2014 Draft Type gelding
Type of Rescue: Animal Control Surrender
Intake Date: 12/4/21
Adoption Date: 3/31/23
Length of Time with SAFE: 1 year 5 months
ADOPTED!! by Lauren and Bryan
Cramer is a HUGE boy who arrived at SAFE in rough shape. His brands indicate that he was a rodeo bucking horse, but upon his arrival as an eight year old, he was basically unhandled. Cramer was part of a three horse seizure by Snohomish Animal Control, along with three-year old Otto who also came to SAFE and a third horse that went to our friends at Skagit Animals In Need (SAIN). Cramer arrived underweight and infested with lice. Once he regained his health, and we started working with him, we found him to be a smart, sweet, goofy boy who captured the hearts of many volunteers.
Cramer now gets to live the good (retired) life with his new loving family which includes SAFE alumni, Phoenix, Denton (King), and Ruckus, a few cows and a sweet dog. His new family had recently lost one of their horses, also a SAFE alum and were looking to fill the horse shaped hole in their hearts. Lucky for us, they always come to SAFE, hoping to help another horse who needs a home. When Lauren met Cramer, she fell immediately in love. This gentle giant scored big and we are so happy for him and his forever home.
Once upon a time, there was a big bay horse. Before he came to SAFE, he had cut his teeth at the rodeo, used for years as a bucking horse. When his quarter ran out, he was relegated to a practice horse for people to hone their skills, and when his time there was done, he found himself bound for a feedlot.
The antagonist of this horse’s story does not have a name we know, but there are unfortunately legions of the same type of villain – people who perhaps start out with good intentions, or who have never had them to begin with, but who end up with horses they cannot or should not have. The exact details of this part are unimportant; the precise way in which someone neglects the animals they take under their care are for police reports and nightmares, but what is important is the fact that because he was discarded by someone, this big horse came to SAFE.
We called him Cramer. When he stepped off the trailer, despite his hollowed back and his exposed ribs, it still felt as though he shook the ground. Such a big horse – an unknown quantity at that – cannot help but have a certain intimidating quality.
But as his uncertainty melted away, and his knowledge and belly grew, we found ourselves in possession of a true gentle giant. He went from not being able to be haltered, from reacting to fearful stimuli by spinning a quick 180, from needing significant management when being led around the property, to a horse who could teach beginners the basics of groundwork, who melted like butter in the hands of his groomers, who came into a stall at night. This ex-bucking horse was ready for an easy retirement.
Cramer’s happy ending begins with a tragedy – a family had lost a member. All of the horses in this family had come from SAFE, and the loss of one of their own had left a horse-sized hole in their hearts. So one afternoon, the family’s mother, Lauren, came to meet some potential new family members.
With Cramer, it was love at first sight.
And how could it not be? With his soft brown eyes and gentle demeanor, Cramer doesn’t have to beg you to fall in love with him. At this point, he had been with us for over a year, had gone from a slightly wild rodeo king to a docile and well-educated equine citizen. His crown was still there, but worn in a different context. Lauren was enamored, and set plans in motion to give this handsome guy his storybook ending.
Not too long after their first meeting, and following a few other dates, a day came where an empty trailer pulled into SAFE’s parking lot. Cramer had a one-way ticket home with Lauren and Bryan, and the party of two who arrived left as a party of three.
Now, a month later, all continues to go well. Cramer is fitting in with his new herd, which includes alumni Phoenix, Denton (King), and Ruckus, as well as some cows and a very sweet dog. And while Cramer’s story isn’t over, his chapter at SAFE is.
Our ex-Bucking horse is seeking forever home to live out the rest of his days as a companion to those on two legs and four. This former athlete, clocking in at 16.2H, is only 8, which means he has a lot of time left to do retired horse things like play around with his friends and take lots of naps, both things he is very good at. He is a draft cross, which means this is one beefcake of a boy, but don’t let his size intimidate you – you’d be hard pressed to find a sweeter horse than this.
