While many words could accurately describe Shawn Flarida and Spooks Gotta Whiz, “clutch” might be the most fitting. Cool, calm and collected, the duo came up big in Team USA’s anchor position at the 2014 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games, scoring a 229.5 and guaranteeing Team USA’s fourth consecutive gold medal in reining.
Draw 75 in the final go-round on August 26, the National Reining Horse Association $5 Million Rider knew he needed a big score to top team mates Andrea Fappani and Mandy McCutcheon—tied for first with a 224, along with Austria’s Martin Muhlstatter and Wimpys Little Buddy. Aboard the 7-year-old bay overo stallion Spooks Gotta Whiz, Shawn certainly had to horsepower to do so; together, Shawn and “Baby” marked a huge 229.5, vaulting the duo to the top of the leaderboard and clinching Team USA’s medal effort.
A veteran WEG exhibitor—now a member of his fourth U.S. team—Shawn says the reining industry worldwide is strong.
“The competition is getting really tough,” Shawn said. “I had a great horse to ride; he’s really fun to ride. It’s an honor to be with this group, but every team I’ve been on has been awesome.”
Team USA laid down impressive scores throughout the competition, netting a cumulative 677.5. Andera Fappani took over the leader spot on August 25 with a 224 score aboard Custom Cash Advance (QH); teammate Mandy McCutcheon matched the score the following day with Yellow Jersey (QH). Jordan Larson and the buckskin solid Paint-bred stallion HF Mobster—registered with APHA as Gunns On The River—netted a solid 221 score. All four members of Team USA also advance to the individual medal competition on Saturday.
When asked what makes their horses so special and capable of success time and time again, each team member cited their horses’ quiet minds as central to their success.
“I think any horse that is capable of what these horses are doing, their mind is the No. 1 thing,” Jordan said. “Of course, they have to be physically capable, but my horse’s mind is incredible. You don’t have to worry about what he is thinking; you know you can trust him and that goes so far.”
Dueling with Team USA was Team Belgium: Ann Poels aboard Nic Ricochet; Cira Baeck riding Colonels Shining Gun, a 2007 sorrel overo stallion; Bernard Fonck with Sail On Top Whizard; and Piet Mestdagh riding RS Spat Mano War. Belgium scored 663 points to take home the silver medal for the second consecutive Games.
Rounding out the medal was Team Austria, scoring a cumulative 658.5. The team includes Martin Muhlstatter and Wimpys Little Buddy; Rudi Kronsteiner and Dr Lee Hook; Tina Kunster-Mantl and Cashn Rooster; and Markus Morawitz with Dun It Whiz Jerry.
The Top 15 individual scores advance to the individual finals on Saturday; five additional riders from the individual consolation round on Thursday will also be invited to the individual medal finals.