aunders Performance Horses  

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In an equine sport that is said to be the fastest growing in the world Shaun is a committed and ambitious young trainer paving his way. Shaun is the youngest rider to win the prestigious National Reining Horse Association Open Derby Title at only 17 years of age. He is a dedicated aspiring trainer who has been the leading rider in Australia in 2013,2014,2015 and 2016.

The oldest of four boys grew up on a cattle property in Central Queensland and it was there that his passion for horses began. When local Cutting trainers used to come out in weaning season and work their horses on the weaners, Shaun would have his pony saddled and sit in the corner and turn back all day waiting for a chance to work cattle. When he saw a Promotional video on the legendary quarter horse stallion Smart Little Lena he was awed by how awesome the partnership between horse and rider could be. This lit a fire and ignited his dream of becoming a horse trainer.

Since pursuing reining in 2003 Shaun has won High Point Youth of Australia including three state Championships and a Reserve Championship at the Nationals. Then in 2005 Shaun made everyone sit up and take notice when he rode Okies Spark to win the VRHA Open Derby with a score of 75 in his very first Open competition ever. Shaun continued his winning ways in 2005 winning the QRHA Open and then to put the icing on the cake for a great year he won the NRHA Open Derby Championship at only 17 years of age. The following year in 2006 he placed 3rd in his first NRHA Open Futurity appearance and defended his title well becoming Reserve Champion in the Open Derby.

In 2007 and 2008 Shaun completed a Farrier’s apprenticeship under well respected horseman and Farrier Glenn Wyse and TAFE teacher Colin Smith, an Englishmen who is a world class Farrier and shoe maker. In 2008 Shaun received 3rd year apprentice of the year.

2010 was a big year for Shaun, he and Hayley became engaged after two years of courtship and make a great couple and team. 2010 also saw Shaun win his first Open Futurity on Whiz Destiny at 2010 Pacific Coast Reining Spectacular; he also took out the Open and Intermediate Open Derby aboard the big turning hard stopping Doc’s Joelita. Shaun proved consistency by winning the prestigious QRHA Open futurity by an unheard of 11 points and winning the Intermediate Open Derby on Docs Joelita and Reserve Champion in the Open Derby. At the Reining Australia Nationals Shaun Won the first go of the Futurity with the highest score of the whole futurity. He finished third in the finals. He also won the Intermediate Open and Intermediate Open Derby and finished third in the Open Derby. Shaun then rode Whizz Peppy for owner Charles Kalnins to reserve champion at the Water Wheel reining classic and this put Whizz Peppy over $40 000 in career earnings and at that point he became the highest money earning horse in the country. Shaun has over $2000 000 in career earnings and growing.


Highest Money Earning Rider four years in a row

ARBC- Australian Reining Breeders Classic Shaun placed second on Condor Smart Play Scoring a 148 and fourth on Qxh Docs Stylish Oak.

PCRS- Pacific Coast Reining Spectacular  

Shaun won the Open Derby on QXH Docs Stylish Oak. 

QRHA- Queensland Reining Horse Association 

Open Futurity 3rd place on Wimpys Packin Heat. 

RA- Reining Australia 

Shaun rode QXH Docs Stylish Oak to Reserve Champion in the Open.


Shaun won Equitana on his mare Whiz Destiny for the second consecutive year. This made her the highest money earning mare in Australia. 


ARBC - Australian Reining Breeders Cup

This was the first year the ARBC was held and was developed by long time Reining Australia supporter, Errol Thomas. The event held Reining Australia’s National Derby worth $20,000 as well as other NRHA sanctioned events. The trip to Dalby, QLD was worthwhile for Shaun and his team taking out the feature event, the Open Derby aboard the 4 year old gelding 'Condor Smart Play' owned by Sean and Susan Donald. He also placed 4th riding the magnificent stud horse ‘QXH Doc’s Stylish Oak,’ also a 4 year old, owned by Xtreme Quarter Horses. Shaun rode Hasta La Vista to win the Open event. This was Hasta La Vista’s first show after having 3 foals.

