Eleanor Parke Custis Lewis, called ‘Nelly’ for short, was the granddaughter of Martha Washington and step-granddaughter of President George Washington. By 1781, both of Nelly’s parents were dead and she and her brother, George Washington Parke Custis, were brought to Mount Vernon and raised by the Washingtons.
Nelly liked living at Mount Vernon. In a letter to a friend she said: “I have learned to ride on horseback and am very delighted with it, believe me….I forgot to tell you the name of my nag, it is Rozinante.”
Rozinante received little mention, making her a difficult horse to chronicle. It is likely she was used primarily for Nelly, as most of the other horses in the Washingtons’ stable were large, battle-hardened or hunting stallions and would have been considered “too much horse” for her.