Horses are at the heart of Heartland
Heartland has become a favorite among horse lovers. This series, which is available on Netflix, follows the life of Amy Fleming and her family, who live on a cattle farm called Heartland.
After her mother dies in a tragic accident while saving the life of a horse (Spartan), Amy is forced to take over her business of fixing broken horses.
Amy soon becomes known as “The Miraculous Girl”. Although she works with a variety of horses, some of which are never named, these are the horses that play central roles in the series.
“Heartland started using horses to heal human lives; progressed to how human lives can heal horses,” said Shaun Johnston, the actor who plays Jack Bartlett in Heartland. There is no doubt that the many equine actors are just as important as the human ones!
Since the pilot aired in 2007, Heartland has always focused on horses, not just as background characters, but as the main characters themselves. For example, Stormy, the horse that originally played Spartan, is still used in the show. The beautiful black horse is Amy Fleming-Borden’s main horse in the show. “Stormy is still with us and is still an important part of the show. Having a horse be the main character for 12 seasons is something you don’t see every day,” said Amber Marshall, who plays Amy Fleming-Borden.
The equine actors in the hit Canadian drama Heartland are just as important as the humans. Meet some of the equine stars from the series.
Spartan is the horse Amy and her mother were saving when the tragic accident happened in Season 1, Episode 1, “Coming Home”. He is a black Quarter Horse who was severely abused by his previous owner.
After the accident, he was even more traumatized, but Amy works with him as an ode to her mother. Spartan becomes her horse and together they do various things, including jumping and even free work.
In the show, Spartan is mainly portrayed by the Quarter Horse gelding Stormy. He was only 5 years old when the Heartland directors cast him as the main horse character and he’s been around ever since!
Amber Marshall, who plays Amy Fleming in Heartland, always talks affectionately about Stormy. “He knows his work and he really likes it.” she said in one of his interviews. The actress pointed out that she has known the horse for as long as Amy has known Spartan, which is why their bond is so special in real life.
However, Stormy isn’t the only horse who plays Spartan in Heartland. He’s had plenty of stunt people over the years to perform scenes that are beyond his training. At the end of Season 5, for example, it was Zyada and Sonny who played Spartan during Amy’s audition for Dark Horse.
“Stormy was only five when the show started,” Amber said. “I was impressed that a five-year-old boy did so well under the pressure we put on him. There are a lot of different sights, sounds and people, and things going on – it would be unsettling for most horses. He took it all in stride. He seems to really like it. You watch him on set and he watches everyone doing their thing. It’s almost like when we use other horses, he gets angry, like ‘Wait a minute, this is my job!’
“I usually ask him for any scene that’s emotional, just because I know if I have a big scene and I lean my cheek against a horse’s face, Stormy won’t headbut me in the middle of the moment. He knows his work and really likes it. ”
Phoenix is a gray horse that appears in Heartland in episode 1 of season 6, “Running Against the Wind.” He loves jumping and, along with Georgie (also a fugitive at the time), they’ve built an amazing jumping partnership.
“Jag is the guy you see standing in the barn. Your job is to look good,” Alisha said. “He’s also more of a Western horse – he’s a Quarter Horse. In any horseback riding scene, we use it, or any silent scene where we’re not doing super hard work. We’ll also use it on an English saddle.”
“We use Ghost as our jumping horse. He is definitely a jumper! He didn’t go through the same training as Jag. We don’t normally use it for scenes where Phoenix is around. Ninety percent of the time we use it to jump.”
Alisha started on the show when she was 10 years old. At that age, like most girls, she was especially crazy about horses. Ironically, her relationship with Jag started out difficult because of that. “I was a boring little girl who loved to spank him with love,” she said. “When we started, he hated me because all I did was touch his face and nose. He just hated it.
Now he’s a little older – he’s about 18 – and he’s still pretty grumpy. If you touch him the wrong way, he will be very angry. We developed an interesting relationship because we’ve known each other for a long time. He got cuter with me. In season 11, when Georgie went through a period of bullying online, she had a scene with Phoenix where she was crying on his shoulder. In scenes like this, where I get emotional, he gets really cute. We have an interesting bond now that we’ve been together for so long.”
“We’ve developed real-life connections with these horses because they’ve been on the show playing their characters for a long time. It’s really cool to see how the connections we build with them on TV are so similar to our connection with them in real life. ”
Copper’s first appearance was in season 1, episode 4, “Taking Chances”. Originally it belonged to Lou (Amy’s sister), but Mallory eventually “buys” Copper.
Mallory helps out at the Heartland Ranch, but everyone sees her as a member of the family. She and Copper share a special bond. Copper’s real life name is Midget and he is a very calm and lovable horse.
He goes through several adventures, from being trapped in an abandoned well to being arrested by cattle thieves. Cooper is a laid-back brown gelding who is always willing to help.
