Click here to read the complete article
by: Susan Winslow
Linda and Gary Gordon, owners of Fossil Gate Farms, have been developing World Champion Halter horses for over 30 years on their magnificent 150-acre spread in Argyle, Texas. Specializing in Quarter Horses and Paints, the couple has amassed one of the most impressive stallion lineups in the country. They recently added some additional firepower to their breeding program with the purchase of mares from the Crundwell sale. In addition to a thriving breeding program that produced 36 foals this year, they offer show quality horses of all ages among the 100-120 horses available on the farm at all times.
Both Gary and Linda are fully dedicated to their goal of breeding the best Halter horses in the world. Linda says, “We both love the challenge of breeding to perfection with our horses. We put a great deal of thought and research into the history, conformation, pedigree, and disposition of each of the horses we breed, always striving to improve the breed.” Both Linda and Gary bring a solid background in the horse industry to their program at Fossil Gate. Linda hails from Texas where she grew up running cattle on her father’s ranch. A graduate of SMU, she competed extensively in Western Pleasure and Trail before focusing on Halter.
Gary is from Canada, where he comes from a long line of horsemen. “My father and my grandfather raised horses, so even when I’ve worked at different jobs, I’ve always had horses, too,” he says. “I was drawn to Halter because I love a challenge. With Halter, that challenge starts with researching the pedigree and breeding the right horse. Then, you must bring them along with a balanced combination of diet, exercise, and training in order to produce a winner.”
While both Gary and Linda have great respect for old, established bloodlines, they stay abreast of the competition and are always on the lookout for new bloodlines to complement their program.
That combination of research, dedication, and innovation has paid off with consistent success at the highest levels for Fossil Gate. Their stallion lineup includes the triple-registered (AQHA/PHBA/APHA) 2004 stallion Grand Slam Touchdown, a 2004 Palomino with two AQHA World Champion titles, AQHA Congress Champion title, and four PHBA Championships. The farm also stands AQHA World Champion, two-time Reserve World Champion, and Congress Champion Image of Kid. FG A True Fella is the Gordon’s home-bred AQHA buckskin stallion with a strong history of success including the 2006 Reichert Celebration $50,000 Championship, ABRA World Championship, ABRA and PHBA Reserve World Champion Sire, and AQHA World Champion in Amateur as well as being a two-time Reserve World Champion, amateur and open.
Im Tee Totally Cool won the 1998 World Champion title in Weanling Stallions, 1999 World Champion title in Yearling Stallions, and is a multiple World Champion and Reserve World Champion Sire for APHA, Pinto, PHBA, and AQHA. His foals have won over $82,000.
The farm maintains a healthy supply of frozen semen from the magnificent stallion and top sire, Mr. Yella Fella, who was lost last year after he developed an orthopedic issue. The incomparable Mr. Yella Fella was laid to rest on the Gordon’s farm at the age of 19. Described by Linda as a “once-in-a-lifetime horse,” Mr. Yella Fella put his indelible stamp on the dynasty he created at Fossil Gate Farms. By Paige Impressive and out of Let’s Skip Together, this four-time World Champion made a strong impact on the AQHA, PHBA, APHA, and ABRA through his offspring, each one carrying on the distinctive combination of their sire’s physical beauty and presence. His titles included two-time AQHA World Champion Halter Stallion, two-time PHBA World Champion, AQHA Superior Halter Horse with 173.5 points, and Congress Champion Amateur Aged Stallion. He was the leading sire of open point earners from 2003-2008 for PHBA. He is also a multiple AQHA and PHBA World Champion Sire. From 2005-2009, he was AQHA’s leading sire of Halter class winners in open and the leading sire for point earning Halter horses in open. From 2003-2013, Mr. Yella Fella was consistently in the top 5 sires for Halter horse winners.
