Statue of Blackie, Tiburon's famous swaybacked horse.
Statue of Blackie, Tiburon's famous swaybacked horse.

Blackie, Horse That Never Moved

Field review by the editors.

Tiburon, California

The world is populated by creatures of habit. For Blackie the swaybacked horse, it was a daily ritual -- to stand in the same spot in a pasture -- for 28 years. For the people of the Tiburon peninsula, it was an expectation that Blackie would be in his spot each day. Though Blackie died in 1966, memory's zoetrope of the stationary horse persisted. Some locals recalled seeing Blackie still there over the next 30 years -- as if he'd never left. But it wasn't until 1995 when a statue of the Horse That Never Moved was erected on the site, near his grave.

Blackie's memorial plaque and grave.
Blackie's memorial plaque and grave.

Blackie was born in Kansas around 1926 or '27, and transported to California. Blackie served in in the U.S. Army cavalry patrol in Yosemite National Park, stabled in the winter at the Presidio in San Francisco. He became a "cutting" horse on the local rodeo circuit and in Salinas, with skills at guiding cattle. His chief "skill" might have been to stand in one spot.

In 1938, by the age of 12, Blackie retired and was put out to pasture in Trestle Glen by his new owner, Tiburon houseboat-dweller Anthony Connell. Blackie lived another 28 years, developing his signature "swayback" (a bent-back condition called equine lordosis). The funny looking, gentle horse was loved by children, who climbed aboard and fed him carrots. Blackie had become the town's unofficial ambassador, their living landmark, visible from trains passing on a nearby trestle.

In 1965, the trestles were removed, and developers planned to build a mall, rerouting a road right through Blackie's spot. Citizens rose up in protest, and the city council plans were modified. A portion of the pasture was left unmolested. Blackie reportedly attended the ribbon-cutting ceremony, but in true Horse-That-Never-Moves style, he wouldn't cut the ribbon. He never moved.

Blackie, Swayback Horse.

As it turned out, the extremely old horse would only soldier on for a few more months. On February 27, 1966, Blackie dropped in his spot and couldn't get back up. He was humanely euthanized by a vet. Blackie fans again rallied to persuade the county health department for a one-time burial exception, allowing him to be planted where he expired. He was interred, marked by a cross and plaque monument, surrounded by a white picket fence.

Almost thirty years later, a donation from the family of the town's first mayor to the Tiburon Peninsula Foundation bankrolled a life-sized statue. An apt tribute, the bronze swaybacked horse was created by sculptor Albert Guibara in 1995, and permanently positioned in 1995. A children's book was written about him in 2006 -- "Blackie - The Horse Who Stood Still" by Christopher Cerf and Paige Peterson.

Visitors walk across what is now named Blackie's Pasture to the grave and statue. Some area residents still hallucinate that Blackie's immobile reign lasted 80+ years. There are also whispers of a white swaybacked horse girlfriend that was in the pasture. Apparently she moved around too much to merit enduring attention.

Blackie, Horse That Never Moved

Address:
458 Greenwood Beach Rd, Tiburon, CA
Directions:
Tiburon Blvd. and Greenwood Beach Rd, there's a parking lot for the park.
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April 5, 2020

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