Girls Horse Club Blog

A Horse To Remember

Published by • Nov 2nd, 2011 • Category: Tributes

by barrelracer37, age 15

I can still vividly remember that clear, cold day in February when I met him… I was instantly hooked on that beautiful, black two-year-old horse with the only white on him being the rain drop in between his nostrils. While the rest of the horses stood huddling together near the fence, barely giving us a glance, he eagerly strode right up to me. Anyone could tell almost immediately that Elvis wasn’t at all like the others; he stood out distinctly and definitely in a blurred crowd. My first thoughts were of how gorgeous he was, and then that he was one of the sweetest and friendliest horses I had met. He begged for rubbing and attention, and followed me around like a puppy until I gave in. I didn’t know much about him then, but I remember wishing later that day that he were mine.

After that day I began taking lessons at that barn where he was stabled. I wasn’t very experienced, especially not experienced enough to ride a two-year-old, but I was determined that I would get good enough so I could ride him. I started on a sixteen-year-old quarter horse named Mustache. I worked hard with my neighborhood dog walking jobs so I could earn money to pay for lessons each week. I loved riding and I was motivated to be the best rider I could be… but I also had another reason: Black Velvet Elvis. I dreamed of riding him. His owner had told me that riding him was like floating on a cloud. So I rode and rode, improving my riding skills with every lesson; but, still, the trainer didn’t say anything about me moving up to another horse. I was still on the older, laid-back Mustache. Everyone started on Mustache, and then moved up when Julie (the trainer, instructor, and manager) decided they were ready. I was pretty shy and I never asked to ride him, but I figured she would tell me when I was ready. After all, she did know how much I loved him. How could she not know? I brushed him after every single lesson, I went out to see him first thing when I arrived at the barn, and I had talked about wanting to own him for myself for months.

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Before I knew it summer had rolled around. I enjoyed going up to the barn and staying all day, grooming several of the horses and riding Mustache. But most of all I enjoyed spending hours with Elvis. I would brush him until he shone. I combed his mane and tail until they were like silk, and I would talk to him like he really understood.

Right before my freshman year in high school, about half a year since I had started riding Mustache, the ranch had “open barn days” — two days in which guests could come to the ranch and look at all the horses for sale and get a taste of what Eclipse Ranch was all about. They had a barbeque, a bouncy house, and lots of decorations; it was going to be a big event.

Julie had me clip Elvis’ bridle path and trim the whiskers around his mouth and eyes and get him looking good because he was for sale. All the horses for sale, along with him, were to be placed out in smaller pens in the arena so people could look at them. I almost didn’t want to do a good job readying him… I felt like I didn’t want to make him as beautiful as he was because it wouldn’t be hard for another girl to fall in love with him like I did.

I had been saving practically every cent I earned for months; I now had $1,100 in my savings account. Elvis was $1,500. Just a little bit more walking dogs and pet sitting and I would have him… But if he got sold at this open barn I would be through. It’s hard to describe how I was feeling that day; I was extremely worried about Elvis, but so excited that I got to spend two whole days with horses, the most beautiful and understanding creatures in the world.

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Besides some other kids that took lessons at Eclipse Ranch and their families, only a few people came to the event. By Saturday afternoon I knew that Julie must have been extremely disappointed after all the money and hard work she put into this weekend. But, as for me, things couldn’t have been going better. Of course, I was glad there weren’t very many people to take interest in Elvis. He was the kind of horse that was almost awkward looking; He was barely three and not very filled out yet. Don’t get me wrong, he was still drop-dead-gorgeous (maybe I was just a little biased), but his inner-beauty and character were what I loved most about him. Anyways, since the grounds were virtually empty, Julie let me, along with a couple of other kids that rode there, ride several of the different horses. I finally got to try something different then Mustache. The best part of it all was that, as I rode a sorrel quarter horse named Sandy, Julie was training Elvis in the arena at the same time. While I was riding around the arena, she rode up to me and asked, “How would you like to ride Elvis?”

It was all I could do to keep from screaming with joy. With a colossal smile on my face, I tried to keep my voice sounding normal as I said, “Sure.” Although, on the inside I was screaming, “Yes! Oh my gosh, yes! I’ve been waiting for this moment my entire life!”

“Let’s start you in the round pen.” Julie slid down off of Elvis and led him out of the arena.

After handing off my horse to another kid anxious to ride, I excitedly followed Julie and Elvis out of the dirt arena and into the round pen. Julie handed me the reins and climbed on the fence to watch. “Just start with a walk in both directions,” she told me.

