Tonka’s Family

By Terry Golson

Steve gave me the most thoughtful Chanukah gift. He tracked down Tonka’s family.

I purchased Tonka in December of 2013 from Amy, a horsewoman in Maine. For a couple of years Amy lived in Texas, and while there she saw Tonka, and knew that he was the one for her.

He was 4-years old when they met.

Even back then, he had a kind eye.

Amy returned to Maine and brought Tonka with her. When her work demands meant that she didn’t have time for him, Amy sold him to me. At that point, Tonka was almost 8-years old.

This is my first time on Tonka, when I’m trying him at Amy’s. We’re in wild blueberry country, (that’s what those reddish scrubby-looking plants are.) It isn’t exactly Texas, but it is wide-open spaces.

Amy had Tonka’s papers from the American Paint Horse Association, but that’s all she knew. Steve found out more and got photos!

I’m convinced that a big factor in why Tonka is so able to handle stress is because of his early upbringing. His mamma was “pasture bred.” That means the stallion was kept with his herd of mares. That means that his dam was social and active while pregnant.

Tonka lived on his home ranch until Amy found him. He was in a herd, and doing what one has to do – problem solving, interacting with others, and navigating over varied terrain. He was with family. He learned how to be a horse. I’m sure that his Aunties kept him in line! In those early years, Tonka was handled by humans, but not a lot.

Foals that are “imprinted on” by people, restricted in movement until they give in, and then are weaned early, are severely stressed animals. Luckily for Tonka (and me!) he got to grow up with his horse family in Texas.

Steve tracked down one of the owners of the ranch where Tonka was born. Not only did they own his mamma, but they also owned his sire. It’s a copy of a copy, but here’s his photo. This is Lastchanceinvestment. In his day, he was a champion roping horse.


This is Tonka’s dam, BD Moon King Bea. (She’s the one on the right.)


And here is Tonka’s full sister, Valentine. She’s still on the ranch. Look at that family resemblance!

Tonka has had quite the journey, all the way from a ranch outside of Austin, to a farm in Massachusetts. Who could have imagined that a little horse with roping background would be gussied up in dressage gear and rhinestone studded bell boots?

Tonka, as always, takes it all in stride.

19 thoughts on “Tonka’s Family

  • Tracy

    Well done, Steve! You’re right, that is an incredibly thoughtful gift. I had no idea that Tonka’s black bits were once a lovely dark oxblood brown color. I loved all of the pictures, but found the one of Tonka’s sister Valentine to be especially charming. I’ve never seen markings similar to her of her jet black coronet bands below four white socks. She looks like she’s wearing spats. And then to see Tonka’s rhinestone bell boots — almost a reverse mirror image to his sister’s flashy feeties. And all relatives seem to have Tonka’s kind eye.

    • Terry Golson Post author

      That mahogany color is what happens to his black coat in the sun. What’s really pretty is when it gets dapples.
      I wish that Tonka had more black on his legs like his sister! Or at least black hocks… they get so stained in the winter.

  • Jan

    How wonderful and interesting to learn Tonka’s family history. Brilliant present, well done Steve. Lovely to see his Sister is still on the ranch, are his Sire and Dam still alive and living on the ranch or have they moved on ?? Have a great New Year and all the best for a Healthy and Peaceful 2018. 🙂

  • Kim

    That is super cool Terry! I was also able to track down my horses origins through his registered name as a Tennesee Walking Horse. I wrote to his former owners/ breeder to let them know that he had found a good home in Maine. He was born and bred in Deer Lodge Tennessee, and he sired three babies before he was gelded at 8 years old. His picture and two of his babies are still on their web page. I must admit that I’m tempted to try and track down those offspring since he is such a great horse. Maybe someday.

  • Shelley Griffin

    That is a great story, how lucky u r to be able to trace his parents & sister, & have pictures to boot. I would want to bring his Sis East too!

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