Memorial Day at Old Friends is always bittersweet. It’s hard to say goodbye to the horses who have passed during the year, but it’s comforting share memories with others who loved them. In some ways, every day caring for retired horses is about taking the bitter with the sweet. wishing nobody had the aches and pains of old age. Remembering them as young athletes or vigorous middle aged stallions and wishing he had good tendons again, or she could run carefree as the wind, or he could still see with both eyes, yet enjoying each of their pleasures in the secure retirement they so much deserve, and being thankful for whatever part you play—and so many people contribute in some many ways—to keep them secure and happy.
So, you wake up, steel yourself for what you know will be a hard yet comforting day, only to learn it will be harder than you dreamed. Early this morning Clever Allemont, our 32 year old hero and survivor, had to be euthanized. Had he been younger and less frail, surgery would have been an option, but because of Clever’s extreme age, along with the increased chance old age brings of fatal complications, attempting major surgery would not have been kind. All Michael and our team of vets could do was return some of the kindness to Clever Allemont that he gave us so generously for years.
Five and a half years, to be precise. Borrowed time, some would say. A triumph of love over greed, I call Clever’s journey from a kill buyer’s pen waiting for a slaughter auction, to a new life—half a decade, as it turned out—as one of Old Friends’ most loved residents, a gracious host, kind friend and inspiration to us all. Old and fit only to be thrown away at 26? Hardly!
If you follow this blog or OF’s Facebook page, you probably already know Clever’s extraordinary story. Here it is, with photos of him.
And a brief video of Clever by Wendy Wooley of Equisport Photos.
And a vid I uploaded of him because I was so impressed that though he was one of our oldest horses (at 32, he lived to be our oldest to date), when he got down to roll, he was one of the few on the farm who could roll all the way over.
We’ll miss you, brave, gentle Clever, and remembering you will continue to inspire us. As Dr. Val Nicholson so beautifully put it, “Clever couldn’t hear, but he could listen. He and the other horses remind us that it’s the minutes and moments that count. The minutes and moments determine eternity.”
So, sadder than anyone anticipated, a good showing gathered to pay respects and share memories. Racing writer Bill Mooney, OF’s official eulogist, recalled the achievements of those who’d passed during the last twelve months, then people who felt inspired to, recounted stories, or shared what a particular horse had meant to them.
Though Bucky Sallee has retired as Keeneland’s bugler, we were lucky to hear his famous “Boots and Saddles” and the “Taps” Bucky played to honor the unforgettable Klassy Briefcase, Patton, Sunshine Forever, Dancin’ Renee, Miss Docutech, The Name’s Jimmy, Bull Inthe Heather, and Clever Allemont.