The King’s Horses

The King of Rock ‘n’ Roll was a cowboy at heart.

And if home is where the heart is, his heart was at Graceland – especially at Graceland’s barn.

Elvis and his family owned several horses during their years here at Graceland, and there are still horses that live in the stables behind the king’s castle. When Elvis wasn’t working, he loved to spend time riding horses all over the Graceland grounds.

In celebration of the 144th Kentucky Derby next week, let’s meet the horses who call Graceland home.

Fans often spot the horses at Graceland on the grounds, especially on pretty days.

Fans often spot the horses at Graceland on the grounds, especially on pretty days.

It was almost destined for Elvis to own horses.

In 1957, Elvis purchased Graceland, which included the barn behind the mansion itself. The barn, like the house, was built in 1939. Graceland was originally a cattle farm, and the barn actually had air conditioning before the mansion did, to keep the prize bull cool.

When Elvis moved in, he kept a few animals in the barn – he owned a few horses and a donkey. But he became a serious horse owner in 1966. That Christmas, Elvis purchased a Quarter Horse named Domino for Priscilla, his soon-to-be wife. He also purchased a horse named Sheba for Priscilla’s friend Sandy, so the pair could ride their horses together.

One of Elvis' favorite horses was Rising Sun.

One of Elvis’ favorite horses was Rising Sun.

Elvis soon bought a horse that would become his favorite, a golden palomino Quarter Horse named Rising Sun. Of course, the barn had to get a new name, too, and it became House of the Rising Sun.

It wasn’t long before the barn was full of horses. One of Elvis’ favorites was a Tennessee Walking Horse named Bear. He also loved Mare Ingram, a grand mare he named after Memphis Mayor William B. Ingram. He purchased horses for his friends and family, too.

A few of Elvis’ horses include Ebony’s Double, Beauty, Buckshot, Lady, Golden Sun, Star Trek, Sun Down, Thundercloud, Memphis, Flaming Star (doesn’t that name sound familiar?) and Traveler, who had been previously owned by Mary Travers of Peter, Paul and Mary. Elvis’ daughter Lisa also had her own horse, Moriah.

Elvis rode his horses - like Ebony's Double, pictured here - all over the grounds, including down to the wall, where he would greet fans.

Elvis rode his horses – like Ebony’s Double, pictured here – all over the grounds, including down to the wall, where he would greet fans.

The last horse Elvis purchased was a Tennessee Walking Horse named Ebony’s Double. Alene Alexander rode Ebony’s Double in the horses’s retirement ceremony in 1983 at the Tennessee Walking Horse Celebration. Alene started working as a tour guide at Graceland when it opened to the public in 1982, and she still works at Graceland as the stables ambassador. She and her team care for the four horses that live at the barn behind Graceland.

Candy is the oldest of the horses who currently live at Graceland.

Candy is the oldest of the horses who currently live at Graceland.

It’s easy to remember the horses’ names if you think of Elvis’ famous “Taking Care of Business in a Flash” motto: TCB with the lightning bolt. There’s Tucker, Candy, Bandit, and, making up the side-ways lightning bolt, is Max.

The “little old man” of the group is Candy, who, at 25 years old, has a few health issues. Alene and her team work overtime giving Candy the utmost care and attention. His full name is No Candy Just Cash.

All of the golden palominos at Graceland will have "sun" in their names in honor of Rising Sun. So far, Graceland's golden palominos include Rising Sun, Sun's Reflection and Tuscan Sun, or Tucker, pictured here.

All of the golden palominos at Graceland will have “sun” in their names in honor of Rising Sun. So far, Graceland’s golden palominos include Rising Sun, Sun’s Reflection and Tuscan Sun, or Tucker, pictured here.

There will always be a golden palomino at Graceland in honor of Rising Sun, and the palomino who lives at Graceland now is Tucker, or Tuscan Sun (they also all will have “Sun” in their names). Tucker is 20 and, according to Alene, “has an attitude. He thinks he’s prettier than everyone else.” Tucker and Candy are especially close, and Tucker checks in on Candy regularly.

Priscilla Presley has adopted two horses from rescue groups, including this horse, Max.

Priscilla Presley has adopted two horses from rescue groups, including this horse, Max.

Max and Bandit were adopted by Priscilla from horse rescue groups.

Max, 10, is shy. It takes a long time for him to trust someone, Alene says. His full name is Max of Maine.

Bandit was also adopted by Priscilla. He's the youngest horse at Graceland.

Bandit was also adopted by Priscilla. He’s the youngest horse at Graceland.

The baby of the group is Bandit or Blue-Eyed Bandit, so named for his brilliant blue eyes. He’s 8 years old and loves to learn and play. Bandit and Max are pasture mates, and Max always watches out for Bandit.