Paint is a white and red gelding American Paint Horse that was given to Jack (Amy’s grandfather) when he retired from the rodeo circuit. We see Paint for the first time in episode 7 of season 1, “Come What May”.
Jack and Paint have an extremely close bond, probably due to the many hours they spend together gathering and transporting livestock. After a long working life, Paint unfortunately succumbs to arthritis in Season 9. Jack will refuse to ride again until he finds Buddy the horse.
Buddy was trapped on an abandoned farm where Georgie found him in Season 9’s Episode 3, “Riding for a Fall.” His friend Bear, a brown gelding, had already escaped from his paddock and was attacked by a bear. Fortunately, Amy and Georgie find him and take him inside.
It was Bear who took Georgie back to the farm to rescue Buddy. After Paint dies, Buddy becomes Jack’s new horse.
In real life, Buddy’s name is Bullseye and he is a trained horse. Bullseye is actually Alisha Newton’s favorite horse on set!
Shaun described one of his favorite moments in season 12: “Around episode nine, where we’re herding the wild horses at Will Vernon’s house…it’s such a small moment, but you can see it. We are leading the savages across a great field. We’re trying to separate a mare and a foal, and this mare, she was very protective of her foal, they were really mother and daughter. I’m trying to separate this mother and baby from her. She started charging and she would kick Bullseye right in the mouth. Bullseye and I saw it at the same time. I pulled back a little but I really wouldn’t have to because Bullseye is smart, he saw what was coming. She never kicked, but you could see she would if I kept pushing her, and Bullseye could have broken his jaw.
“This is a small moment in a lot of weird episodes we may have done; it is an indication that nothing is the same. On any given day, when we are working with these beautiful animals, nothing is the same every day. ”
Pegasus was the horse of Amy’s father, Tim Fleming, first appearing in episode 2 of season 1 “After the Storm”. He is a gray gelding that Tim rode on the rodeo circuit until he had an accident. After the accident, Pegasus also fell ill, but Amy’s mother, Marion, took care of him.
After Marion dies, Pegasus is depressed but gets better with Amy’s help. He finally strangles to death in a heartbreaking episode in Season 3, where Tim reminisces about the good old days.
Sugarfoot is a miniature horse that is the companion of the old lady Mrs. Bell in Heartland. He is a cream pony who lives in her house. As his name suggests, he loves candy and in one episode he upsets an entire home when he enters a party to eat carrot cake.
Sugarfoot is often seen pulling Mrs. Bell’s buggy, which is usually filled with homemade treats and medicinal herbs. He also helps many horses overcome their fears, from crossing water to pulling a carriage.
Sugarfoot is played by Little Chief, who is a horse with a big presence. In fact, he was Graham Wardle’s (Ty Borden)’s favorite horse on set for a while. Sugarfoot first appears in episode 7 of season 1 “Come What May”.
Apollo is the jumping horse Ashley ridden in the early seasons, when Ashley and Amy are still archenemies. It is owned by Ashley’s mother, Val, who uses it as a bargaining chip to control her daughter. Apollo lives in Val’s equestrian center, Briar Ridge, and enters the show for the first time in season 1’s episode 1, “Coming Home.”
After a fight, Ashley finds Apollo in a meat truck with a bunch of other horses and begs Amy to keep him in Heartland.
Champ is Tim’s palomino horse who first appears in episode 3 of season 1, “Breaking Free”. They have a weird relationship throughout the show. Tim always counts on him, and Champ is always trustworthy.
Tim doesn’t name Champ until season 7, although Champ has made several appearances on the show since season one.
Red is Ben Stillman’s brown jumper. He lives in Heartland for a while, when Ben is busy training for jumps. We see Red for the first time in episode 7 of season 1 “Come What May”.
But while Red is a great horse, his owner is not always the most forgiving rider. It takes a hard fall and a few harsh words from Ty for Ben to realize he’s wrong. His aunt Lisa sends him to learn some alternative techniques from Amy.
Shorty is Caleb Odell’s original lasso horse, first appearing in Season 2 episode 1, “Ghost Horse.” Mallory also rides Shorty when she decides she wants to try being a cowboy (a dream that was short-lived).
Shorty is a gray Quarter Horse that is actually quite short. But he’s also fast and very reliable, especially on the rodeo circuit.
Storm is the gray horse Tim buys Amy for her 16th birthday in Season 2 episode 2, “Letting Go.” Unfortunately, Amy already has a lot to do and realizes that Spartan needs her more than Storm.
She decides to sell Storm to Nick Harwell, a jumping coach and polo player who makes some appearances on the show.
Slick e Betty
These two make a quick appearance in Season 2’s episode 4, “Dancing in the Dark,” when Lou’s old friends head to the ranch. Betty is blind and is always at Slick’s side.
