Remembering Tink

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By Ashley Fant

We were peers. He was cranky about the girth. I trusted him unconditionally. My friend and partner in teaching was a gorgeous dun gelding just five years my junior. I marveled at his excellent conformation and his accurately dubbed “golden mane of beauty.” His communication skills were outstanding and his work ethic always positive. My friend Tink taught us all so much.

Not long ago, Tink and one of his regular riders were walking around the ring waiting for their lesson to begin. In an awkward move his rider became unseated, dangling somewhere between the saddle and the bridle, on the side of Tink’s neck. I heard the rider say something like “uh oh” and I looked to the far end of the ring. Tink and I immediately locked eyes and he delivered the imperiled rider across the ring to me. The rider righted himself and was quickly on his way. In a moment that would have inspired many horses to spook, or exploit their rider’s vulnerability, Tink remained committed to his job. Our goals were aligned and he knew to find me for help. He knew that he was not in trouble, but his rider was. He knew that I was his ally. Our trust and respect was mutual. He was my friend and I miss him.

Tink was officially named Vanity’s Mighty Tink, aka “Tink.”  He was foaled on March 21, 1984 and passed away on December 25, 2020 – over 36 years old!

He was in my life and my barn for the last 12 years of his life. It is so hard to believe that he was 25 when we first met!
He was a Quarter Horse gelding born in South Dakota. As a foal he became sick with pneumonia, but recovered strong and maintained a lifelong dislike of shots and paste.

Amanda Helton-Clark met him as a two-year old and she knew he was special from the start. After demonstrating her commitment and work ethic, her parents purchased Tink for her when he was five. They were a perfect match and enjoyed barrel racing at lightning-fast speed. Amanda and Tink moved several times over the next 20 years, with Tink present for every leg of her journey to adulthood.

Tink was retired in Oakland, Tennessee at the barn where I first started my business. I inquired about him, as I thought he would make a good lesson horse. Tink had never been a jumping horse, but was a natural. He loved his new chapter in life teaching beginner riders.

He loved being groomed, was a feisty shark when it came to tacking up, and never placed a foot wrong the moment his rider was mounted. He went to schooling shows and loved the fanfare.

Teaching with him was an absolute joy and he had the best trot and canter. He would follow me around the ring and make even the most timid rider feel like a superhero. He always took care of his kids. In his personal life, my grey mare Katy was his world. The two were inseparable.

Tink taught his last lesson on December 23, 2020. He was sound and healthy and had experienced no decline in his quality of life. In those 12 years he never had a vet call! He passed away suddenly on his own with Katy by his side. Even in death he was absolutely perfect.

I miss him every day as I remind myself how lucky we all were to have him for so long. But that doesn’t make accepting his loss any easier; I still feel his presence all around the farm.

Tink, you are forever loved and missed. My endless thanks to Caryn, Chilo, Chino, Chencho and Toño for the amazing daily care they provided for him over the past years.

-Ashley Fant

Owner and Head Trainer at Ashley Fant Show Stables

Editor’s Note: Tommy and I have the privilege of knowing three of these “once in a lifetime” extraordinary horses: Buccaneer, Bay Fox, and Shasta. They have forever enriched our lives.

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