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.

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