TOPEKA, Kan. — Through his one good eye, Clever Allemont sees life. The aging thoroughbred stallion used to charge hard for the finish line and often crossed first in the 1980s. He ran at the respected Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs, Ark., carrying vaunted jockey Pat Day to victory in 1985. He was trained by hall-of-famer Wayne Lukas and trod the hallowed track at Churchill Downs. How things changed when just weeks ago he stared at another finish line — the ultimate one. Standing in a kill lot in Lyon County with one eye clouded by blindness, he was scheduled for slaughter in another country. Then, a lucky draw, and he was saved. It almost didn’t happen. Horse rescuer Kristin Chambers received a call about two weeks ago from a kill buyer. He had a "horse too pretty to ship.” When Chambers arrived in Emporia on Dec. 12 she found the mare in question, then the KB pointed over her shoulder. "Do you think you can do anything about him?” he asked. That is when she discovered Clever, a tall, dark brown 26-year-old bay horse. He stood thin, shivering in the whipping wind behind a shoddy fence. His head, dotted with a blotch of white, hung low. "He could sense it wasn’t a good place to be,” Chambers said. She called for him, and he slowly walked to her. In her three years of saving horses, Chambers never cried while in the middle of a rescue.Comments
Freedom and comfortClever came nearer and Chambers saw his blind right eye. She "loved on him” and wept for the great stallion who had fallen so far. His former owner, a man in his 70s who was readying to move, had sold Clever to the buyer. Within days, Clever was scheduled to be killed overseas. Chambers got home, posted his story online at 6:22 p.m. and by 6:50 p.m., a forum writer volunteered to pay Clever’s bail. He would be freed. The "series of miracles,” as Chambers called them, were just beginning. She contacted fellow horse-lover Jeanne Mason in Williamsburg, located an hour south of Topeka. Upon hearing the story, Mason instantly replied. She would house Clever at her Donegal Ranch until a new home could be found. Meanwhile, Internet chatter swelled of the former prizewinner who stepped to the brink of death. People donated blankets and food. The next day, Dec. 13, as Mason was unloading Clever at her ranch, Chambers ran out of Mason’s house, yelling, "He’s going to Kentucky!” Another miracle. Word had spread to a worker at Old Friends, the posh equine retirement home in Georgetown, Ky. Flying Pigeon, a 27-year-old thoroughbred, had just died at the horse resort. Clever could fill the spot. At Old Friends, Clever could roam free, eat the finest meals and sleep in the comfiest stalls. "He was a superstar,” Chambers said. She said Clever brought out the goodness in people across America. "When you’ve had a good run and your payment is a trip to slaughter ...” she said before trailing off. Neither Chambers nor Clever have to think of that now.