Congratulations to all of the event organisers and sponsors for a successfully run show.

Pacific Coast Reining Spectacular

At the 2015 Pacific Coast Reining Spectacular Shaun won the Open Reining riding Hasta La Vista.

QXH Doc's Stylish Oak placed =2nd in the Open Derby followed by Condor Smart Play placing =5th.

Jason Melling, all the way from New Zealand rode his new mount Predator to win the horse 5yrs and over, Limited Open and the Open Non Pro.

NSWRHA State Championships

At the 2015 NSWRHA State Championships Shaun won reserve champion in the Open Derby aboard the magnificent QXH Doc's Stylish Oak.

Hasta La Vista won the Open, this being her 3rd Open win for the year.

Shaun also conducted a clinic for the NSWRHA as a lead up to the State Show in support of the club.

QRHA State Championships

As a lead up to the 2015 QRHA State Championships Shaun held a 3 day clinic for the QRHA in support of the Open Futurity. It was a great clinic enjoyed by all who attended, and a wonderful opportunity to touch up on showmanship right before the big show. Shaun an the QRHA have made plans do run another clinic like this before the 2016 State Championships.

RA National Championships


Pacific Coast Reining Spectacular

Saunders Performance Horses had a fantastic start to the year with Shaun winning the PCRS Open Futurity on Condor Smart Play for owner Susan Donald. He won on a 75.5 which was the equal high score of the show. Shaun also placed 3rd aboard QXH Doc's Stylish Oak owned by Xtreme Quarter Horses with a score of 73.5. Equal fourth with a score of 71.5 was Miss Custom Made owned by Ivy Thompson. Shaun was pleased with how his horses performed for their first Futurity.

NSWRHA State Championships

This year the NSWRHA held Reining Australia's National Derby. Shaun showed A Hollywood Whizz for Steven Gibbs to place 3rd with a score of 146.5. QXH Doc's Stylish Oak owned by Xtreme Quarter Horses was reserve Champion in the Open Futurity with a score of 145.5 and Miss Custom Made owned by Ivy Thompson placed 3rd and won the mare incentive for the highest placed mare in the Open Futurity.

QRHA State Championships

At the 2014 QRHA State Show Shaun place 3rd in the Open Derby riding A Hollywood Whizz. The Open Futurity concluded with Condor Smart Play receiving the Reserve Championship and QXH Doc's Stylish Oak placing 3rd. It was a very busy show with Shaun flying out the following day to compete at the World Equestrian Games.

World Equestrian Games

2014 was one of Saunders Performance Horses busiest and biggest years to date. Shaun was selected to represent Australia at the World Equestrian Games held in Normandy, France. CS Ranch kindly loaned the horses they had available to the team as well as the hospitality of the Ranch leading up to the Games. The Reining Team members were Shaun Saunders, Martin Larcombe, Shauna Larcombe, Bill Norwood and John Wicks. Shaun's mount Sparkin Tinsel is a nine year old Stallion owned by Corina Schumacher. Team Australia achieved their best result to date, placing 5th overall in the team division. Although Shaun just missed out on the final of the individual competition, it was a big thrill for him to compete with the best riders in the World in the go rounds and was happy to contribute to the team result. Shaun is very grateful to those who supported him throughout his WEG journey, and to everyone who raised money and made effort to assist the team in any way.


2014 saw Shaun pilot QXH Docs Stylish Oak and Ruf Major to Co Champions in the Open Reining. This was a great finish to the 2014 season with Shaun being the highest money earning rider for the second consecutive year.

Shaun would like to thank his owners and sponsors for their support.

The best is yet to come....

“There is no such thing as a horse trainer without horses so we are grateful to have had such talented horses to train and even more grateful to the clients who entrust their horses with us”.