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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.”
Ian Turner, 8, of northern California is pictured here on a horse named Scout on July 30, 2011, shortly before they were chased by a grizzly bear on a trail ride with Swan Mountain Outfitters near Glacier National Park. Wrangler Erin Bolster and her horse, Tonk, rode to his rescue, challenging the bear until it ran off.
Here's what Ian's dad has to say, as posted on the Swan Mountain Outfitters Facebook page:
My name is Greg. My son Ian is the unnamed 8 year old. Erin was just awesome. I can't say enough good things about her. Even aside from her chasing down Ian and Scout, you could not do better by having Erin as your guide. Although, could someone tell Scout not to be chasing bears? :-). Thank you again Erin, you are awesome. Someone was watching out for us all that day.
GREAT STORIES — If you like heroes, horses, blonde horse wranglers and grizzly bears, tune in to the Late Show with David Letterman tonight.
My Outdoors feature story last month, "Gutsy wrangler, huge horse, save boy from charging grizzly" struck a chord with Spokesman-Review readers –and then spread to readers across the continent like jet-propelled stallions.
The news didn't escape Letterman, who owns a Montana ranch near Choteau. Letterman's handlers shipped both the wrangler and the horse from Whitefish to New York. Tonk was chauffeured on a five-day expedition in a comfort-controlled van with breaks every three hours or so.
The 25-year-old wrangler and her horse are scheduled to be taping two segments today for the show that airs tonight. Bolster and her huge Percheron mix horse will be sharing the show with actor Matthew Broderick (Ferris Bueller's Day Off).
The story of Erin Bolster and Tonk riding herd on a grizzly bear near Glacier National Park went viral on the Internet, capturing the hearts of a country with an appetite for heroes, horses and potential tragedies with happy endings – for both the people and the bear.
The family of the 8-year-old California boy Erin rescued from the bear posted high praise for the Virginia-born wrangler on the Swan Mountain Outfitters Facebook page:
My name is Greg (Turner). My son Ian is the unnamed 8 year old. Erin was just awesome. I can't say enough good things about her. Even aside from her chasing down Ian and Scout, you could not do better by having Erin as your guide. Although, could someone tell Scout not to be chasing bears? :-). Thank you again Erin, you are awesome. Someone was watching out for us all that day.
Nearly 100,000 people a day were viewing the story on The Spokesman-Review site alone in the few days after it was published after Google added the link to its News Spotlight list. Now the story has all over North America and readership is in the millions.
Click here for the follow up story after her appearance with Letterman.
Notes from previous blog posts:
"It’s been crazy," said Bolster from her home in Whitefish, Mont., noting that she’s been interviewed by numerous publications, TV and radio since the S-R story went wild.
She’s also received marriage proposals, job offers and made a lot of new Facebook friends.
She’s set up an account for the many people who’ve offered to chip in for Tonk’s winter boarding, since there’s no bigger hero in this story than the burly white Percheron mix. I've attached it to my Sunday story.
At first, she said she was going out and giving Tonk a carrot every time something new and good came back as more people read the story.
But at the rate it's been going, Tonk was goingto get fat and the pasture was going to be full of orange muffins if she didn't scale back.