Hank the horse was greeted with warmth, friendship in Doylestown

DOYLESTOWN, PA — Hank the Horse traveled to the Big Apple today to ring the bell for the Salvation Army’s Greater New York Division as a kickoff to Giving Tuesday.

It was a special moment for Hank and his owner, Tammi Regan, a third-generation bell ringer with the organization known for its black kettles and bell-ringing volunteers.

“I trained my horse to do what’s in our family,” she said of Hank holding the bell in his mouth and then ringing it by nodding his head up and down.

Tammi also provided a sizable donation from the people of Kentucky, where she operates a nonprofit organization, “For Hank’s Sake,” that rescues neglected and abandoned horses.

“Hank raised $25,000 for the Salvation Army. He has quite a career. It became iconic with the Red Kettle campaign in Kentucky. It feels good and it’s so much fun,” she said.

On their way from Kentucky to Manhattan, Hank and Tammi stopped in Doylestown Monday afternoon to greet their friends and adoring fans. What they found was a lot of love, enthusiasm and support.

Bucks County is where it all began for Hank and Tammi, who formed a very special bond in those early years that led to the founding of “For Hank’s Sake.”

“I feel like we’ve come full circle and that feels really good. It was such a great reception from the community and everyone really embraced Hank. It was very heartwarming,” she said.

When Hank arrived in Doylestown, the first thing on his “to do” list was to check out the new city hall, which opened earlier this year. Inside the building he visited council chambers and was even reported to have made a payment for an outstanding water bill, but that story was

Hank spent most of the afternoon greeting visitors and posing for photos in the neighborhood’s new park, located across the street from district hall.

Among those who came to welcome Hank and Tammi back to town was Jim Salanik, who remembers Hank’s earlier, more tumultuous years in Bucks County. He was Tammi’s next door neighbor back in those days.

“I remember him coming home one day and saying I think I’m going to adopt a horse from Kentucky,” he said. “They brought him here. He was very green and not used to commands and she was just learning about horses. It was a learning curve for both of us.”

Prior to Hank, Regan owned and operated Polished Look Spa And Gift Boutique on State Street in downtown Doylestown for 15 years. She has also done consulting work in the day spa industry across the country.

Then she met Hank, who won her heart and inspired her nonprofit.

Regan saw another side of Hank. While others thought he was a bad horse, she thought he was funny.

“I told people I was going to teach Hank to ring the bell. Hank will help children and people. I said, “Oh, he’ll never be more than an arena horse.” He was considered a dangerous horse,” Regan said. “Now look at him. A few weeks ago we had him at the University of Kentucky, and Hank was walking the halls of Taylor Hall.”

In 2018, Regan moved to Kentucky with Hank and a herd of rescues and built a name for her foundation in the state known for its love of horses and the Running of the Roses. Hank has become somewhat of a celebrity in the Bluegrass State, where he can often be found ringing the Salvation Army bell, checking out books at the library, and visiting schools and universities.

Hank’s training was based on his personality, his fun and intelligence, not in spite of it, she said. “We call him our 1,400-pound baby.”

“I give him all the credit. I would have given up years ago,” said Salanik of Regan. “Back then, they were both learning. She was learning about horses and he was learning how to behave, listen to instructions and learn things. They went to a lot of schools and classes and maybe got kicked out of one or two.

“He’s earned it,” Salanik continued. “He became Mr. Perfect.”

Sitting nearby, Hank, a Tennessee walking horse, got as much petting and love as he could muster. And he did it in a kingly way.

“Hank (a rescue horse) teaches us that no matter how bad things get, as long as you have love and humility in your heart, you can recover from anything,” Regan said.

Hank the Horse has become the foundation’s brand ambassador, a symbol of hope and a beacon of light for all animals suffering from neglect. The little white heart-shaped fur under the screw inspired the For Hank’s Sake logo.

“Hank makes people stronger, better and teaches us to love more deeply,” Regan said.

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