Linda is still mourning the loss of 2010 AQHA Adequan Select Reserve World Champion FG Versace, by Im Tee Totally Cool and out of RS Skip Clue. She recalls, “We took a direct hit from a tornado that took the roof off the barn. The horses were all physically fine, but the next day, Versace dropped dead. I’m sure it was from the trauma of the tornado. We had such big plans for him, but we are fortunate to have his full brother, FG Ambassador, and very strong lineup of young horses. We have Grand Slam Touchdown’s half sister, Charm Bracelet, and her amazing son, FG Pistol. We also have FG Phenomenal Fella, a yearling palomino by Mr. Yella Fella and out of three-time World Champion filly FG Phenomenal Miss. “He’s young, but he’s getting a lot of attention,” Linda says. “He inherited the best qualities of both parents, and he is exquisite. This one just makes your heart beat faster. There are big things in his future.”
Gary and Linda are both detail-oriented and fully dedicated to their mission at Fossil Gate. They have spared no expense when it comes to the quality of care for their horses. That includes a full service laboratory at the farm. Linda says, “We can handle everything from stallion collection and embryo transfer to extensive blood work right here on the farm. We stay on top of everything with our horses to ensure they are healthy, from routine blood work to monitoring semen from our stallions to maintaining consistently high motility rates.” The farm can ship frozen semen throughout North America and offers mare care to outside mares on a limited basis. Linda says, “We want to make this a very positive experience for our clients. We welcome people to the ranch, any day except Sunday, to view the stallions and sale horses and learn more about what we have to offer. Educating our clients is part of that, because we want the owners to be happy with the horse they buy from us or the foal that comes from breeding to one of our stallions.”
In addition to miles of pipe-fenced pastures and paddocks, Fossil Gate has a 29 stall breeding barn, a 40 stall mare motel, an 18 stall show barn, and a 5 stall quarantine barn. “This is our life,” Linda says with a smile. “We both love the horses and the challenge of producing the best Halter horses in the world. Seeing the success that our clients have when they get out in the show pen is what makes this all worthwhile. It’s very rewarding.” Gary adds, “We want to breed and raise the best Halter horses in the world that are conformationally correct, sound, and have good minds. We want to encourage people to get involved in this sport. We want our legacy to be horses that improve the breed, are fun to own, and achieve success for their owners.”
They support that goal with active participation in the Breeder’s Halter Futurity Program. Both Linda and Gary serve on the board, and they believe the program has breathed new life into the Halter industry. Linda explains, “The BHF classes give people motivation to get out there and show, because there is a reward system for their hard work. It’s opened a new venue for people to get involved, and there are some classes that pay up to 10 or 20 spots. When people can go to a show and potentially come home with $1,500 or $2,000, even if they’re not in the top ten, that’s a motivating factor to get involved, and it adds a lot of fun to the experience. We’re getting a lot of positive feedback about these programs.”
Although their lives are fully centered around the breeding, sales, and competition aspects of Fossil Gate, Linda and Gary have added a new venture to the farm: racing. Their talented filly, Jess Walking Thru, by Walk Thru Fire and out of Jess Sass Me, was honored as the 2014 AQHA Racing World Champion 2 Year-Old Filly. She won the Dash For Cash Futurity at the Lone Star Park (G1) and took third in the $2 Million Dollar Futurity at the Los Alamitos Race Course (G1). Despite suffering an injury when she was pushed into the guardrail by another horse, this plucky filly came back to compile a respectable 8-3-0-2 record. Linda says, “This is something new for us, and it’s been exciting to see her do so well. She’s in New Mexico with trainer Mike Robbins, and it’s going to be fun to see how she does this season.”
Linda and Gary share the same dedication to the farm and their horses, but they also maintain balance in their life through two of their favorite passions outside of the horse world. They are dedicated fans and season ticket holders for the Dallas Cowboys, and they travel whenever time allows. “We’ve been all over the world,” Linda says, reeling off an impressive list of destinations including Australia, China, Thailand, Russia, Bora Bora, Tahiti, Europe, and Hawaii. She laughs and adds, “Naturally, we always look at horse farms wherever we go!”
This year, after returning from a trip to Hawaii, Linda and Gary will hit the ground running. Their breeding business is busy, and although they already have a number of young horses qualified for the AQHA World Show, they’ll be working on qualifying more, while bringing along their exciting new foal crop. They’re planning on taking three horses to the Palomino World Show in July and promoting the program at Fossil Gate through their performance. “Whether you’re looking for an outstanding stallion to breed to or a youngster from a solid breeding program with a long history of success, we welcome inquiries and the chance to introduce people to our horses.”