Suffice to say, December of 2019 won’t soon be forgotten by a bright young lady from Franklin, Tennessee, the town just south of Nashville on the Harpeth River.
Next week, Blair McFarlin will graduate from Auburn University in Alabama with a bachelor’s in animal science.
On Saturday, she had her biggest moment in the National Reining Horse Association. Astride Starlight N Dreams, McFarlin won the Level 1 Non-Pro division of the NRHA Futurity at the State Fair Park in Oklahoma City, riding to a 215 in the finals.
“Man, I ran into the pen today and she was right with me,” said McFarlin, 22. “I knew it was going to be a good run. She never faltered, stayed right with me. She let me really push on her. She was fantastic today.”’
For the “Vanna,” a daughter of Magnum Chic Dream and out of Strike A Star (x Grays Starlight) the result was a dramatic improvement over even as recently as a few days ago. The pair qualified for the Level 3 finals through the consolation round. On Tuesday, Vanna, bred by Todd Albers of Illinois, and McFarlin rode to a 210.5, 43rdin Level 3. In the consolation on Wednesday, they improved to a 211.5 and were one of five qualifiers, and on Saturday their 215 was eight-best in the finals.
Over the course of the four months that McFarlin’s father, Mike, has owned her, Vanna’s improvement has been even more sharply defined, considering an initial run in Tulsa that Blair McFarlin described as “not great.”
McFarlin also showed her “green mare” in Ardmore in October.
“Each time, we got a little better,” McFarlin said. “My first run [on Wednesday] was pretty good. In the consolation, she was really good and [Saturday] morning, she was great.”
Team McFarlin walked away with a check for $7,503 for the Level 1 success. A third in Level 2 earned them payday of $7,506. They won $5,750 in Level 3.
A total of $20,759 is worth getting up in the morning.
“She’s been everything we could have hoped for,” McFarlin said. “She was a little green when we bought her, and we knew that. But when I tried her out she had a great foundation on her and suited me to a T.
“I knew we’d be a fool not to buy her. Every day since then she’s gotten a little bit better and a little bit better.”
Everybody is excited about everybody’s future in the McFarlin barn.
While at Auburn, Blair was a national champion as part of the nation’s top-ranked equestrian team. Her senior class won three National Collegiate Equestrian Association championships, part of six at the school, including two consecutive. They also won two Southeastern Conference championships and went 61-10 overall over the past four years.
Against Georgia in this year’s national championship in Waco, Texas, she won her reining match, 221.5-208 over Courtney Blumer.
In the “real world,” she plans to work in livestock marketing, combining her bachelor’s degree with a minor in marketing. She hopes that it’s somewhere around home.
She won’t be putting away her saddle anytime soon, either. And retirement is not in Vanna’s immediate future.
“We’ve come a long way,” McFarlin said, while sitting atop her mare. “She is very cool to ride. She’s the same horse every day. To be a mare … she’s not moody at all. She’s incredible.“I’m excited about her future.”