In a herd, he slots in easily, and for such a big guy he does a great job of getting out of the way when his equine superiors ask him to. He is not easily bothered by stereotypically bothersome behaviors his herd mates may engage in (biting in general doesn’t seem to phase him, no matter where the bites are targeted), and is currently playing big brother to Otto, who despite being half his size, pushes Cramer around. He enjoys communal meals from hay nets and tandem drinks from water troughs, and is the first to suggest a group sunbathe.
He is easy to handle on the ground and overall a very gentle guy. With such a big body, there’s a lot of area to groom if that’s your sort of thing (but his bay color lends itself to hiding dirt well, if it’s not). He has been off property, and would make a great hand walking buddy out on the trails. He will tolerate all sorts of silly shenanigans, from kisses on the forehead to slo-mo ‘Baywatch’ runs together. He’s great at hooking on in the round pen, and is a phenomenal companion for groundwork.
Cramer is a sweet, brave, smart, and loving boy. He will make an absolutely spectacular companion for some lucky, lucky souls. But don’t just take my word for it, come meet him today and see for yourself what a special guy this is.
Has there ever been a sweeter horse? Ok, I’m biased. But I think, objectively, that if there were a spectrum of sweetness, he’d definitely fall in the top percentile of the bell curve.
There is just something about him, a gentleness, radiating outward. He has a heart to match the rest of him, big and full.
I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again: he has come such a long way. It’s difficult to remember when he was a wild thing, when we were trepidatious about walking him around the property. Any horse, if they decide they’d like to get away, is more than able to do that, but when faced with such a giant, the stakes do raise a bit more than marginally. But those days of elevated nerves are long gone. Now, he is one of the more gentle horses we have, safe for nearly anyone to handle, regardless of their experience.
At the November Joel clinic, Cramer and I once again partnered up. To say I am proud of him would be a massive understatement. He is soft like a pad of butter on a hot dinner roll, and equally as supple. For the most part, he really respects your space (though he does have a tendency to creep forward if you let him, which most definitely says more about me than it does him), which is nice considering his size. But when you move in, he moves away, really feeling of you. We switched around horses at one point, and it was quite special to see him work with other people and still remain so soft.
In preparation for tying, we worked on coming off of pressure, especially under the chin. He could still use a bit more impulsion, but we are making great progress with backing up under the chin and surging forward. Well, it’s less of a surge currently and more of a peppy walk, but we’ll get there.
Cramer is getting a lot less sensitive to the flag touching him. He still squirrels out a bit when it approaches him suddenly, but very quickly realizes there’s actually nothing to be alarmed about.
It’s been an amazing privilege to watch him grow, and to play a small part in that growth. He has certainly helped me do the same, and then some. I cannot wait for this sweet, big guy to find a forever home with someone who loves him just as much as I do.
A letter to Cramer, following our time spent together at the September Joel Conner clinic:
Dearest boy, how far you’ve come! Earlier this week, I came across your intake photos, and whoever was peering over my shoulder gasped – “That’s Cramer?” We met in the winter, when your coat was long and dull, and there was a bit more than just a shadow of ribs on you. You were a big and imposing fellow, capable of hanging your head over the top of your fence, a sharp contrast to the short and scrawny Otto who you arrived with. Now, just shy of a year later, you are our gentle giant, wonderful herd mate, sweet and docile boy.
We were in the clinic together, you and I. We’ve been working together for some time now, actually. You really are a wonderful partner, a result of wonderful handling prior to my time with you, not to mention that sweet brain of yours. Moving out in the round pen, it takes barely more than a look as I increase my energy, and off you go up to the next gait. When you turn in, your head comes down, and you seem to really enjoy the restful pets you receive when we meet in the middle.
We are both different creatures than we were a year ago. Both of us know more, and both of us have much still to learn (me more than you, as it always is). That said, it was a wonderful opportunity to work with you in the clinic.
