We hope you enjoy photos of some of Heartland's amazing horses, most have gone on to amazing new owners!
Heartland Quarter Horses - Amazing Ability and Cool Color!
(How the Silver Dapple gene was discovered in American Quarter Horses)
An American Quarter Horse Association Life Member, LeRoy Vossler has been raising American Quarter Horses since 1974. His appreciation for the versatility of that particular breed led to a very interesting development in the history of AQHA color genetics. An anomaly in registering the color of Bar U Champ Binder's foals led LeRoy in a direction he never imagined when starting his breeding program.
The story started In 1982, when LeRoy traveled from his home in northern British Columbia to the famed Bar U Ranch (now a national historic site) in southern Alberta to help a college friend prepare for a ranch production sale. With no intention of buying a horse, LeRoy chose to fly the 1,100 or so kilometres to Calgary, then catch a ride back home with other friends who were attending rodeos in the area. Helping with sale preparations, he had a chance to see the horses going to sale "up close". One yearling colt particularly caught his eye. The young horse's rich,deep color, great conformation, and flashy, lightened mane and tail were obviously attractive, however there was much more to this one. The colt was very calm, the intelligent look in his eyes seemed to understand what was expected of him as he tried to comply. This was exactly the qualities LeRoy looked for in a horse, and as a result, the 27 year partnership between him and Bar U Champ Binder began.
Once back home, they realized "Champ" was nice to be around ... he would be "gelded at the next chance". LeRoy "didn't need another stallion" on the farm. "A good stallion makes a GREAT gelding". The plan was that Champ would be trained as a ranch horse and used by LeRoy on the rodeo circuit. That fall, Champ was entered in local horse shows at halter, consistently winning first place ribbons. His easy-going demeanor and flashy presence won him a place in the hearts of all who met him. By the following spring, it was decided that Champ would not be gelded after all - a decision that if made in another direction, would mean this was the end of the story.
Champ went on to sire many unusually-colored foals, always talented and with exceptional minds. The outstanding athleticism, disposition and trainability was evident as a dominant trait, and his foals were always sought out for many disciplines, excelling in ranch work, cutting and reining. His "funky colored" offspring continued to be noticed and were always the first to sell. The reason for such unique coloring was not discovered until 2004 when a lady from North Carolina, USA, saw Champ's photo and suggested a hair sample be sent to the University of California, Davis Veterinary Service for DNA color confirmation. She was certain he was carrying the elusive silver gene!
Silver dapple is a dilution gene that only affects black pigment. Because the silver modifier gene is dominant, a horse carrying it has a 50 percent chance of passing on the color to its offspring. If a black horse has the silver modifier, its body color will range from a silvery gray to a dark chocolate. The mane and tail will be lightened. A bay horse with the silver modifier will still be bay or brown color, because the silver gene does not affect the red pigment. The bay horse's points however, will turn a "diluted" color, turning to anywhere between a dark gray to pale silver. They are easily confused with liver chestnuts with flaxen manes. Silver can be detected by a DNA test on hair.
Champ was originally registered in1981as a "chestnut, with flaxen mane and tail". As a rule, a chestnut horse bred to a chestnut horse will produce a chestnut foal - because the red, (chestnut) gene is recessive. For a horse to be chestnut it must carry only the chestnut gene. Therefore, when people tried to register "bay" and "black" foals from chestnut mares that were sired by Bar U Champ Binder, the improbability caused AQHA to request DNA color verification. Bar U Champ Binder's colors were officially changed in 2005 by AQHA to "bay" with an added notation "carrying and expressing the silver dapple gene". Champ was 24 years old, and enjoyed 4 more years with his "new" color.
Out of his love and appreciation for Champ, LeRoy's focus at Heartland Quarter Horses expanded from raising quality "using" ranch horses, to include maintaining and guaranteeing the preservation of the silver dapple gene introduced to the Quarter Horse world by this great stallion.
Champs Waspy Cat (1986), a bay silver mare by Bar U Champ Binder and Waspy Baker (by Waspy King Bar), is now the grand old lady of the breeding program. Owned by Patricia Ann Vossler, "Kitten" has produced 7 silver foals, including the silver stallions Waspy Leo (2006); Chinky Silver (2008), and Champ Silverado (2010). Champs Waspy Cat, at 26 years old, is still sound and healthy, and part of a breeding program. Chinky Silver stands at stud at Heartland Quarter Horses. Champ Silverado is at Fleetwood Farms in Alberta, where his new owner is amazed at the intelligence and ability of the youngster. Outside trainers are thrilled with these colts, they love working with them and state they are a pleasure to have in their barns.
The next generation of silver AQHA's are now producing silver foals. A beautiful bay silver dapple filly, Silken Silver, was born in 2012, and immediately spoken for. Sired by Chinky Silver and from Silkie Dynamite (by Doc O Dynamite) the arrival of this beautiful girl realized LeRoy's dream of preserving the line. As an extra guarantee, "superior quality" semen from Chinky was frozen. Chinky has been declared free of diseases in a 5-panel test conducted by Animal Genetics Inc. He is Negative for: HYPP, HERDA, GBED, PSSM1 and MH. At this time, limited semen sales are available to breeders of American Quarter Horse registered mares in North America. Heartland will consider sales to Europe should enough interest be shown.
In 2014, Heartland Quarter Horses, in partnership with Sterling Silver Quarter Horses, embarked on an ambitious embryo transfer program. Third and fourth generation bay silver mares from Bar U Champ Binder's line were gathered, and were bred to Chinky Silver in order to produce foals with the silver gene. The goal for the program is to produce homozygous silver AQHA horses that can then be crossed with some of the top names in the industry.
We are now able to announce a homozygous bay silver colt, Silver Assured, was produced in 2014. "Sterling" is owned by Ryan Smith at Fleetwood Farms at Cochrane, Alberta. A homozygous bay silver filly was born at Heartland Quarter Horses in 2017. Heartland's homozygous silver filly will remain with the herd to continue this amazing legacy.