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Spartan is Heartland star Amy Fleming’s main horse on the show. His real name is Stormy, and he’s been playing the role for over 14 years. Despite Spartan being his first acting job, Stormy took to the role and quickly became a fan favorite.
In the first episode of Heartland, Amy and her mom are on a rescue mission to save Spartan from his abusive owner. Unfortunately, Amy’s mom tragically dies on the way home, but Amy lives on to carry her legacy.
Just like her mother, Amy also has a special gift for healing troubled horses. Using her talents, she gets through to Spartan, and they become invincible partners. Whether it’s show jumping or performing at liberty, the pair of them will always prevail.
Below, we answer some common questions about Spartan from Heartland!
*Warning: mild spoilers ahead*
Is Spartan Amber’s Horse in Real Life?
Spartan and Amy’s partnership is so convincing on screen that fans began to wonder whether there’s more to their story. While Stormy and Amber have a connection in real life, it all started because of the show.
Spartan is not Amber’s horse in real life. All the main Heartland horses are owned by John Scott, the head wrangler of the show.
John Scott is well-known in the film industry as a stunt coordinator and wrangler. He’s worked on major productions such as The Lord of the Rings franchise or The Revenant. His company John Scott Productions has supplied dozens of movies with specially trained animals, props, and filming locations.
Together with 160 movie horses, Stormy lives on John Scott’s Long View ranch in Alberta, Canada. Scott’s herd includes cast horses for actors to ride and skilled stunt horses that rear, buck or fall on command.
While she can’t own Stormy, Amber Marshall has several horses of her own. On her 100-acre ranch in Alberta, Marshall keeps three beautiful Quarter Horses and two Miniatures.
You can read more about Amber’s horses in our Amber Marshall guide.
“Beautiful, majestic, calm, inquisitive… and a star.”
Amber Marshall has always admired Stormy’s talent to perform in front of the camera. In her interview with Horse Nation, she pointed out that Stormy was the youngest horse on set when the show started. “He immediately fit right in and has learned so much about being a movie horse over the course of the show.”
But Marshall is not the only one with a soft spot for Stormy. Other cast members have also praised his intelligence, friendliness, and work ethic. Apparently, Stormy enjoys the “Amy and Ty” scenes the most, as he’s always very attentive in the background.
According to Marshall, most horses get bored quickly during the barn scenes. “Not Stormy–he soaks up every minute of fame,” she told Horse Nation.
Hear Amber Marshall talk about Amy and Spartan’s connection:
Does Amy Get Spartan Back in Heartland?
In Season 2, Episode 16, “The Ties That Bind,” Spartan is mysteriously stolen under the veil of the night. Amy and Ty desperately search for him at every auction, assuming the thief wants to sell him for profit.
Luckily, Amy does get Spartan back eventually. She and Ty catch Wes buying him at an auction for $1800. Wes agrees to hand him over after Jack and Tim visit him.
At first, Wes refused to give Spartan back or even to sell him at three times the price. Since Amy didn’t have a bill of sale, she couldn’t prove that Spartan was stolen either. The situation escalated to the point where Jack and Tim beat Wes up in a warehouse, forcing him to sign a bill of sale.
How Did Spartan Break His Leg in Heartland?
In Season 6, Lou decides to host a jumping competition at Heartland. Georgie and Mallory both enter the show riding Phoenix and Spartan. However, right before her round, Mallory spots her crush Jeremy kissing Cassandra.
At the end of Season 6 Episode 12, “Playing With Fire,” Spartan breaks his leg after landing from a jump. Both Amy and Mallory blame themselves for his injury, even though it was just an accident.
In the next episode, Amy must decide to go through with Spartan’s surgery or put him down. Unable to say goodbye to the horse her mom died saving, Amy pushes for the surgery. Jack and Tim help pay for the vet bill, and Spartan is once again saved.
What Happens to Spartan in Heartland Season 13
When the show started, Spartan was a young, energetic horse around 5 years of age. However, that was over 13 years ago, and this is where Spartan’s new plotline stems from.
In Season 13 of Heartland, we see the first signs of Spartan getting old. First, he doesn’t respond to Amy’s liberty cues, then injures himself after a simple jump. Amy now has a tough decision to make.
In Season 13, Episode 9, “Fight or Flight,” Spartan is still recovering from his jumping injury. Knowing that Amy might not have a horse ride soon, Georgie suggests she buys Atlas.
Atlas is a beautiful bay jumping horse from Fairfield Stables. Amy previously connected with the horse when Lisa brought him to Heartland once, hence Georgie’s suggestion.
While Amy is reluctant to replace Spartan, she acknowledges that he’s getting old. But instead of simply buying a horse from Lisa, she chooses to gentle a colt from the wild herd.
Does Spartan Die in Heartland?
Although Spartan is getting old, he doesn’t die in Heartland. As of Season 13, Amy semi-retires him so another horse can do the heavy lifting instead.
In Season 14, Amy only rides Spartan very sparingly because of his arthritis. Her main horse is now Harley, Ty’s old horse, but she’s still planning to gentle the wild chestnut colt.
How Many Horses Play Spartan on Heartland?
In the film industry, the main equine characters are always played by multiple horses. There’s usually a main horse who does most of the scenes and several doubles skilled in different stunts.
Various horses played Spartan over the years. The main horse has always been Stormy, a black Quarter Horse gelding. His doubles include Rocky, Stetson, Zyada, and Sunny.
While most Heartland horses belong to John Scott, Zyada and Sunny are owned by stunt rider Niki Flundra. They play the roles of Spartan and Zephyr in the liberty scenes of Season 5. Sunny is a 10-year-old registered Paint, and Zyada or “Zee” is a six-year-old Quarter Horse.
The talented horse trainer from Pincher Creek, Alberta, is also one of Amber Marshall’s role models. “I really look up to Niki Flundra whom I have already mentioned. She is an amazing horsewoman and is very respected by her horses. I think earning the respect of a horse is very important.” she told Horse Nation.
Unfortunately, old age is not only a reality for Stormy’s character. According to Horse Canada, Heartland‘s equine star has been battling arthritis himself. Production has been bringing in more stunt doubles for Stormy, while he still does the less physically demanding scenes.