Skip to content

Heartland Heiress: She Lived To Show

by Bob Funkhouser


“If I ever wanted to go into battle with just one, it would be her,” said Rich Campbell referring to the late Heartland Heiress. “She was the most athletic, energetic pony I ever worked. Every time you pushed the button, she fired.”

Those sentiments held true with everyone who was ever associated with dynamic long-tail daughter of Dun-Haven Bandolier and Heartland Elegance. Heiress survived colic surgery during the recent J.D. Massey Show but then died from complications when she returned home to the Ruth Gimpel Stables in Florida. She was 11.

Gimpel had purchased Heiress from her breeder Darrel Kolkman as a four-year-old for the Rosburg family and they won title after title together. Gimpel and Heiress formed a bond like no other pony or horse she had ever worked.

“She was very special. Every day she gave you her best,” said Gimpel. “She was the complete package: sweet, kind, went just as high in plates as she did her show shoes.

“This was a pony who gave her all for you. You never had to fight or work at getting it out of her. I remember one day she was playing a little too much and I just raised my voice at her and she got mad at me and sulked around here for a week. She wouldn’t have anything to do with me. I’ll never forget that. She was more like a very smart dog instead of a horse.”

Bred and raised at the famed Heartland Hackney Farm, Heiress was shown in hand as a weanling and was undefeated. According to Kolkman, they were offered a lot of money for her at that stage but weren’t ready to sell yet. She was turned out as a yearling and then shown in hand again as a two-year-old. Towards the end of that year, she was started in harness by then-Heartland Hackney trainer Mike Dumas.

Deb Egan joined on as trainer for the Kolkmans the following year and won the Midwest Three-Year-Old Futurity; the Hoosier Hackney Futurity; the junior class and Harness Pony Grand Championship at Lexington Junior League; the World’s Champion Harness Pony Mare title and the reserve world’s grand championship to American Flyer. This was all as a three-year-old. A month or so before
Kansas City there was another change at Heartland Hackney, and Wendy Winstead and Kathy Capsuto took Heiress to Kansas City where she was also the UPHA Harness Pony Classic Grand Champion.

“She was born with a freaky, high trot,” said Darrel Kolkman. “She would trot alongside of her mother and was going four or five inches above level. She got her head carriage and presence from her sire’s family and she got that extreme, open motion from her dam’s side. Heiress was out of a Sky King and Emotion daughter. Emotion was by the great breeding pony Humdinger. Emotion daughters have produced a great number of world’s champions including Heartland Rain Song, Heartland Triple Crown, Heartland Victory and Heartland Heiress.”

Rich and Beth Campbell took over the lines in 1999 and took her to even greater heights. With Beth at the whip, Heartland Heiress was crowned Lexington Junior League’s Harness Pony Grand Champion that year as a four-year-old. It was there that Gimpel selected the star for Helen Rosburg. Heiress stayed with the Campbells through Louisville where Beth drove her to the Four-Year-Old Harness Pony World’s Championship and the Harness Pony World’s Grand Championship.

The next year under Gimpel’s direction, Helen Rosburg and Heartland Heiress won several titles including Lexington’s Ladies Harness Pony Class and Amateur Harness Pony Grand Championship. At Louisville they were reserve to the great Brass Lass in the amateur ladies qualifier, but then returned to wear the roses as Amateur Harness Pony World’s Grand Champion.

Their career continued with stellar performances all across the country. They commanded titles from Gasparilla, Tampa, Asheville, Southeastern Charity, Pro-Am and Chattanooga, among others. Throughout her career, however, Heiress battled colic. This last surgery was her third.

“We did everything possible for her,” said Gimpel. “We wet her oats, wet her alfalfa cubes…did everything to make it easy for her. The vets said after this last surgery that she had a transverse colon, whatever that means, and they said that could be the reason she had the problems. I know one thing, there will never be another one like her.”

“She was the best one I ever worked,” added Rich Campbell. “You were always on the brake with her. You never touched the gas pedal.”

More Stories