2014!”

Spooks Gotta Whiz “Baby Spooks”

Spooks Gotta Whiz, owned by Michell Anne Kimball, arrived in Shawn’s barn in February of 2012 and he was already a NRHA Futurity Champion. Shawn was excited about the opportunity to show this horse and couldn’t wait to get him to the NRBC. It was worth the wait, as this duo was a match made in heaven. On finals night, Shawn asked and Baby answered! They put up a score of 236 and although others tried, no one could match it. “This is a special horse,” Shawn said. “He gave me everything he had and trusted me every stride.” It seemed a match made in heaven, but could they do it again?

“Michell asked me if I wanted to show him at the NRHA Derby and I told  her I had to think about it,” he said. “I didn’t want to make an emotional decision based on the NRBC. I wanted to make the right decision for the horse.” Eventually, Shawn and Michell decided to take him to Oklahoma City for the Derby. Once again, Spooks Gotta Whiz proved he was all heart wrapped in a flashy bay package. With the 2012 Derby win, Baby became the first stallion to ever win the NRHA Futurity, the NRBC and the NRHA Derby. And Shawn became the first rider to ever do it twice!

With $316,022.21 in NRHA earnings, Michell decided to retire Spooks Gotta Whiz from his aged event career although not completely from the show pen. In January 2014, the handsome bay stallion returned to Shawn’s training barn to prepare for the 2014 World Equestrian Games USA Team qualifier in April.

Shine Chic Shine, “Shine”

The handsome palomino stallion, sired by the incredible Smart Chic Olena out of Ebony Shines, has been a standout since his arrival at Shawn’s Springfield, OH training facility. He arrived in September 2010, which is fairly late to join Shawn’s training program, but the talented stallion fit right in.

In their first outing together at the Carolina Fall Classic, Flarida rode Shine Chic Shine, owned by Amabile & Strusiner, to a big score of 151.5 to win the Open Futurity. Just a few weeks later the duo won the first go round of the NRHA Open futurity and placed second in the second go. They headed to the finals with the highest composite score, but suffered some bobbles in the finals that kept them from the top spot.

“I always knew he was a good horse, but I was disappointed that we didn’t finish better at the futurity. I was determined to show everyone how good he really was and my first opportunity was the 2011 NRBC.” As the last draw of the Open NRBC finals, Shine Chic Shine tied for the lead with a 229.5. With just a short recovery period, Shine Chic Shine returned to the arena a posted a 231 to win the $75,000 first prize pay check. “The heart and courage this horse demonstrated tonight was incredible. I always knew it was there and I’m glad we got to show it everyone else tonight.”

Shine finished off his 2011 show season with a three way tie for the NRHA Derby Open reserve championship. Shine finished off his show career with finalist berths at the 2012 NRBC and NRHA Derby and is now focused on a breeding program.

Quistador, “Eyore”

Quistador has been one of Shawn’s favorites since Gus and Gaynia Revenberg purchased him in the 2009 Futurity Prospect sale and sent the colt to Shawn. “He’s been great to train and has really been a show horse for me this year.” The dun stallion by Conquistador Whiz out of Miss N Becky, was a winner in his very first outing at the 2010 NCRHA futurity in St. Paul, MN. One month later Shawn called on the young stallion again at the Tulsa Classic John Deere Futurity. The current leader that day was a pair of 228.5’s and Flarida was pretty confident in Quistador’s abilities. Shawn called on him and Quistador answered with an incredible 230!

This duo won the first go round of the Congress Open futurity and then went on to place third in the finals. At the NRHA futurity Eyore placed third, earning over $89,000 that night, which pushed Shawn over the $4 Million Dollar Rider mark.

