Stable​ ​owner​ ​adds​ ​new​ ​meaning​ ​to​ ‘dedication’

posted Dec. 4, 2017 8:43 a.m. (CDT)
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by / Cassandra​ ​King | Correspondent

OREGON​ ​—​ ​In​ ​this​ ​small​ ​Dane​ ​County​ ​town, Keith​ ​Kramer​ ​has​ ​proven​ ​that​ ​with​ ​enough passion​ ​and​ ​hard​ ​work, anyone​ ​can​ ​accomplish​ ​anything.

His​ ​brain​ child, ​Triple​ ​K​ ​Stables, ​is​ ​a​ ​boarding​ ​facility​ ​for​ ​horses​ ​and​ ​has​ ​been​ ​open​ ​since​ ​1970. Along​ ​with​ ​the​ ​farm, Kramer’s​ ​story​ ​spans​ ​decades.

As​ ​a​ ​child, Kramer​ ​lived​ ​on​ ​a​ ​cattle​ ​farm​ ​in​ ​Prairie​ ​du​ ​Chien​ ​with​ ​his​ ​parents​ ​and​ ​two​ ​older siblings.

“I​ ​had​ ​a​ ​pony​ ​I​ ​would​ ​ride​ ​to​ ​school​ ​some​ ​days,”​ ​said Kramer​, who​ ​attended​ ​country school​ ​as​ ​a​ ​boy. “But​ ​my​ ​sister​ ​was​ ​the​ ​one​ ​who​ ​was​ ​really​ ​into​ ​horses.”

Kramer’s​ ​older​ ​sister, Elaine​ ​Kramer, is​ ​one​ ​of​ ​America’s​ ​most​ ​famous​ ​Roman​ ​riders. She performed​ ​in​ ​1955​ ​and​ ​was​ ​later​ ​inducted​ ​into​ ​the​ ​National​ ​Cowgirl​ ​Museum​ ​and​ ​Hall​ ​of​ ​Fame in​ ​2005.

“Elaine​ ​was​ ​flabbergasted​ ​when​ ​I​ ​opened​ ​the​ ​stables,”​ ​Kramer​ ​said. “She​ ​thought​ ​I​ ​would​ ​never really​ ​be​ ​around​ ​horses, and​ ​then​ ​she​ ​comes​ ​home​ ​one​ ​day​ ​from​ ​one​ ​of​ ​her​ ​tours​ ​and​ ​I​ ​have the​ ​place​ ​all​ ​set​ ​up​ ​and​ ​ready​ ​to​ ​go.”

Kramer​ ​bought​ ​the​ ​80​ ​acres​ ​that​ ​now​ ​make​ ​up​ ​Triple​ ​K​ ​when​ ​he​ ​was​ ​28, with​ ​the​ ​hopes​ ​of creating​ ​an​ ​affordable​ ​boarding​ ​space​ ​for​ ​horses. Working​ ​as​ ​a​ ​truck​ ​driver​ ​during​ ​the​ ​day​ ​and​ ​a bouncer​ ​at​ ​night, he​ ​began​ ​renovating​ ​the​ ​old​ ​dairy​ ​barn​ ​on​ ​the​ ​property​ ​in​ ​every​ ​bit​ ​of​ ​spare time​ ​he​ ​had.

“I​ ​started​ ​with​ ​only​ ​eight​ ​stalls,”​ ​he​ ​said. “I​ ​only​ ​wanted​ ​to​ ​board​ ​a​ ​few​ ​horses. But as​ ​time​ ​went​ ​on, more​ ​and​ ​more​ ​people​ ​asked​ ​to​ ​board​ ​their​ ​horses, so​ ​I​ ​kept​ ​adding​ ​stalls. I ended​ ​up​ ​with​ ​50.”

In​ ​addition​ ​to​ ​the​ ​50​ ​stalls, Kramer​ ​built​ ​an​ ​outdoor​ ​and​ ​indoor​ ​arena​ ​for​ ​riding, as​ ​well​ ​as lockers​ ​for​ ​clients’​ ​horse​ ​tack.

The​ ​horse​ ​business​ ​quickly​ ​evolved. With​ ​his​ ​truck​ ​driving​ ​experience, Kramer​ ​became​ ​a popular​ ​option​ ​for​ ​transporting​ ​horses.

