In less than a year, a young horse named Bandit has gone from a life of abuse on a Fayette County farm to new digs fit for a king. The King of Rock-and-Roll, to be specific.
Fayette County Animal Rescue (FCAR) seized the 10-month-old colt, and 16 other horses, after the group discovered the animals starving to death on George Blackburn's farm last spring. After months in foster care, Bandit was adopted by Priscilla Presley and transported to Graceland where he will live with three other horses.
"Since our horse Candy is 17 years old and Sun's Reflection is 27 years old, we needed some new energy around here," Presley said at a press conference held at Graceland during Elvis' birthday ceremony last week.
Last year, Presley adopted Max, a 3-year-old horse rescued from a farm in Maine where he was forced to eat tree bark to survive. Presley hopes the youthful Bandit will be a good companion for Max.
Presley contacted FCAR about adopting a colt several months ago, but the process wasn't completed until December.
"We had to go through a long application process and inspect the facilities," said FCAR director Gina Thweatt. "And since it was a deal with Elvis Presley Enterprises, they had people look over the contract, as well."
Thweatt said Bandit was shy when he was rescued from the Blackburn farm, but unlike the other rescued horses, he wasn't emaciated.
"Bandit was just extremely scared of people. Horses are like puppies. You've got to start getting hands on the animal right away to allow them to get used to people," Thweatt said. "Bandit obviously hadn't been handled by people, but we had volunteers work with him."
Shortly after the seizure, Betty Blackburn, George's 77-year-old mother, stole 12 of the 17 horses seized from Blackburn's farm.
She was driving the horses to Paris, Texas, when she was stopped by police in Texarkana, Arkansas. She and a male friend were arrested, and the horses were put into foster care through an Arkansas animal rescue group.
The six remaining horses on the Fayette County property were placed in foster homes shortly after that incident. Tweatt said all but two of those horses, both pregnant females, have since been placed into permanent homes.
"We're thrilled to death about Bandit's new home," Thweatt said. "If you look at the place where he began his life, you'd know it would be an awful life for any horse. But now this sweet little baby is going to the best place a horse can go."