Quistador posted several wins in 2011 including the Clayton Woosley Hall of Fame Derby Championship with a score of 230 and the Congress $3000 Open class championship. He started his 2012 show season off with a bang by winning the Wimpys Little Step and Gordyville Breeders Derby events. Quistador continued to be a steady competitor and made the 2012 NRBC and NRHA Derby finals before heading to the Congress to tie for the Open class championship with a score of 230. In 2013 he was the Gordyville Breeders Classic and Wimpys Little Step reserve champion with a 227 and followed that up by tying to win the first go round of the NRBC and once again making the finals. Currently, he boasts earning of $225,258.83.

Just before the NRBC, Quistador was purchased by Francisco Ayres Lopes Junior, San Paulo, Brazil.

Whizkey N Diamonds, “Foster”

Owned by Rhodes River Ranch, Whizkey N Diamonds has a pedigree that is second to none. The handsome buckskin stallion is a son of the incredible Topsail Whiz and out of the great producing mare Princess In Diamonds.

Shown exclusively by Shawn as a three year old, Foster won the 2009 OVRHA Open futurity before heading west to the High Roller Reining Classic futurity, Las Vegas, NV. Foster was the winner in Vegas before returning to Ohio to claim the Congress Open reserve championship. They capped the year off by placing third at the 2009 NRHA Futurity in Novemer. The gorgeous stallion has earnings of $118,865.13.

After a year of R & R, Foster returned to the Flarida Training facility in 2011. His first outing was the Bluegrass Reining Stakes, featuring the Wimpys Little Step and Gordyville Breeders Cup derbies. Foster let the world know he was back and meant business by posting a big score of 227.5 to win both derbies. Foster placed fourth at the 2011 NRBC and finished in a three-way tie for the NRHA Derby Level 4 Open reserve championship. The handsome buckskin stallion finished the show season by capturing the $100,000 Open Shootout reserve championship at the 2011 NRHA Futurity & Championship show. Foster was very busy in the breeding shed in 2012 but took enough time to get qualified for AQHA World show in just one show. Shawn and Whizkey N Diamonds then went on to win the AQHA Senior Reining World Championship in November. He currently has earnings of $216,335.64.

Wimpys Little Chic, “Lexi”

By Wimpys Little Step out of Collena Chic Olena by Smart Chic Olena
Owned by Arcese Quarter Horses USA

Wimpys Little ChicWhen Shawn Flarida calls a horse “the best he’s ever ridden,” it is not a statement that is taken lightly. After all, the five-time NRHA Futurity Champion has been on the backs of many of the most talented and successful horses in reining history.

Yet, it is no secret that Wimpys Little Chic, otherwise known as “Lexi,” holds a special place in the trainer’s heart. The flashy 6-year-old palomino mare has a resume that speaks for itself, as she is the only horse to ever follow up an NRHA Open Futurity Championship with an NRBC Open Championship, but it is her endearing personality that has earned her fans around the globe.

“She’s just so sweet,” Shawn says of the mare. “She does anything I ask her to do and tries her best every single time. She’s the kind of horse you wake up thinking about riding every single day.”

Wimpys Little Chic was bred and raised by Double Run Farm owner Monica Watson, who named the filly after the “Dynasty” character Alexis Carrington.

“She always had this ‘look at me’ attitude that reminded me of Alexis Carrington, so that’s how she got her name,” Watson explained.

For Watson, who also bred and raised Lexi’s sire, Wimpys Little Step, who became the first horse to carry Flarida to an NRHA Open Futurity Championship, there was no question about where Lexi would be trained. She went to Shawn as a 2-year-old, and when Watson sold her to Arcese Quarter Horses, it was with the stipulation that she stay in training with Flarida.

In the fall of 2007, Flarida took Lexi to the Ariat Tulsa Reining Classic, where the flashy mare dominated the competition, winning the event. She went to the Congress Futurity, but a stumble kept her out of the winner’s circle. However, it didn’t take long for Lexi to prove her talent. The world stood up and took notice after the mare won the first go-round at the 2007 NRHA Futurity, and she remained consistent by scoring a 226.5 in the second go. But the night of the finals, Flarida and Lexi drew up last – and obviously, the pair knew they’d saved the best for last. With graceful maneuvers and powerful stops, Lexi and Shawn stole the hearts of the crowd and judges as she maneuvered through Pattern 10. As Shawn rode out of the arena, his family was already streaming toward him when announcer Keith Bradly announced “theeeee score” – a 231.5.

