Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Elvis & Ebony's Double

The last horse that Elvis had brought to Graceland, was Ebony's Double, purchased in 1975 as a two-year-old from the George Lennox farm, home of the legendary Carbon Copy. The story goes that Elvis was taken with the sleek black colt, who, when Elvis first saw him was decked out in red leg wraps in striking contrast to his gleaming jet black coat. 'Elvis was fascinated by Walking Horses', says Alene Alexander, barn supervisor at Graceland. 'He loved to watch them work'. The son of 1962 World Champion Ebony Masterpiece was delivered to Graceland by the Lennox farm without the red leg wraps. Elvis was not certain that this horse was the same he had purchased. 'So he had them put the red leg wraps back on', says Alene. Elvis then knew this was his horse. Ebony's Double was never shown in competition, yet, in 1983, he found himself on the greatest stage of the Walking Horse world. Ebony's Double was invited to be officially retired at the Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration in a ceremony usually reserved for horses earning world championships. The trip to Shelbyville was hard on Ebony's legs and the day of the ceremony he was having difficulty finding his gait.There was a great deal of worry among the contingent, including Elvis' wife, Priscilla, who was in attendance for the special ceremony. Yet, with 40,000 expectant people filling the stands, they knew they could not disappoint. When Ebony's Double entered the arena, with Alene up, 'something magical happened,' she says. 'He smoothed out and showed beautifully'. 

It seems Elvis could not get enough of horses and the pleasure they gave him, especially time he spent riding with friends. 'Elvis bought horses, trucks and trailers for everyone,' says Alene 'At that time, that was the thing to have. He was such a generous man'. 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'.When Elvis died, there were still five horses at Graceland, all of which, with superior veterinary care, lived well into old age and were seen by Graceland tour visitors. They were: Rising Sun, a golden palomino quarter horse and Elvis's personal favorite, which he acquired in 1967; Memphis, a Tennessee Walking Horse Elvis acquired in the 1960s; Mare Ingram, a mixed breed grade mare Elvis acquired in the 1960s and humorously named in dubious honor of the Mayor Bill Ingram of Memphis; Moriah, Lisa Marie Presley's pony; and Ebony's Double. Ebony's Double died on Friday, January 14, 2005. He was 32 years old.