You’re worried about the flag touching you – only for a moment, you realize quickly that it means nothing, but there’s a split second as it comes towards you that you feel like you need to be away from it, fast. When I pet you with the flag, it’s not to scare you, it’s to show you that it’s a meaningless thing, and also that it will not hurt you. You have the same trepidation when I approach you quickly with the intention of petting your neck. The ripples in your skin betray your unease as you move away from my hand, but it doesn’t take long after it makes gentle contact with you before you realize oh, she’s just trying to pet me. The world may have hurt you in the past, sweet Cramer, but that is no longer your reality.
So – in the clinic, we worked on the flag touching you all over, flapping around, in your blind spots. There is still work to be done on this front, but considering that just shy of a year ago we couldn’t get our hands on you at all, your strides on this front have been massive. I seek to iron out all those wrinkles in your skin, let you wear it loose and comfortable as I know you’d like to.
We worked on leading with quality, and saw a great change. By the end, I only had to suggest you walk up with me and up you would float, light as a feather.
It was a pleasure to learn from you and alongside you, Cramer. I know that you will make someone a wonderful companion one day, hopefully soon, but I’ll hold on to the moments we get to spend together until then.
Cramer has made some huge strides (but with legs his length, maybe it’s just a normal stride for him) the last several months here at SAFE. It wasn’t all that long ago that he was first learning to walk from paddock to round pen, a relatively short distance that once felt like miles. Now, his resume includes participating in a Joel Conner clinic alongside Lexee N, being turned out in a herd setting, and being so easy to catch that he gets to enjoy grass turnout.
The work that Lexee did with Cramer has made it so this sensitive guy is a model student when it comes to being roped and moved around loose in the round pen. He’s a sensitive fellow which makes him a great study on how soft one can be when asking him to move up or down through the gaits. He’s always ready to draw in when you ask, and really seems to enjoy the face pets he receives when he meets you in the middle.
It’s difficult to imagine this gentle giant was ever a bucking horse — his sweet personality and goofy gelding energy is more akin to a giant teddy bear come to life. But this is not to discount his past and the way it affects him still. It is probable that Cramer will be adopted out as a companion because of his past experiences being saddled as a bucking horse, but this is not to say that we will treat him any differently — companion or not, we will instill him with all the tools he needs to be successful going forward. Who Cramer is now is not who he once was, and we are excited to see just how much further this sweet guy will come.
Lexee N, who has been spending time working with Cramer, had the following to say about her time with him:
Cramer is such a Handsome Man & is Making Progress!
How can you not fall in love with that face? Cramer is a very sweet gentle giant and working with him has been an extreme pleasure.
I don’t often work with a sensitive horse like Cramer and I will not lie, it’s a big change for myself. He shows you how little you need to do to affect his movement and it’s quite incredible to have him learn how to feel for you and understand pressure in a way he hasn’t before. I’ve also been able to work with the rope and flag a lot more and am getting better at petting and working with each. Which is a plus for both him and me!
Changing eyes is arguably Cramer’s biggest issue. He would much rather me be on his left side at all times, and as he follows me around, he always puts me on his left. I’ve been just trying to have him adjust himself by backing up and putting myself in positions he is comfortable with me in, so as he approaches me hopefully he can do it from either eye. The other day we were so close, he at least brought his face straight with me instead of veering past me so I’m on his left only. And I will continue to try this so hopefully he won’t always try to block me as I go from one side to the other.
I’m hoping to start taking Cramer out to his grass turn out and practice leading so hopefully we can get ready to move him around the property and eventually to a new paddock. Big things are coming for this smart boy and I’m so excited!
Cramer’s trouble is that he was improperly halter started in the past or never was taught to come with the handler. He was likely pulled on in an attempt to lead. Evidence of this is in his confusion and “stuck feet” especially when outside energy is raised. You can manage fairly well around him when it is all his idea, but when we add any element that he is unsure about, his initial reaction is to turn and run. While that clearly worked in the past, Cramer is now learning to keep his mind with the handlers and not to “cut and run.” This is a hard habit to break, but when it is worked out he will be leading correctly, respectful of the lead and choosing to stay with the handler.
