Bred in SW Alberta by Brian and Colleen Coleman of Eaglesfield Percherons, High Hope Heather has certainly lived up to the high hopes of her breeders. Her sire, Queen’s Commander was purchased by the Colemans when they were in their 20’s and living in a “shack”, as Colleen describes it. The seller was asking $20,000 for the stud, a huge sum of money for a young couple in their circumstance, and so it was off to the bank for a loan. A loan for any purpose was a bit of a stretch, but for a horse? Things were looking up when they saw the banker had a photograph of a Percheron on his office wall. He gave them the money. They knew which mare they wanted to breed to their new stallion, but they had to take six other mares as part of the lease, and feed seven mares for three years to get Heather.

 

When the opportunity presented itself to sell Heather as a 3-year old, the Colemans took it, needing the money, but placed a caveat on the deal that they would have first option to buy her back if the new owner ever decided to sell. Four years later, her owner was forced to sell his herd, and sold Heather back to Brian and Colleen, along with her two year old filly.

Heather’s competition record is nearly flawless, placing below first in only two classes in her significant career. She was Best of Show and Stampede Champion at the Calgary Stampede three times, and in 2004 was top Aged Mare at the All American. Also in 2004 Heather was Champion Mare and Supreme Champion Horse at the World Percheron Congress in Brandon, Manitoba, beating out the Champion Stallion and Champion Gelding for the “gold medal” of the Percheron world.

The Colemans had 30 horses in their show string during the Congress and, when the staff were asked about their favourite, everyone loved Heather for her character, her personality and her low maintenance way. Far from being a show ring prima donna, Heather “gets herself ready” according to the Colemans. With priority given to their numerous client horses, Heather was usually stabled in the tie stall at the back of the barn with no window, and had the least amount of preparation time before going in the ring. A big mare, and quiet enough to be shown in hand by a child, Heather knows when to step it up, showing off like she’s a Friesian when she enters the ring in the hand of Brian or Colleen. Due to her size, she is always a wheel horse in hitch, but steps out like she’s the lead, incredibly light on her feet for such a massive mare. Her shoe size is even tough to find and Brian once paid overweight fees for bringing back a pair of her shoes in his suitcase when flying from the US.

Now twelve, Heather has had five foals, one of whom was Reserve Champion at the Denver Stock Show and another who was unbeaten as a foal. Unfortunately this yearling died in the barn fire at the Coleman farm in January of 2006. Thirty-two horses were lost in that fire, High Hope Heather one of only two survivors.

She is now retired from the show ring but has one last “judge” to win over. Now 104, Colleen’s grandfather raised Heather’s grandsire many years ago but has never had the opportunity to see his granddaughter’s world champion mare. The Colemans plan to haul her over one day so that he can see the result of the line of horses he helped create.

Brian and Colleen are extremely pleased with Heather’s current foal who is by an Alberta bred stallion. You might say they have very “high hopes” for his future.

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