Reading Niki Flundra’s long list of accomplishments (so far) makes you wonder what you’ve done with your life. 


Let me just reel off some of her qualifications: a master horse trainer, a licensed pyrotechnics expert, a multi-award-winning act as a trick rider and a Liberty horse trainer who has performed multiple times at every major rodeo in North America, a successful stunt woman seen around the world in movies and Heartland, among others, a mom to three boys (Ridge, Shade and Kace), married to 3X Canadian Saddle Bronc Champion Dustin Flundra, a rancher, and, as if that’s not enough, she is also the founder of Heart of the Horse, an equine-focused training session/competition complete with clinics, shopping, a stunning night show (with pyrotechnics, of course) and inspirational guest speakers. 

She is tiny, tiny, tiny, but as strong as an ox, gracious and almost Southern in her manner, yet she quietly commands thousands of pounds of horseflesh to do as she asks — without a halter or bridle in sight. 

“I had it in the back of my mind for quite a while,” said Niki, as she explained her reason why she started the extravaganza. “I’ve always been in event production and have worked in film, the Stampede and at the CFR on the pyro crew 

for many years, special FX in movies — and I really enjoy that creative aspect,” she said. “I was at the point in my life when I was thinking of scaling back my time on the road. Three little ones and a trailer full of horses, and at that time, Dustin was still rodeo’ing, so I was looking for a change.” 

“I still needed a career,” Niki continued. “I wondered if I could make a go of a big event, and so I’ve been trying to build it up, and so far, it’s working.” 

Her reputation as a master trainer attracts top trainers, her reputation as an exciting performer attracts the crowds, and her reputation as a class act attracts the horse owners to place their valuable young horses under her care. 

Niki started Heart of the Horse in 2019, and the response was enthusiastic. Then the next year, everything fun in Canada and pretty much around the world (except South Dakota) was forced to shut down. 

In 2021, she changed everything up (held outside, for example) and then finally, after the darkness cleared, in 2022 it was sheer strength of will on her part that saw Heart of the Horse rise from the ashes. It was moved to a new location — the Silver Sage Arena in Brooks, and yes, the patrons, trainers, shoppers and fans came back to rekindle the momentum. 

“We thought long and hard about where we were going to move it to, and it was the Silver Sage venue that provided everything that we needed.” 

Trainer’s challenges aren’t new, yet Niki has found a way to present them in a different light. 

“It’s really cool how it works,” enthused a patron. “There are three pens, three horses and three trainers all going at the same time.” 

“We have a ton of ranchers, and people who are involved in the ag industry,” Niki explained. “The one thing that I believe is that there is something in it for everybody. From those who just like to watch horses, to those that are involved in high-level training. There are demos, night shows, clinics and the social aspect — no matter where you’re at with horses, there’s something there for you.” 

The lineup also appeals to those of a more philosophical nature as well, with the inspirational speakers she invites who share their life experiences that inspire and teach. 

Amberley Snyder (the young Texan whose partial paralysis saw her back in the saddle and even barrel racing at The American rodeo, due to overwhelming fan support) is one of the speakers Niki has hosted in the past. 

“She’s a personal friend of mine, and I know she has inspired my journey. Whether you’re a horse person or not, to hear her story is a blessing.” 

This year, HOTH is hosting 2012 Canadian Bareback Champion and six-time NFR qualifier, JR Vezain. Paralyzed from the waist down at a rodeo in Texas, his comeback story is inspirational. 

“You asked me why I wanted to do this,” continued Niki. “I wanted to have a different spin, where, at the core, it helps people with horses. I know what horses have done for me,” she paused. “Everybody has challenges, and some have more, but I think that those who have the blessings of having a horse, they know what they bring to their life — and I wanted to bring that to people.” 

Heart of the Horse is on Aug 24–27, 2023, at Silver Sage Arena in Brooks. For more, visit