Blair McFarlin and Starlight N Dreams won the 2019 NRHA CINCH L1 Non Pro Futurity Championship.
By Nichole Chirico; Photos by Waltenberry
It takes some horse-and-rider teams years to fully understand each other in the show pen, but when Blair McFarlin threw her leg over Starlight N Dreams, a mare by NRHA Six Million Dollar Sire Magnum Chic Dream and out of Strike A Star, three months prior to the 2019 NRHA Futurity, she knew they had an instant connection. McFarlin’s gut feeling was right, and the two took home the win in the NRHA CINCH L1 Non Pro Futurity.
When breeders and nominators Todd and Angie Albers had the chance to buy back their former show mare Strike A Star, they knew she would do well in the next chapter of her life as a broodmare.
“Strike A Star was such an athletic, pretty, and good-minded show horse,” Angie shared. “We knew we wanted to try breeding Strike A Star to some of the top reining studs in the country to see how she did as a broodmare. When we met Magnum Chic Dream in person, we fell in love with him and knew the baby would be super gorgeous and athletic. As breeders, we were just beaming with excitement knowing that one of our babies made the NRHA Futurity finals.”
The Perfect Match
McFarlin, no stranger to the show pen, started her reining career at the young age of 12. However, for the last four years her main focus has been competing on Auburn University’s equestrian team—leaving her without a futurity mount. This year, McFarlin decided it was finally time to return to the NRHA show pen, working with NRHA Professional Nathan Piper to find the perfect horse.
When they came across “Vanna,” who was in training with NRHA Professional Kole Price at the time, they knew she was the one.
“We had tried several horses before her, and she was actually the greenest one we’d ridden so far, but I connected with her instantly,” McFarlin shared. “We would’ve been fools if we didn’t get her.”
While Starlight N Dreams may have been considered green, Price said she had no problem making up for lost time when she got to his house.
“I got this mare in February of 2019 after my buddy Jason Donahue started her, and he did a great job,” Price explained. “She was fairly green at the start of the year but picked up on things really fast.
“When Nathan [Piper] tried her at the end of summer, I told him, ‘You’re going to feel like she’s a nice horse, but you have no idea how far she came. If you take the time needed with her, she’ll be a really nice show horse for you.’”
Piper agreed with Price, adding that within the last few months before the show the mare just kept getting better and better with each ride.
“This little mare has been a team player the whole time,” Piper gushed. “The two just keep getting better and better with each ride.”
With college graduation coming up, McFarlin wasn’t sure how much she’d be able to show in 2020 but planned to take it easy and attend a couple of derbies to see how Vanna feels going into her 4-year-old year.
Piper, on the other hand, joked that after some of the schooling rides he had on the young mare at the 2019 Futurity that he was thinking about flipping a coin with McFarlin to see who gets to show her in 2020.
“We’re going to flip a coin, and I have a coin with heads on both sides,” he said with a smile. “She’s just going to have to pick tails.”