Goals for Cramer in the weeks to come:
- Working on less overreaction to outside energy. Less confusion about things like the rope or the flag that don’t “mean anything” unless the handler’s feel says they have meaning.
- Continued work on Cramer’s attention to the handler. Helping set up ways for him to search out more connections with her while she works with him. This too will help with his “overreactions.”
- Not plateauing: working to get more exposure to things that will help bring “the trouble to the surface.” Just helping bring him to acceptance by closing the bind (place he feels uncomfortable) just slightly and giving as he turns loose. As a domestic horse, he will be asked for the rest of his life to be ok with things that might not all the way feel comfortable to him. We are helping him feel free in his feet to know that he is not stuck and when given this freedom of his feet he can choose to stay with us without being braced and anxious. It is a beautiful thing to watch: a horse who comes into SAFE so stuck in their feet, finding freedom. Their bodies turning loose, and in turn losing the anxiety they were holding in all interactions with humans before coming to us.
One of our volunteers, Lise A. has spent some time recently with Cramer, and had the following to say about her experience:
I have had the good fortune of getting to start grooming Cramer in early February (with Terry’s guidance of course). He and I have gotten to hang out two to three times a week. He is a big, furry and funny guy. I sure wish we knew what is going on inside that large head with the matching fuzzy cheek whorls.
As you may have noticed Cramer tends to roll in the mud of his turn out. And with Otto gone he had gotten to stretch out a bit more between both paddock areas. (now that Tiva has arrived it will be fun to see how they do together).
Wherever Cramer is he manages (if you haven’t noticed) to deposit his massive pile of poops from one end to the other of his turnout. Only those that know horses and muck will appreciate their size and the fact that there is no way you can fit it in one pitch fork scoop!
He was quite a stinker until a bath last month. And after a day or two, well yes, it is hard to tell. He is well loved in-spite of himself. And though I groom him, he is very hard to get clean so no one would ever know I was there!
He halters easily and loves to be curried almost everywhere though he is a little shy around his head and feet at times but is getting better with more loving! He will usually get his “seal nose” on with licking and chewing in the front and swing his butt back and forth in the back. As his tail swings back and forth I am left wondering what music Cramer is hearing.
There have been a few days when he can be a bit impatient with grooming and can’t be bothered with standing around for too long. But, when I release him he will always follow me wondering why I would leave him behind — “didn’t I know that he was just kidding and wasn’t quite done yet”.
Cramer is a big guy and seems to have a big heart and there is likely a big story to tell that none of us will ever know. However, we can all hope that he will unwind and learn to trust in each of us as we stop by to say “hi”. With each loving contact, my wish is that he will learn that he has landed at a great stopping place …. on his way to finding a forever home.
We are happy to report that Cramer has successfully had all four hooves trimmed. He was a gem for the farrier and stayed connected to the handler without trouble. He has a kind and thoughtful nature. When he had issues with the hind it was less from being “naughty” than him figuring out how to balance his weight to keep that big body up. I won’t say that he is 100% without a little bit of testing the handlers but quickly and with thoughtfulness remained composed and relaxed about the event. His eyes remained soft and when he had a minor anxiety, he quickly melted back into the lovable gentle giant we are quickly falling in love with here at SAFE!
Check out the video of Cramer’s first trim:
Cramer was a very good boy for his first bath at SAFE. He has come a long way from the timid giant that arrived just a short time ago. He is coming along nicely in the halter work, and we have been able to complete his first dental, vaccines and worming treatments. Over the next weeks we hope to have his first farrier visit and begin walking him around the property. We were surprised to find out during his dental exam that he only 8 years old! More to come as this kind soul continues to get changes through SAFE’s horsemanship program. Cramer will be available for adoption after he is assessed and if all goes well, started as a riding horse.