Equestrian Claire Allison collects awards

Published 6:00 am Monday, April 20, 2009

Years ago my family raised horses, so I know firsthand of their beauty, intelligence and independent nature.

My own experience includes riding bareback with my brother, beginning as a toddler. During my teens one headstrong horse threw me from her back, not too gently, leaving me skittish. However, I admire those who ride well … people like Claire Allison.

Allison will be the first to tell you equestrian accidents do happen. She’s had her share, but is still passionate about horses, especially those that jump.

The morning I arrived at Allison’s Clairmont Stables was a typical spring in Alabama –– dogwoods blooming, trees splashed with green. I drove down Old Deer Creek Road off Highway 43 in Sterrett to Allison’s Clairmont, expecting another Southern farmstead, but arrived in a quaint setting like European countryside.

A horse named Agreeable greeted me first, with head out a stable window fit for a king. Former Auburn University Equestrian Allison waved me in.

Allison said her mom’s passion for horses motivates her.

“But she didn’t show them or make it a career, as I’ve done,” Allison said. “I first started riding at age three. Also, there’s a horse named Piggy that inspired me.”

She smiled. Now, love of a special horse would surely spark interest.

Allison began winning awards in the 1990s in college, and is still going strong. Last weekend she took eight Championship Awards from The United States Equestrian Federation.

Allison’s horse skills and training are unique: Hunter Jumper horses are more often seen in Kentucky bluegrass country or in Europe. Actually, Hunter Jumper horse training began centuries ago across the Atlantic, for the purpose of fox hunting.

On April 26, Clairmont is hosting a show with 40–60 horses. They’ll be displaying walk-trots and jumps. The event is free and the public is welcome.

Clairmont also hosts a Summer Horse Camp designed for kids to have fun while learning horsemanship and riding skills. Services of Clairmont include boarding, training, sales and showing. The stables are high tech, with every gadget available for a horse’s comfort. Also included are pastures, paddocks and riding arena. For more details, see www.clairmonthunters.com or call 672-3174.