Lexi continued her winning ways at the National Reining Breeders Classic the following April. After an uncharacteristic break-of-gait in the preliminary round, Lexi came back to the finals to prove she is the real deal. The result was a 233. After riding out of the ring, Flarida, with his trademark grin, called her the best horse he’d ever ridden.

But it was at the NRHA Derby that Lexi made history. She scored a 233 in the finals to take an early, commanding lead. And despite a field of extremely talented horses, it was once again Shawn and Lexi at the top of the leaderboard when the scores were tallied and the dust settled. She is now a reining “Triple Crown” champion, and will forever live in the history books as the first reining horse to ever win all three major events.

The 2009 show season saw Lexi continuing her winning ways. She was the NRBC reserve champion and won the Open mare incentive for the second consecutive year. Just two months later she and Shawn headed to Oklahoma City for the NRHA Derby where they earned a third place pay check and Lexi earned the distinction of becoming the first horse in NRHA history to exceed lifetime earnings of $400,000.

Never one to rest on her laurels, Lexi was back at the NRBC in 2010 and was once again named co-reserve champion and picked up her third Open Mare Incentive championship. This show put her with in striking distance of the half million dollar mark in NRHA earnings.

Shawn was excited about showing Lexi at the NRHA Derby and felt she had enough to win it all again. Although they fell a little short of championship, Lexi finished the event in a tie for fourth place with her barn mate, RC Fancy Step. Taking home a check in excess of $15,000 put Lexi over the $500,000 earnings mark and once again she rewrote NRHA history. She continues to be the NRHA all-time leading money earning horse.

Shawn and Lexi made there final appearance at the 2010 $100,000 Open Shootout at the NRHA Futurity. Together they marked a 225 and earned over $12,000 for that run. “I had hoped to win it on her so that she could retire with a win, but that wasn’t in the cards,” Shawn said after the show. “She was great though and I couldn’t have asked her to be any better after all of the runs we have had together.”

Gunnatrashya, “Spanky”

By Gunner out of Natrasha by Trashadeous
Owned by Arcese Quarter Horses USA

Shawn Flarida and Gunnatrashya at 2009 FuturityGunnatrashya – Shawn teamed up with the talented stallion Gunnatrashya to win his fifth NRHA Open Futurity title, as well as his eighth All-American Quarter Horse Congress Futurity championship in 2009.

Gunnatrashya came to Shawn via NRHA Hall of Famer Bill Horn, who, along with his wife, Kim, spotted the horse as a green 2-year-old at the Dorminy Plantation in Fitzgerald, Georgia. Bill thought the horse would be a perfect fit for Flarida, and the stallion was off to Ohio. Later that summer, Bill went to see Shawn and even threw a leg over Gunnatrashya, whom he immediately said reminded him a lot of “Trash,” the legendary Trashadeous. Bill even handed Shawn a seat belt after his winning run at the Congress.

“He turns as hard and as fast as you can stay on him,” Flarida said with a smile. “He rolls back so quick, you gotta pay attention. For such a small horse, he’s very athletic. But his big thing is the stop. You just have to get straight and say the word. I never had the chance to ride ‘Trash’ myself, but Bill says there are so many things this horse does that Trash did, it’s amazing.”

Gunnatrashya, who is also owned by Arcese Quarter Horses, also made history as the first Gunner offspring to win the NRHA Open Futurity. Gunner’s owner and NRHA Two Million Dollar Rider Tim McQuay called Gunnatrashya “very electric and fun to watch.” Fans and judges agree! Gunnatrashya and Shawn scored a 228.5 to win the 2009 NRHA Futurity.

