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Industry Mourns Star Of The Future



Reserve World Grand Champion Star Of The Future

May 3, 1988- February 17, 2008

He Made Our Chest Heave, Our Heart Throb and Our Legs Go Weak.

by: Stephanie McLaughlin Rawlinson

Anyone who knew, or knows, the Rowland McLaughlin family knew who Star Of The Future was.   He was a once in a lifetime horse for this family and was such a big part of their lives.  Sunday morning at about 6:40 AM, he crossed over the rainbow bridge and went to the big horse show in the sky.  On Sunday, February 17th, 2008, RWGC Star Of The Future was laid to rest on the McLaughlin farm at South Oak in Florence, S.C.  Star Of The Future passed after being diagnosed with colic on Saturday evening.  Everything humanly possible was done to make him comfortable.  Star of the Future was well known in the walking horse industry as “the little horse that could and would”.  Born May 3rd, 1988 to the World Champion Senator & Grit's Lady and World Grand Champion Pride's Jubilee Star this bright eyed and bushy tail young foal came in to this world fighting.  Dr. Miller and Ramsey Bullington were there for the birth.  Originally, he was owned by Mandy Dawn.   Mandy sold Star as a yearling to Preacher Walter Langdon.  Preacher Langdon had the colt in training with Joe Fleming Stables.  Joe immediately saw the potential in this young colt.  The first few months of training were not simple for Star.  There are a number of local grooms and colt trainers who will tell you their stories of being thrown from his back.  There are still rumors of a destroyed car, training cart and harness still floating around Shelbyville.  He was definitely green and Preacher Langdon wanted him sold before he hurt anyone.  Joe Fleming had a customer who was always willing to take a chance on a horse with heart and promise.  So, he called Rowland McLaughlin.   Rowland agreed to buy half of the colt sight unseen but he didn’t want to get a training bill.   After a few videos and a few phone calls, Rowland decided it was time for him to go check out this horse he had bought.   The first time we saw him he made our chest heave, our hearts throb and our legs go weak.  He was a big handsome horse with a presence that could fill a room, a ring, or a barn.   It was amazing the way he could make all of those who knew him love him.  He knew how to get attention and he didn't just want it...he demanded it.   He was a cocky little horse who knew he was in charge.  He knew he was loved and he made himself known to anyone who came in contact with him.  He lived to be the center of attention.   As he stood in the cross ties you could see the beauty... he was a beautiful mahogany bay stallion with a long full mane. He had beautiful little fine ears, a pretty little head and nose that looked like it would fit in a teacup.  He had such kind eyes.  You knew in his eyes there was gentleness about him. He had a gorgeous blaze that was broken over one of his nostrils.  When he felt good...he would kind of half skip around and roll his head out of his shoulders right down his neck.  His mane would fall all over his head making him look like a wild horse. It was then when he was most beautiful.   His first show was with Wade Hickman in Etowah Tenn.  He won the two-year-old stallion class.   He was shown only sparingly his two-year-old year because he was still very small in comparison to the other colts his age.  By May of that year Wildwood Farms had purchased 100% of Star Of The Future.   Star began his three-year-old career with Joe Fleming in the irons.  What a wonderful team they made.  Joe worked with Star on the bit.  He gave him a wonderful mouth.  Joe and Star took a number of blues together to include but was not limited to the Money Tree Classic.   His three-year-old year with a reserve in the three-year-old stallion class at the Celebration.  These were the neon hat years.  We don’t know why Rowland selected neon other than he wanted people to notice the hat and be able to remember Star Of The Future’s name. 

