Gutsy wrangler, huge horse save boy from charging grizzly


Wrangler Erin Bolster, a seasoned professional rider, was leading seven others on a one hour horse ride in Wyoming. A 700 lb. grizzly burst out of bushes chasing a deer then charged Scout, a horse ridden by an 8 year old boy on his first horse ride ever. During the chase, the boy fell off Scout.

What happened next was extraordinary. Bolster and her horse Tonk charged the bear three times, finally backing it off.

Did she think twice about that?

“I had no hesitation, honestly,” Bolster said. “Nothing in my body was going to let that little boy get hurt by that bear. That wasn’t an option.”

Tonk was on loan. She said couldn’t let him go after that so she bought him. Horse people tell me super horse Tonk, who is 18 hands high, must have trusted her completely.

“Some of the horses I’ve ridden would have absolutely refused to do what Tonk did; others would have thrown me off in the process.”

Heroes. Both of them.


  1. Here we have another instance of where “size matters” – a 700 lb griz really isn’t all that big, probably an adolescent two, maybe three years old. Tonk, at eighteen hands, probably weighs in at twice that, with a rider close to three times.

    Having been a bear hunter all of my life – yes, in retrospect three of five were really rather humorous, four made it to the barbecue and, of course, one to this day dances – I find most “bear advice” to be dangerously wrong. First and foremost the best place to be is somewhere a bear isn’t going to be. If that’s unavoidable then I recommend a .357 mag on your hip and a high degree of bravado. Twelve years ago up in the Blues I shot a black bear charging my son and I as we were skinning out an elk – my son said it looked like something out of a Louie L’Amour novel… stand up, draw my pistol and somewhere between fifty and seventy five yards put five rounds into him, three in the head. What else could I do? Can’t run, sure as hell can’t leave my son’s first elk to him… shoot him.

    We then, of course, sat down and smoked a really fat dobbie.

    • I’ve had a few inquisitive brown bears lumber up to places we were camping while backpacking.

      But that is way different from “Ursus Horribilus” (the scientific name for the grizzly) or having a black bear charge your kill.

    • PS. Good shooting. And you had no other choice.

      I believe it’s against federal law to shoot grizz although I wonder if that applies in self-defense. I was a bit suprised the wrangler didn’t have a gun.

  2. Supposedly, bear spray is more effective than a gun in most encounters. The key is to spray low and in bursts. At 30-60 feet, spray with a slight side to side motion. At 30 feet or less, aim directly for the bear’s face. Avoid eye contact and back up slowly.

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