Intent on being a gift to Amy, Ty buys Harley, a Spartan lookalike, at auction in episode 16 of season 2 “The Ties That Bind.” But Amy refuses to accept that Spartan will not return and Ty takes on the task of taming the dark brown colt, after which an inseparable bond is formed.
Kramer is the brown and white horse of Jake (Mallory’s friend) who develops a love of jumping in season three. Mallory then uses Kramer to learn the jump. He first appears in episode 3 of season 3, “Man’s Best Friend”.
Lightning Dexter is a brown racehorse that develops a problem entering the gate. Her owner at the time, Lisa, approaches Amy to help her out in Season 3’s Episode 7 “The Starting Gate,” but she’s too busy.
Tim then buys Lighting Dexter from Lisa and eventually Lightning Dexter is trained as a jumper after an injury.
Pal is not called Pal because she is a palomino. She’s called Pal because Tim’s illegitimate son Shane becomes her best friend when her mom brings him to Heartland for the first time in Season 4’s episode 17, “Burning Down the House.”
This is the castrated vaulting palomino that Amy didn’t want to relocate. Chaplin knew of her work and this inspired Amy to convince her owner Sandra to return to the swing in episode 5 of Season 5, “Never Let Go.”
Ghost is a very special horse in Heartland’s history. The gray appaloosa appears in Season 1’s episode 10, “Born to Run,” as part of a herd of wild mustangs heading to the slaughterhouse.
Amy does everything she can to stop Wes from selling the herd. She eventually gets him fired and releases the wild horses back to the wild.
After he got his freedom back, Ghost keeps reappearing at Heartland Ranch. He becomes a metaphor on the show and always appears when big events happen, like someone getting sick/hurt or when Amy gives birth to her daughter Lindy.
The Budget Buster is owned by Olivia, Georgie’s arch-rival gray jumping horse who lives at Hillhurst Training Center. He and Olivia share a shaky bond because Olivia doesn’t spend enough quality time with him. We see Budget Buster for the first time in episode 8 of season 9, “Reckless Abandon”.
Pogey is a small white and blond pony that was a gift from Tim to his granddaughter Katie. She named the pony after her favorite stuffed horse from when she was little. Katie and Pogey go through many adventures together, including getting lost in the forest.
Pogey first appears in Season 7’s Episode 3, “Wrecking Ball.”
One of the greatest jumpers in the world, Zeus was almost impassable until Prince Ahmed made Amy start working with him. He enters the series in season 7’s episode 9 “There but for Fortune” and is kept on Hillhurst for now.
Success with Zeus takes Amy on a summer tour of Europe with Prince Ahmeds’ jump team.
Checkers is Georgie’s swing horse. He’s a tabby Caleb gives her. Although he doesn’t have many characteristics, he is a very reliable and easygoing horse.
Trouble was definitely tough when he first came to Heartland in Season 8, Episode 18 “Written in Stone”. Georgie had to spend a lot of time getting him used to being ridden together with Phoenix for his performance.
Mitch, who eventually becomes the new farmer, arrives in Heartland with Maverick in Season 9’s episode 14 “No Regrets.” Maverick is your brown gelding that’s causing you trouble. Jack suggests that he take the horse to Heartland for Amy to examine.
Turns out Maverick missed its owner while he was at war. They form a formidable team on the farm.
Originally planned for the ranch, this palomino mare becomes Lou’s after she mistakenly thought the horse was Mitch’s gift intended for her. We see Venus for the first time in episode 7 of season 10, “Riding Shotgun”.
Minnie is a bay mare that Georgie sees at an auction in Season 10’s episode 1, “There Will Be Changes.” Mitch agrees to buy the sweet nature mare.
When she arrives in Heartland, everyone jokes about her being fat, but upon closer inspection, Ty discovers that she is indeed pregnant. With twins. The mother and the two foals survive the birth.
Taking care of the foals was, in fact, Amy and Ty’s first test for paternity. As we found out last season, the couple are expecting their first child!
While Amy is pregnant, she goes to teach at a clinic in Season 10’s episode 12, “Sound of Silence.” One of the participants abandons Chance at the clinic, which Amy decides to take home with her.
Amy, Georgie and Tim are in an accident on the way home and Chance is trapped in the trailer, heightening his fear of being confined to small spaces. But he’s saved and a year later he’s one of the most docile horses at Dude Ranch.
A retired horse, Boots is rescued from an unhappy home and becomes Luke’s horse. He first appears in episode 5 of season 12, “Change of Heart”.
Jade buys a brown horse named Ringo from a dealer in episode 3 of season 13, “Rearview Mirror”. However, after letting Amy and Ty have a look around, we found Ringo had back problems.
After a few lessons in equine massage with Amy, Jade manages to deal with Ringo’s problem.
These are by no means ALL the horses featured in Heartland, but they are some of the favourites.