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.