Four-day horse show puts Clark County in spotlight

Champions Center events pump millions into local economy, organizers say.

The Buckeye Reining Spectacular (BRS) will slide into the Champions Center today for a four-day horse show event officials said brings around $4 million in revenue to the Clark County area.

The BRS was first held at the Champions Center at the Clark County Fairgrounds 10 years ago, and it has drawn competitors from across the United States and Canada.

“Think Yellowstone and (local horseman) Shawn Flarida,” said Kathy Lloyd, Champions Center event coordinator.

Flarida, owner of Shawn Flarida Reiners in Springfield, has earned $8 million competing with reining horses.

Events at the Champions Center pumped more than $40 million into Clark County economy last year, officials said. The facility is on track to exceed that amount in 2024 with the BRS being one of the top 3 annual events.

“We normally have an event every weekend, not just horse shows but cattle shows, dog agility, and more,” said Lloyd. “Even if you’re not a horse enthusiast, there is always something different to watch.”

Jaime Nelson serves on the board for the BRS. She said the Champions Center was selected for the event because of its central location. With two show pens, the Champions Center is also able to squeeze what would be a 10-day show at other locations into just four days.

The BRS is not a typical horse show. The event also features a fun, family-friendly atmosphere complete with a foam party, a Derby hat making contest, karaoke, a mechanical bull, vendors, food and more.

“Usually there is one person in the family that shows a horse, and everyone else get dragged along,” said Nelson. “We decided if you have something for everyone to do, it would be much more enjoyable.”

New this year is the Ranch Fuel Super Slide with $25,000 in prize money.

“A reining pattern has multiple things to it: spins, slides, circles — and riders get judged on all of them,” said Nelson. “This concept is like the Slam Dunk contest for the NBA and features the signature slide (maneuver).”

Nelson said the BRS has been consistent in what is provided to competitors: a friendly atmosphere where families want to come and added money.

“For them to drive this far, there had better be some money for them to win,” she said. “I don’t think it’s something you’re going to see anywhere else. It’s not a rodeo.”

For professional horseman Shawn Flarida, the BRS is just one of many reining competitions on his successful resume. He is also an original co-founder of the BRS event.

He has won every major event in the industry, and Flarida holds five gold medals for team USA in FEI competition. His son Sam Flarida is now taking the reins. Sam Flarida has won more than $300,000 and holds a spot in the Top 35 riders in his first year as a professional.

“BRS is an important event in our Reining community because it draws horses and riders from all over the country,” said Michele Flarida, wife of Shawn Flarida. “It’s well produced and there is something for everyone from great horses to family fun.”

Both Shawn Flarida and Sam Flarida will be showing throughout the event with their best classes during the highlight event, the Derby on Saturday.

Shawn Flarida’s late father, Bill Flarida, was well known at reining horse events, including the BRS. He will be honored with a sea of green shirts — Team Flarida’s color — on Friday.

Show attendees are asked to wear green in his honor, and t-shirts will be sold featuring Bill Flarida’s famous quote, “Just get a good ride.”

Proceeds from the t-shirt sales will benefit St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital.

“We are so humbled by the love and kindness that has been put into this tribute for Bill,” said Michele Flarida. “Everyone knew and loved him and the Go Green Event in his honor is a perfect way to celebrate his life and legacy.”

Flarida said this show season has been different for the Flarida family without seeing Bill in the middle of everything they do.

“We still feel him there,” she said. “I don’t think that kind of profound love and presence ever goes away.”

Michele Flarida said Bill loved his grandkids and great grandkids with his whole heart.

“The fact that St Jude’s will benefit in any way from this tribute would bring him great joy as it does us,” she said.

The Champions Center is located at 4144 Laybourne Road, Springfield.

Admission to the Buckeye Reining Spectacular is free.

About the Author