I mounted, feeling the happiness and excitement surge through my body as I settled in the saddle and patted Elvis on the neck. After working so long to ride him, I was there. I was sitting on Elvis’ back. I nudged him into a walk and was instantly surprised at his quick reaction and eagerness to please. Elvis really was a dream to ride. Even at a walk, I felt his power and it just felt magical. He was as light as a feather, and it just felt… right. I knew we were meant to be together. Julie must have thought we were doing okay, because before I knew it, she told me to go ahead and trot. Elvis’ trot was so much different than anything I was used to. It was quick and swift; I could hardly keep up my posting on his trot.

“You can lope if you feel comfortable,” Julie called.

Comfortable? This was Elvis we were talking about. Finally — the moment I had been waiting for! A small nudge with my feet and a kissing sound with my mouth, and we were into that beautiful, smooth, rocking-chair lope, like nothing else I can describe. And that is a moment I will never forget, as long as I live.

When I finally slowed him down, my friend Katie called from the other side of the fence, where I didn’t even know she’d been standing, “Kari, you’re absolutely glowing!” she grinned. I hadn’t even realized that a huge grin had been splitting my face during the entire ride. Soon Julie allowed me to ride him in the arena. It was so incredible; it was the best ride of my life.

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I rode him three times after that day. Each time he took my breath away just like the first. I wanted to buy him even more than before, and I was so close to being able to afford him. I was happier than I had ever before, and confident that it would all work out. I was so close.

That’s when tragedy struck. I went out one day to ride Mustache (I wasn’t allowed to ride Elvis when Julie wasn’t at the ranch) and after I cleaned Mustache’s stall I was on my way to see Elvis. My mom called my cell right about then, saying that she just received an email from Julie: Elvis was sold. At first I didn’t believe it, there was no way he could be sold. He was meant for me! I couldn’t, and wouldn’t believe it. There had to be some mistake. I looked out in the pasture, and for that moment the hope surged. There was Elvis, galloping up to me, just like the always did.

“But, mom, he’s right here.” I let out a sigh of relief, thankful that my mom had the wrong information.

“The lady who bought him isn’t coming to get him until next week,” she told me. I mumbled a goodbye and hung up.

Elvis came over and nuzzled me on the shoulder, sensing that something was wrong. How could he know that in a week he would be moving to an alien barn and pasture, to be ridden and cared for by a stranger who would never love and understand him as I did? I buried my face in his silky mane and let my tears fall freely. I would never ride him again. He would never, ever be mine. My dream was gone, along with my last traces of hope. After what seemed like eternity, I lifted my head and attempted to wipe the traces of crying away from my face. I was still shocked; I didn’t think that the idea of Elvis being gone would ever really sink in.

I finally left him to go ride Mustache, although my heart wasn’t near in my riding that day. I finally put Mustache away, not being able to focus on what I was doing and just confusing the poor horse. I went back out to see Elvis, although determined not to cry again. I hugged his neck and soaked up his warmth.

By then, my dad had arrived to pick me up, so I regretfully gave him one last hug, pat, and kiss on the nose before leaving him. As I was about to get in the car, I gazed long and hard at him, grazing peacefully in the pasture. I wanted to remember everything about him… forever.

I had this irrational idea that someday I would find him again, and then, no matter what, I would have him. It was hard to hope, but I could still dream. I admit that that idea is still vaguely imprinted in a small corner of my mind. It’s been almost exactly a year since that day, the last time I ever saw him. I still think of him and feel an instant twinge of pain, but I also smile. When I look back at those times now, I know that Elvis and I brought out the best in each other. He is the kind of horse that gave you his all, a horse that you couldn’t help but love, and a horse that should never, ever be forgotten.

3 Nickers »

  1. barrelracer37, Black Velvet Elvis (love the name!) definitely sounds like a horse to remember with ♥ ♥ ♥. I’m sad it didn’t work out for you to buy him after all your hard work and determination, but hope Elvis found a good home. There’s no doubt in my mind that with your compassion and dedication, you’re bound to find another unforgettable horse to call your own. Thanks for sharing your story!

  2. barrelracer37, I totally understand that feeling… I had that happen to me as well, and in my heart, my special girl will always be “mine” even though she belongs to someone else.

  3. Thanks for your comments:) I still miss Elvis a lot, and he will always be in my heart, but it is just one of those things you have to live with…And I am beginning to see that it was all just apart of God’s plan for me..Even if I couldn’t see it at the time.