A 14-year-old Shawnee Middle School student recently won a team silver medal in reining at the world championship.
Sam Flarida, son of Michele and Shawn Flarida, traveled to Switzerland to compete on the Platinum Performance U.S. Junior Team for the 2017 SVAG FEI World Reining Championship. On the youth team, Flarida helped the U.S. nab the silver medal and as an individual, placed 10th overall.
“I was nervous because it was such a big thing,” Flarida said. “But I just thought it was really cool because we got to go over there and see how good we were and how good our horses were.”
Flarida competed on Footwork Revolution, a horse he had ridden only once before in New York when he qualified for the team.
Reining is a western riding competition that involves the rider guiding their horse through maneuvers involving precise stops, spins and circles. Riders are typically evaluated by three judges who look for degree of difficulty, precision, and the willingness of the horse.
“I’ve always just kinda been around it so I’ve so always rode,” Flarida said.
He began riding when he was 4 and competing when he was 8, over the years accumulating success. He’s also a three-time All American Quarter Horse Congress Champion and has placed in both ancillary and aged horse National Reining Horse Association events.
Flarida grew up around the sport because his dad Shawn Flarida is the National Reining Horse Association’s first and only $5 million rider.
Even though he’s already accomplished so much in the sport, Sam Flarida is already moving on to accomplishing other goals he’s set.
One of those future goals in to win a futurity. A futurity is completed on a three-year-old horse instead of on the seven-year-old horses that are normally ridden.
The inexperience of the horse adds to the difficulty of the event, he said, and makes it one of the highlights of reining competitions.
“It’s harder because they don’t know as much so you’ve got to help them more,” Flarida explained.
Flarida really loves to ride, but when he’s not in the barn, he says he’s focusing on school work or hanging out with friends.