In the winter after his three-year-old year, the decision was made to move Star Of The Future to the Carolinas.  He was closer to the family and thus closer to the Wildwood Farms mares.  After a very short breeding season, the decision was made to take Star Of The Future to Baucom Stables in Monroe, N.C.  Chad, Eddie, Jeanette and Wadene Baucom were Star’s family.  They took such good care of him.   Star Of The Future and Chad made their first appearance as a team at the National Trainers' Show and took home the blue in the four-year-old stallion class.  The year proceeded with blues at the SCWHLA show in both the four-year-old amateur class with Stephanie McLaughlin riding and the championship class with Chad Baucom.  Stephanie and Chad shared the saddle and the blues until the Asheville Land of the Sky show.  It was decided after that show that Star was in a league of his own, and would be campaigned at some point for the World Grand Championship and would no longer be an amateur mount.  The four-year-old world grand championship ended with Star a reserve World Grand Champion Four-Year-Old.  It was when Star was four that the promotions began to appear.  The McLaughlin’s felt that the hats and ads in the paper were not reaching the larger audience at the shows whose support they needed not only in the show ring, but also in the breeding barn.  The decision was made to design a new logo, create a new marketing plan and find some new products.  The new logo was the letters SF intertwined and the word Star Of The Future under it.  The new hat design was a bright blue top with white stars all over it and a red bill.  The new logo was exactly what we thought the first time we saw him…”He’ll make your chest heave, your heart throb and your legs go weak. . .”   The appeal and reception was terrific.  Throughout his life over 3,500 t-shirts, 2,000 pair of star boppers, 5,000 hats and 50,000+ buttons were given out.   When he turned five Star Of The Future was still growing and filling out so the decision was made to give him an extra year before he was campaigned for the World Grand Championship.  Chad and Eddie Baucom elected to put Star in the 15.2 class.  He won at both the National Trainers' Show and the Spring Fun Show.  After his four-year-old year, over 100 mares were bred to Star including 45 owned by Wildwood.  He was shown in North and South Carolina his five-year-old year in championship classes.  He was undefeated going into the Celebration.  At the Celebration he won the 15.2 & Under Stallion preliminary and was second behind Royal Label in the 15.2 & Under World Grand Championship.   Star spent the fall breeding season at Glen Oaks Farm in Murfreesboro, Tenn., allowing his fans in Tennessee the opportunity to breed to him.

He returned to Baucom Stables in the early spring to get ready for his big year.  He was ready willing and able.  He gave 110% everyday.  When Chad asked, he came with it.  Finishing second at both the National Trainers' Show and the Fun Show to Maker’s Red Mark, we felt like we were in a good spot as a top contender.  Star made powerful performances at the East Tennessee Classic and Land of the Sky horse shows.  The Celebration was an exciting time for everyone.  There were balloons, bill boards, magazine covers, stars and more stars.  You could feel the tension in the air.  Star was featured in several horse magazines, the Shelbyville Times, the local television station and ESPN as one of the top contenders.  The decision was made to show our horse, do all that we could do, give 110% and do the very best we could do and let the chips fall as they may.  Star Of The Future played his part and he gave everything he could give that last Saturday night before Labor Day.  He walked away with his head held high and a reserve world grand championship ribbon to show for it.  He went on to finish that year as the NCWHA Grand Champion.  The following year, Star showed and won all over North and South Carolina, and Tennessee.  In the preliminary stallion class he suffered from a collapsed larynx and was rushed to Haggard, Davis and McGee for immediate surgery.  He was at that point informally retired from World Grand Championship competition and spent the remainder of his years enjoying life.

When not in training in Monroe, N.C., Star loved to come home to Wildwood.  He enjoyed twice-daily swims and an occasional work out by Stephanie, Celia or Sam.  Rowland loved to play horse trainer and could often be found at the barn when he was home for visits.   He had a special stall just by the door where he could look out and see us across the pond at the office.  He loved to give little nibbles when he was playing, and he was always into mischief.    If a horse could have been a lap dog...Star would have been one.  He wanted to be rubbed on by any and everyone.  He wanted to be scratched in just that right spot between his front legs, on top of his rump and just above his withers on his neck.  He would roll his top lip up and his head out as if he were going to pass out it felt so good.  When it was a woman with nails.... you would even get a nodding of the head to show it felt good. He had his little tricks and games.  When Rowland was living he would walk in the barn and Star would always give him a little shout out.  After his larynx surgery, he had that raspy whinny that just made him sexy in his own right.  If Rowland didn't acknowledge him... you have never seen such a fit thrown by a horse. They played the hat trick on a regular schedule.  Rowland would walk in the stall with a ball cap on...Star would walk over and take it off of his head.  Rowland would try to take it and Star wouldn't let go.  Then Star would walk off.  Rowland would say..."Drop it!" Star would drop the hat and when Rowland went to pick it up, Star would step on it.  Silly game, but how many people can say they had a horse that did party tricks.   He was also a Houdini of sorts. Rowland liked for him to wear a halter or for one to hang just outside of his stall door.   Star would always get the halter off or off of the door.  He would hold it between his teeth and swing it around so that it just did hit the door or the wall...TAP! TAP! TAP! TAP! TAP!  It about drove us crazy.  We got him a toy apple thinking that would entertain him...he much preferred his halter. He was the one knocking on the door when it was feeding time. He could not understand why he was not first.   He was the one who would kick the door if you left him home when the horse trailer left for the shows on Saturday.  Then you got a good talking to when you got home.  Even after we informally retired him we ended up showing him some just because he wanted to go!  If he were in the crossties and he felt another horse was getting more attention from onlookers, he would stomp his front left foot on the ground until someone walked over and talked to him.  Rowland always said Star was left-handed.

