The first Federation Equestrian International World Reining Championship took place during the FEI world equestrian games at Jerez de la Frontera in Spain in 2002 where Shawn Flarida became the first individual gold medalist in reining. Shawn is currently the only National Reining Horse Association 5 million dollar rider (Life Time Earnings) and his career is very much on the upward spiral.
Reining is designed to show the athletic ability of horses in the show arena. Competitors are given one of ten approved patterns which are divided into seven or eight maneuvers, including small slow circles, large fast circles, flying lead changes, 360 spins, and what is generally considered the “signature” move for reining horses, the sliding stop. You can see each of these moves demonstrated here: http://bit.ly/UipTwu
Although a part of the sporting lifestyle is closely linked the spirit of the west; reining is growing in popularity around the world every year. Despite the seemingly relaxed attitude of the horse and rider on top of the loose reins typically used, reining demands high levels of concentration and riding skills with precision, finesse, attitude, and quickness, which are closely watched for scoring.
Over the next few months, we are going to be looking into the preparation for both Shawn and his horse “Spooks Gotta Whiz” owned by Michell Anne Kimball for the World Equestrian games in Normandy, France, which begin on August 23, 2014.
Last month at the historic Kentucky Horse Park, Shawn competed to earn one of four spots on the World Equestrian Games team USA. After two days of competition, Shawn was standing atop the podium.
CB: You have competed on Team USA every year since the competition began; was winning the qualifying this year just as exciting?
SF: Yes, of course!
CB: Do you have a favorite Team USA moment from over the years?
SF: There are so many different moments that are great. I think for me my favorite moment is standing on that podium as they raised the flag. That is the moment that really stands out to me in my head!
CB: Did you get to celebrate after the qualifying win or will you save the celebration for France?
SF: I didn’t celebrate after the qualifying. Hopefully France will go well! Plus being a team competition, we can hopefully celebrate together over there in Normandy.
CB: What was the most important part of your preparation for the qualifying that you felt really helped you stand out amongst the competition?
SF: Just making sure my horse was as best prepared as he could be for that specific pattern. He is a great horse, and we have competed together multiple times. I know what he needs to be prepared. Both of us being in tune together is just the most important thing.
CB: Now that you have earned another spot on Team USA, would you say it feels any different this year knowing you’re headed to France to compete?
SF: Not anymore excited than years past, we have been to Spain and in 2010 in Kentucky, they are all just as exciting.
CB: We will be following your preparation for yourself and your horse over the next few months; is there something you think people will learn about you and your horse that will surprise them?
SF: I think they will learn a lot of things. For the average person they will be surprised of the little details that both my horse and I have to follow through on to even get to Normandy. Little details such as getting the horse there, getting his food there, transportation for the teams horses once we arrive…there are just SO many things that I think the average person will be surprised to find out!
CB: It’s a long road to Normandy; is there something particular you have to keep in mind while making preparations for the months ahead?
SF: The only thing that I really have to remember is that it’s another horse show. It’s a competition and you have to do your basic work to stay on course and be prepared as you would for any other competition. I just make sure I have myself and the horse as best prepared as I can.