It’s been thirty years since we lost him (I don’t think my boyfriend is over it yet) and the Presley mystique still endures. All this week we’ve been inundated with tributes, trivia and retrospectives, but you can rely on Bridlepath to bring you the really important stuff: Elvis and his horses.
He was fond of Tennessee Walkers (naturally!) and kept them in a field behind Graceland until he finally had to buy the Circle G ranch to house them all. One of his favourite horses was a palomino named Rising Sun; the barn at Graceland was given the tongue-in-cheek name “House of the Rising Sun” in his honour.
Not all of the King’s horses were TWHs, however. Mare Ingram, a bay grade horse, was given that name as a tribute to Memphis’ Mayor Ingram, who had a long stretch of Highway 51 South, which runs in front of Graceland, renamed Elvis Presley Blvd. As well, Lisa Marie had a Shetland pony named Moriah.
In a June 1999 article for EQUUS magazine, Christine Barakat wrote of Elvis’ horsemanship.
“In the ‘Sincerely Elvis’ museum, I was captivated by an old home movie of Elvis riding in a paddock at Graceland. In fact, I watched the film many times. It was clear that Elvis wasn’t just a “movie star cowboy” – he was actually a very good rider, with kind hands, a secure seat and good sense of balance. The museum also displayed the singer’s well-used saddles, bridles and muddy boots: It was obvious Elvis loved and enjoyed his horses as much as I do my own.”
“When Elvis learned to ride, he was told he had to cool out his horse carefully by walking him,” Alene says. “So he’d ride for 15 minutes and then walk the horse three times as long. Everyone teased him about that, but he wanted to be sure the horse was properly cooled.” (Link)
The last horse Elvis brought to Graceland, Ebony’s Double by Ebony Masterpiece, died there in 2005 at the venerable age of 32. There are still horses there, however: Sun’s Reflection (a relative of Rising Sun) and Ebony’s Secret Threat. (If you’ve visited Graceland and have pix of the horses and barn, Bridlepath would love to hear from you!) Apparently the Graceland Challenge Trophy is awarded at the TWH Celebration each year to the winner of the Junior Walking Horse Championship Stake as a tribute to the King and the horses he loved. Anyone know if that’s still so? I couldn’t find much about it online.
Finally, there are no horses in this video, but I thought we could all do with a reminder of what made the man so awesome. Forget the spangles and the peanut butter and the Scientology-addled descendants. Herewith, my beloved’s favourite singer performing my beloved’s favourite song.