Rescued Horse, Max
To keep the spirit alive as it was in Elvis’ time, there will always be horses at Graceland.
Max arrived at the estate Jan. 10 — two days after what would have been Elvis Presley’s 73rd birthday.
He will never be able to thank Priscilla Presley for adopting him and giving him a new home. She also adopted his brother, Merlin, who will arrive at Graceland in the spring.
Max will never be able to thank Carol-Terese Naser of Palermo, Maine for saving his life.
Then again, Max is a 3-year-old bay horse.
It all began like this:
Max and his brother, Merlin, a magnificent chocolate-colored creature, were scheduled to be slaughtered — along with four other horses in their family in Quebec — last summer.
Naser, who has had horses of her own since she was a child, stepped into action and rescued all six horses with just days to spare.
“If we hadn’t done this when we did, they’d all be long gone,” said Naser.
Naser and her friend Cathy Cleaveland found out soon enough that it wasn’t easy — or cheap — to care for six horses. So they decided to start fundraising.
“We sent T-shirts to celebrities we knew were passionate about animals,” Cleaveland said. “We requested they autograph the shirt, then send it back. We were going to auction them.”
Country crooner Alan Jackson, former Catwoman Julie Newmar and “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” host Ty Pennington, among others, signed and sent back the shirts for auction, Naser said.
And then came a phone call from Priscilla Presley that would change Max’s and Merlin’s lives.
An animal lover, Presley told the women she wanted to adopt Max and Merlin to give them a permanent home at Graceland, the nearly 14-acre spread, 23-room mansion in Memphis that Elvis shared with Priscilla and their daughter.
“I have always had a bond with horses,” Presley said in a telephone interview. “Elvis gave me my very first horse. It was the horses that made Graceland home to us.”
Presley, who called herself “the kid who had to rescue all the animals” growing up, said that when she received the T-shirt from Naser and Cleaveland, the story of the near-slaughter struck her.
“It haunted me,” Presley said. “I couldn’t sleep because I couldn’t imagine anyone wanting to do that.”
Presley, who called Naser’s saving act “an unbelievable labor of love,” said it is her desire to educate people about horse slaughter, including spreading the word to permanently ban the practice.
“Max and Merlin are a symbol of horses who escaped the slaughter,” she said.
They will live out their lives at Graceland for all to know the value of horses in our lives.
Elvis Presley bought his first horses in 1966. The first horses to come to Graceland were Christmas gifts for Priscilla and some of Elvis’ friends. They were Tennessee Walkers.
Elvis soon bought more horses – and then trucks and trailers – for his friends and bodyguards.
Priscilla remembers playfully, “It didn’t matter if you wanted one or not, you were getting a horse!”
The stable at Graceland was called “House of the Rising Sun” after Elvis’ own horse, a Quarter horse.
Elvis on Rising Sun
Ebony’s Double ~ Tenneessee Walker
Priscilla Presley’s Horse
Elvis sought solace in his land and his horses. Priscilla recalls, “In the morning right after breakfast he was out riding.”
The year 2007 marked the 30th anniversary of Elvis Presley’s death. The sound of hoofbeats has never faded from his home.
Graceland now includes the beauty of two rescued horses.