Shawn and Spanky returned to the show pen at the 2010 NRBC and put together a phenomenal ride, but failed to make the finals. “He really just tried too hard,” Shawn said. “This horse just doesn’t want to be in trouble and the penalties we had were a result of his desire to excel.” This dynamic duo moved on to the NRHA Derby and were ready to finish what they started in Katy, TX.

When he walked to the middle of the pen aboard Gunnatrashya on Saturday night in OKC, Shawn knew that Craig Schmersal was currently the leader with a huge score of 234 aboard the 2010 NRBC champion Boom Shernic. “I didn’t know if I could beat him, but I dang sure knew I could get close,” Shawn said after his run. They let it all hang out and Keith Bradley had us all fooled when he didn’t use his trademark “Theeeee score” prior to announcing the score of 235. There was more than one spectator that was confused! Gunnatrashya put together a flawless run and earned the 2010 NRHA Derby championship.

After Spanky topped the NRHA Futurity and NRHA Derby, Mr. Arcese made the decision to retire Gunnatrashya to the breeding shed. With his dominant performance at the 2010 Derby, it didn’t seem like he had anything left to prove. Although Shawn will miss showing him, Gunnatrashya will provide him with another generation of winners.

KR Lil Conquistador – “KR”

By Conquistador Whiz out of Smart Little Prize by Smart And Trouble
Owned by Cheree Kirkbride

Shawn Flarida and KR Lil Conquistador at 2005 FuturityOften described as having the personality of an “ornery little kid,” KR Lil Conquistador is a 8-year-old gelding that has more than earned a special stall in the Flarida barn. “If there was one horse that was like my best friend, it would be KR,” Shawn says about the gelding. “We have so much fun together, he’s like my buddy.”

Bred, raised and still owned by longtime Flarida family friends Jeff and Cheree Kirkbride, KR was supposed to be a top non pro horse for Cheree. He went to Shawn’s as a 2-year-old, and it didn’t take long for the trainer to recognize KR’s sizeable talent. At just his third horse show, much to the thrill of his owners, KR captured the 2005 Congress Open Futurity title. Less than two months later, KR and Flarida captured his third NRHA Open Futurity title.

In 2006, KR won reserve at the NRHA Open Derby, and followed that up with a remarkable run at the Wimpys Little Step Derby in 2007, marking a 235 – then a record score for the reining industry. He tied for fifth that same year at the NRHA Derby.

KR kept up his winning ways in 2008, starting by placing second at the prestigious Bill Horn Single Shot Derby in Ocala, Florida. A few months later, the horse placed fourth with Flarida at the Wimpys Little Step Derby. But it was Flarida’s assistant, Robin Schoeller, who rode the horse to his current position as all-time leading money-earning horse.

With too many fantastic derby horses to choose from, Flarida made the decision that the easy-going KR would be shown by Schoeller at the 2008 NRBC. “When Shawn told me I was going to show KR at the NRBC, I thought he was kidding,” Schoeller said after the event. “It took me a while to figure out he was serious! I told him, well, if you get him ready for me, I’ll show him.

“It’s kind of a funny story,” he continued. “When I started working for Shawn four years ago, he left for the NRBC, and he left me home. KR was a 3-year-old then, and so I had to ride him. Shawn came home on Monday and pulled him out of the stall and got on him. He came out of that arena and yelled at me. He said, ‘that’s the last time you ride that horse! You don’t get along with him!’ So I would have never thought that horse would win the intermediate with me at the NRBC!”

Robin and KR tied to win the Intermediate Open title with Corey Hendrickson and The Skeetist, owned by Vaughn Zimmerman. He also placed ninth in the Open Classic, beating out Einsteins Revolution title of All-Time Leading Money Earner.

“KR is one of the great ones,” Flarida says fondly. “He’s just dependable and there for me every time. It’ll be bittersweet to ride him at the Derby, but I have no doubt that he’ll continue his career for years to come.”