Riding Star was like getting out of a regular old truck and getting into the driver’s seat of Dale Earnhart's racecar and going full speed ahead on the track in Darlington.  He was so powerful and strong. He had such a big heart and motor.  He gave 110% everyday of his life.  The ride was unbelievable and indescribable. He made you feel like you were winning ...even if you weren't. It was the ride of a lifetime every time you got on him.  Things he taught us...patience, friendship, integrity, love, anger, fear, honesty, jealousy, contentment, timing, touch and freedom.  In the ring, it was a totally different game.  He would perk those little pretty ears up and listen.  He knew how to entertain a crowd.   If he didn't win... he was not happy.  Most of the time would not stand still in the lineup.   He knew how to go get a ribbon and he always put on a show when he did that.  He would kick playfully at his tail brace. He was ticklish on the backs of his hocks and his tail just touched there. He knew how to take care of his riders.  He took so many kids on their first spins after he retired.  He just knew and was careful.   The following people won blues on him that we are aware of: Wade Hickman, Joe Fleming, Chad Baucom, Stephanie McLaughlin Rawlinson, Sam McLaughlin, Celia McLaughlin Urquhart, Jenny Vining McLaughlin and Kenneth Young.

We would like to thank those folks who played such an important part in Star Of The Future’s life. First, thank you to Mandy Dawn who was his breeder and gave us such a fine animal to love. Ramsey Bullington and Dr. Miller for pulling him in to the world, Joe Fleming for finding him, Wade Hickman for breaking him, Preacher Langdon for selling us his "crazy" colt, the crew at Joe Fleming’s for taking good care of Star the first three years of his life.  To Chad, Jeanette and the crew at Baucom Stables, we will always be grateful for your friendship and loyalty to Star.  Dr. Robby Hewitt you were always there when he needed you.  To the true blue Star Of The Future fans: Buddy Stasney, Adam and Joel Johnson, Laurie Miller Turner, Amanda Campbell, Chrystal Hunneycutt, Sladyen Fleming Harris, Melisa Brooks Pate and Lyndley Brooks McMillian you guys were the greatest. To the Glen Oaks Crew, SW Beech Stables Crew, Wildwood Farms Staff, Joe Weaver, Sam McLaughlin, Randy Lollis and Stan Tindal...thank you for taking such good care of Star after he retired. To the Brooks, the Potts, Mrs. Janice Carter, the Millers, the Epps, the Newton's, the Jones', the Anderson's, the Larry (other) McLaughlin's, Mandy Dawn, the Young's and the Bunton's, a sincere thanks. You supported us as we supported him. We will always be grateful for our true friends who helped us stay grounded in our principles and dignity. To the many fans, he really loved you guys.  He loved the roar of the crowd and lived to see you all on Saturday night. He was a totally different horse when he got there to the show and heard you all. He always perked those little fine ears up and listened for you.  You were always such a blessing to us and to him. There were times when Rowland looked down and said..."We might own him but all those people out there love him."  It was an honor to have him for the little while he was with us.  He was a blessing given to us to care for and love.

Star, you were definitely the horse of a lifetime. We are so grateful that you were a part of our family. You gave us a lifetime of good memories that we will carry with us forever.   We will never forget you and will always love you. You were always, and will always be, a winner in our hearts!

You made our chest heave, our heartthrob and our legs go weak...

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