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, Shaun 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.
Equitana Shaun won Equitana for the second consecutive year, this time on his mare Whiz Destiny. 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 Shaun rode QXH Docs Stylish Oak to Reserve Champion in the Open Classic and was fourth on Condor Smart Play. In the Open Shaun was Reserve Champion QXH Docs Stylish Oak after a run off and equal third on Hasta La Vista.


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.
Equitana 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.



Saunders Performance Horses and our clients have had a great year. Shaun and A Little Elroy won the first show of the year the QRHA Open Derby Shootout. And a big congratulations to Tim Hoffmann who won the Non Pro on Predator!! The next show the Q13 Open Derby saw Shaun and Whiz Destiny become Reserve Champions. At the Pacific Coast Reining Spectacular Shaun and Astonlee Kool Hustler were reserve Champions in the Open Futurity with a score of 74. Whiz Destiny ran a 75 to Reserve Champion in the Open Derby and then backed it up with another 75 to win the Open the next morning. Our Non Pros had a great great show, with Steven Gibbs winning the Prime Time Non Pro, Katy Jamieson who ran her very first 70 to win two buckles and congratulations to Greer Campbell winning the Rookies level 1 and 2 Co champion in the youth.

The QRHA State Championships was a great show for Saunders Performance Horses. Shaun won the Open Derby on Whiz Destiny. Our Non Pros also had a great show with wins from Katie Jamieson and Greer Campbell. Hayley showed for the first time in a while after having her first child winning the ladies.

A Hollywood Whizz was great for Shaun in the open Futurity running a 147.5 for the win!! This is Shaun’s third QRHA Open Futurity Championship. Shaun rode Playgirls Whiz to win the first CRI of the year with a 142.5. Shaun also rode Whiz Peppy to a 150 to Reserve Champion in the Open.

The Reining Australia National Futurity show shaped up to be one of their biggest in years. It was another go show for our Stables and for the QRHA club winning the Affiliate championships. Our Non Pros had a great show with Tim Hoffmann winning the Non Pro Classic for the second year in a row!! Greer Campbell won the Youth. Also congrats to Bailey Lowe on winning the Open Non Pro. Shaun and A Little Elroy won the Open and the Open Classic for owner Julie Johnson. Then came the event everyone was waiting for the Open Futurity. Shaun rode A Hollywood Whizz to a 219 third out and held the lead right until the last horse when John Wicks went around them on a 219.5. What a show!!!

Equitana 2013 saw Shaun and Scott and Kate Glovers Ruf Major imp crowned reserve champions, Shaun also placed 3rd on Whizz Peppy and 5th on A Little Elroy.

What a year Shaun earned over $39,000 in prize money and for the year of 2013 Shaun was Australia’s leading money earner.

We would like to thank all of our clients for their ongoing and valued support. We would not have the opportunity to train and show such great horses without the trust of our owners. We thank all of the people who have pitched in and helped us this year, past and present, whether it be at home, at shows or both; we couldn’t do it without you guys.



Equitana 2012

Whizz Peppy was in great form heading in to Equitana taking out the GVRHA Ride and Slide to Equitana Open Championship. At equitana he ran a great pattern and turned the best he has ever turned. A bobble in his second stop cost him points and he came up short placing him third. I am so proud of this horse at 11 years of age to show so well, I beleive that puts his earnings over $60 000.

QRHA State Championships

Shaun rode Big River Spanner In The Works for owner Ivy Thompson to 4th place in the Open Futurity and Smoke N Calboy for Jolene King to 5th. But the highlight of the show came when Shaun and Whizz Peppy proved what a great team they are putting together a winning run in the Open on Saturday night scoring a combined score of 151.5. American Judge Ollie Griffith scored Shaun and Whizz Peppy a 76.5 equalling the highest score in Australian history. Congratulations to owner Charles Kalnins!

NSWRHA State Championships

The NSWRHA State Championships was a great show for Saunders Performance Horses. Shaun won the Open and the Open Derby aboard Sweet Whiz Sugar for owner Jo Buckley. Big River Spanner In The Works had a smoking run in the Open Futurity to place 3rd for Ivy Thompson. Smoke N Calboy also had a great run in the Futurity and ended up 5th for Jolene King. Congratulations to all competitors and place getters and thanks to NSWRHA for hosting a great show.

Q12 Derby Show

Shaun rode Avril Storeys Migs Miss Whizzel to 3rd place.

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”.


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