Outdoors

Video: Erin Bolster, Tonk wow crowd on The Late Show with David Letterman

Whitefish, Mont., wrangler Erin Bolster and her horse, Tonk, caught a lot of attention when they appeared on Late Night with David Letterman on Oct. 11, 2011.  Tonk enjoyed the view from this trailer while in downtown Manhattan. Actor Matthew Broderick enjoyed meeting Tonk.  And Bolster delighted the post-show crowd by getting Tonk to flap his lips. (Courtesy photo)
Whitefish, Mont., wrangler Erin Bolster and her horse, Tonk, caught a lot of attention when they appeared on Late Night with David Letterman on Oct. 11, 2011. Tonk enjoyed the view from this trailer while in downtown Manhattan. Actor Matthew Broderick enjoyed meeting Tonk. And Bolster delighted the post-show crowd by getting Tonk to flap his lips. (Courtesy photo)

Watch the video clip of Erin Bolster and Tonk on Late Night with David Letterman. The full segment will be broadcast tonight on CBS:

Fans of heroes, horses, wranglers and grizzly bears will get it all in one package tonight on the Late Show with David Letterman.

Trail riding guide Erin Bolster and her horse from Whitefish, Mont., are being featured on the CBS talk show after a Sept. 18 Spokesman-Review feature trotted the duo into the national spotlight.

“How can you not love this story?” Letterman says as he introduces Bolster in a show taped earlier today. The host praised the 25-year-old wrangler who leveraged her own bravery as she convinced the horse to save a child by charging a grizzly bear head on.

Bolster had been acquainted with the leased horse from the Swan Mountain Outfitters stock pool for only two months.

“Our first guest showed remarkable courage when she and her horse, Tonk, rescued a young boy from a 750-pound grizzly bear – 750 pound grizzly bear: that’s like (all the people in) Row 2,” Letterman says, pointing to the audience.

In the interview, Bolster says Tonk initially “didn’t want to be there” when the grizzly ran into her group of eight trail riders.

The bear was chasing a deer. But when the deer escaped in the pandemonium of panicking horses, the grizzly continued its pursuit – bearing down on a fleeing horse carrying Ian Turner, an 8-year-old guest from northern California.

Horse experts have marveled at Bolster’s ability to get Tonk to overcome his natural instinct to run away from the danger. With Bolster’s heels in his ribs, the large Percheron (draft horse) mix, wheeled around and charged the bear three times before driving it away from the boy and the other horse.

“Erin was just awesome,” said Greg Turner, the boy’s father. “I can't say enough good things about her.”

Tonk reacts similarly when Letterman introduces him to the nation on tonight's show. That is, when the studio audience roars with applause, Tonk initially wants to head for the barn.

“Must be a bear on 53rd Street,” Letterman says as the huge white horse pivots and moons the crowd.

But Bolster composes the horse, holds his head tight to her shoulder and confirms that she bought Tonk after his heroic performance against the bear.

“He’s my boy now,” she says, to the crowd’s approval.

“Lovely story,” Letterman says. “And take good care of this guy.”

“Wow. That was awesome,” Bolster said in a Facebook post after taping the show this afternoon. “Tonk tried his very hardest to be a good boy. He was so cute… love him.”




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Rich Landers

Rich Landers’ Outdoors blog


Rich Landers writes and photographs stories for a wide range of outdoors coverage, including a Sunday feature section and a Thursday column. He also writes the Outdoors Blog.


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