The horses are definitely the king’s horses – they get the best care and treatment. A day in the life of a Graceland horse starts with breakfast, followed by grooming. The horses spent about six hours a day outside while their stalls are cleaned. Their stalls are cleaned daily, complete with fresh bedding. The horses come in at night for dinner and dessert – a cookie. Candy, who is diabetic, gets a sugar-free cookie.

On special occasions, the horses get to meet the fans. This spring, Max and Bandit met with Boy and Girl Scouts on Scouts Rock at Graceland.

On special occasions, the horses get to meet the fans. This spring, Max and Bandit met with Boy and Girl Scouts on Scouts Rock at Graceland.

The barn still features touches of Elvis: his handwriting can be seen on the walls, where he labeled each horse’s equipment.

Want to see these beauties for yourself? Visit Graceland – the horses are often out in the pasture. Graceland also offers stable tours a few times a year, usually during the Elvis Birthday Celebration in January and Elvis Week in August – weather permitting.


20 Comments

  1. Cynthia Walls

    I can hardly WAIT to visit Graceland,& the horses….Elvis would be HAPPY to know that his Love for his horses is still being honored ❤️

  2. Diane Kelley

    One of my favorite blogs thus far, and they’ve all been great! I’ve taken the stable tour twice, what a special place! And Alene and her staff make it such a special experience!

  3. Larry Gunnin

    Thank you for sharing these pictures and information on the horses of Graceland. I have been to Graceland several times, and would like very much to tour the barn. I have Tennessee Walkers my self and am happy to hear Elvis liked them also. Thanks again.

  4. THE BLACK HORSE ELVIS IS ON IN THE DRIVEWAY IS BEAR, AND NOT EBONY. BEAR HAD A MUCH THINNER NECK THAN EBONY, IT’S HOW YOU CAN TELL THE DIFFERENCE..

  5. Christina Bradt

    I love watching the beautiful horses at Graceland. When I went 3 yrs ago they were out in the pasture. They are truly beautiful horses

  6. Christina Bradt

    I love Graceland, it is probably the most beautiful place I have ever been too

  7. ireneengland

    Glad to see Priscilla has adopted some beautiful horses.Love those that Elvis was on,beautiful animals and gorgeous owner.x

  8. ireneengland

    Glad to see Priscilla has adopted some horses.Does she ride them?.Love the horses Elvis was on and love Elvis forever.xx

  9. I love hearing about the horses of Graceland. Please clarify; is it Bear, or Ebony. A fan is questioning the name of the Black horse Elvis is on.
    Love seeing photos of Elvis on his horses.
    Please share more. Thank you, thank you very much!

  10. Karen White

    What a nice blog. I have toured the barn on many occasions and I must say it has been a wonderful experience. I can tell just how much Alene loves the horses. Everytime I go the barn is so fresh and clean and so are the horses. God Bless Priscilla for allowing us the opportunity to visit, yet another place, that Elvis loved so much.

  11. Patricia Perkins

    I will never forget had the most amazing opportunity to visit Graceland last year 6th May a day that will live in my memory forever such an amazing peaceful!place tomfeel close to Elvis, and to see his beloved horses out in the paddock was wonderful. Could just imagine Elvis riding round the grounds just have been wonderful.

  12. Debbncie LeBla

    Myself and two others will be at Graceland during Elvis week 2016, I so hope we get to visit the horses and tour the stables. My best friend and her daughter are the “two others”, my best friend owned horses off and on most of her life. I know this would be an honor for her to see the House of the Rising Sun. Of course it would be for me also, for I have loved horses all my life, just never owned one, only rode and helped a friend take care of his. We are so excited to be coming to Graceland in August.

  13. Yvonne Hart

    I was thrilled to visit the barns and hear Alene talk about how Elvis loved to groom the horses himself and told us it was a place where he and Priscilla could share some very special time together. I loved that the boots Elvis’ wore were still there and the beautiful saddles but I think Alene said they were replicas of Elvis original ones. The horses were in their stalls they looked so well cared for. It was such a wonderful place. This was my first visit to Graceland I travelled from England with the Great Britain fan club for Elvis 80th birthday celebrations truly a dream come true. Even with all the visitors inside the mansion it felt so peaceful and homely I hope I can visit again some day soon. Thank you to everyone at Graceland for taking such great care of Elvis beautiful home and legacy ❤️

  14. VICKIE MCINTYRE

    Has there ever been any postings as to how much was paid for each horse, Just wondering. They are beautiful!!

  15. Rod Ragazzo

    Which is the best way to contact Alene? Does she have an email address?

  16. Marsha Morrison

    The House With The Beautiful Horses Roaming Out Back Are Just Beautiful. Elvis Would Be Proud. Beautiful Land, Beautiful Horses, Beautiful Day. Great Job Priscilla. And Staff.

  17. Thank you to everyone at Graceland for taking such great care of Elvis beautiful home and legacy

    Goldy with Love

  18. Karen Moller

    The neck part of the bridle on Rising Sun is not behind his left ear … it must have been a wild ride 😀

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