KR has stayed busy with Cheree and Jeff Kirkbride showing him in an occasional Non Pro class. Shawn saddled him again in 2010 and was the reserve champion at the 2010 Bluegrass Reining Classic’s 7 & Up class. “You can always count on KR,” Shawn said with a grin. “I just love this horse.” At the 2010 NRHA Derby Shawn showed KR in one AQHA class marking a 150 to win it and pick up seven AQHA points.

In September 2010, Jeff Kirkbride rode KR to win The Tradition 7 & Up Non Pro and Intermediate Non Pro divisions which boosted KR Lil Conquistador’s earnings to $401,027.16 and now makes him the second highest money earning horse in NRHA history.

RC Fancy Step – “RC”

By Wimpys Little Step and out of Sonita Wilson by Doc Wilson
Owned by Buffalo Ranch

Shawn Flarida and RC Fancy Step at Wimpys Little Step Derby 2008

While his reining accomplishments may have been overshadowed by his incredibly talented half-sister, make no mistake – RC Fancy Step is no slacker.

Another flashy palomino stallion, “RC” certainly has his own share of enviable accomplishments to his credit, all with Flarida at the reins.

He started off the 2007 futurity season strong, finishing as the Reserve Champion at the Ariat Tulsa Reining Classic Futurity, and followed that with the Open Futurity Champion title at the 2007 Ohio Valley Reining Horse Association Futurity. But it was at the All-America Quarter Horse Congress Futurity that RC really proved his mettle – he won the event, Flarida’s sixth futurity title there – scoring a 231.5.

Going into the 2007 NRHA Open Futurity, RC, then owned by Mark Schols and Jimmy Pierce, was a strong title contender. He scored a 224.5 in the first round, and won the second go with a 230, giving him the highest composite score going into the Futurity finals. While hopes were high for the horse, it was not to be. Still, he scored a 219 in the finals, then went back to the Flarida farm in Ohio for a break.

RC Fancy Step hit the 2008 season in style, scoring a 231 to take the Open Derby title at the Wimpys Little Step Derby in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. He followed that up five weeks later at the NRBC, where he scored another 231.5, again finishing second to Wimpys Little Chic. It was at that show that RC found a new owner in S. David Plummer of the Buffalo Ranch.

“You talk about a horse that’s changed – he’s changed a bunch,” Flarida said of RC after his reserve championship at the NRBC. “He’s just improved and matured, and really gotten a lot simpler. Some of the things you had to remind him of when he was a young stud, you don’t have to do anymore. He’s gotten confident in his job.”

RC had an incredible 2009 show season. He won the Wimpys Little Step derby for the second consecutive year and then went on to place third at the NRBC. But his biggest moment came on Saturday night at the NRHA Derby when he was crowned the champion with a score of 231. After his win, RC went back to the breeding barn where he has been very busy for his owners, Buffalo Ranch.

2010 found this  athlete back at the pay window again. For the third consecutive year, RC won the Wimpys Little Step derby and he also topped the Gordyville Breeders Cup. At the 2010 NRBC, RC placed fifth before heading to the NRHA Derby where he placed tied fourth with Wimpys Little Chic. Just a week after the NRHA Derby, RC returned to Oklahoma City to win both go rounds of the Team USA qualifier with a score of 223.5 in the first go and a 223 in the second go. Their composite score of 446.5 lead the standings and earned them a spot on the USA’s World Equestrian Team.

The 2010 World Equestrian Games (WEG) were historic because it was the first time the event was ever held on US soil. Held at the gorgeous Kentucky Horse Park, the WEG saw Team USA earn the Team gold medal. Shawn and RC lead the way with a 227. All eyes were on Shawn and the gorgeous palomino stallion on Sunday for the individual competition. As the high score in the team competition, they were seeded last in the draw in the individual event. With a flawless run going, Shawn’s left stirrup leather broke, which caused him to touch the horn and rack up huge penalties. Although everyone was disappointed, RC proved that he was one of the greatest reining horses in the world.