“I’ve​ ​transported​ ​horses​ ​all​ ​over,”​ ​he​ ​said. “From​ ​Duluth to​ ​Phoenix, East​ ​Coast​ ​to​ ​West​ ​Coast ...​ (transportation) became​ ​very​ ​big. I ​even​ ​had​ ​a gentleman​ ​request​ ​I​ ​transport​ ​a​ ​horse​ ​from​ ​Alaska​ ​to​ ​Nicaragua.”

Kramer​ ​also​ ​grows​ ​his​ ​own​ ​hay. Some years he​ ​has​ ​so​ ​much​ ​excess​ ​hay​ ​that​ ​he​ ​donates​ ​it​ ​to those​ ​in​ ​need.

“North​ ​Dakota​ ​had​ ​a​ ​big​ ​shortage​ ​of​ ​hay​ ​and​ ​crops​ ​this​ ​past​ ​summer,”​ ​he​ ​said. “I called​ ​some​ ​folks​ ​over​ ​there​ ​and​ ​asked​ ​if​ ​they’d​ ​like​ ​some​ ​extra​ ​hay. I ​parted​ ​with​ ​six​ ​semi loads.”

Though​ ​Kramer’s​ ​business​ ​was​ ​booming, he​ ​suffered​ ​a​ ​number​ ​of​ ​hardships​ ​along​ ​the​ ​way. His ex-wife​ ​left​ ​him​ ​to​ ​raise​ ​his​ ​two​ ​youngest​ ​sons​ ​and ​run​ ​the​ ​farm on his own. In 2008​ ​he​ ​needed​ ​a​ ​kidney​ ​transplant, and​ ​in​ ​2014​ ​required​ ​emergency​ ​brain​ ​surgery​ ​due​ ​to​ ​a farm-related​ ​injury. Then, on​ ​June​ ​30, 2014, an​ ​F1​ ​tornado​ ​touched​ ​down​ ​outside​ ​of​ ​town​ ​and cut​ ​through​ ​his​ ​farm.

“My​ ​house​ ​was​ ​mostly​ ​undamaged,”​ ​Kramer​ ​said, “but​ ​the​ ​barns​ ​had​ ​chunks​ ​of​ ​their​ ​roofs ripped​ ​off.”

Miraculously, none​ ​of​ ​the​ ​horses​ ​were​ ​injured, but​ ​the​ ​damage​ ​hit​ ​Kramer’s​ ​wallet​ ​hard.

“It​ ​cost me​ ​about​ ​$300,000 ​in​ ​damages,”​ ​he​ ​said. “Three​ ​years​ ​later, I’m​ ​still​ ​recovering​ ​from​ ​that tornado.”

Despite​ ​these​ ​challenges, Kramer​ ​has​ ​kept​ ​an​ ​outstanding​ ​work​ ​ethic​ ​and​ ​witty​ ​personality alongside​ ​his​  ​wife, Sue​ ​Kramer. ​In​ ​fact, there​ ​are​ ​days​ ​where​ ​Kramer​ ​barely​ ​has​ ​time​ ​to sleep, sneaking​ ​a​ ​few​ ​winks​ ​here​ ​and​ ​there​ ​before​ ​marching​ ​back​ ​to​ ​the​ ​stables.

“We​ ​haven’t​ ​gone​ ​on​ ​a​ ​vacation​ ​in​ ​years​ ​where​ ​we weren’t​ ​towing​ ​a​ ​horse​ ​behind​ ​us,”​ ​he​ ​said. “We​ ​work​ ​on​ ​weekends, holidays, all​ ​year​-​round. Not​ ​much​ ​opportunity​ ​for​ ​time​ ​off.”​

To​ ​everyone’s​ ​surprise, Kramer​ ​has​ ​never​ ​actually​ ​owned​ ​his​ ​own​ ​horse.

“Besides​ ​the​ ​pony​ ​I had​ ​as​ ​a​ ​boy, I’ve​ ​never​ ​had​ ​my​ ​own,”​ ​he​ ​said. “I​ ​don’t​ ​think​ ​I’ve​ ​even​ ​ridden​ ​a​ ​horse​ ​since​ ​’76. I know​ ​that​ ​if​ ​I​ ​get​ ​my​ ​own​ ​horse, my​ ​wife​ ​will​ ​want​ ​her​ ​own, and​ ​then​ ​my​ ​boys​ ​will​ ​want​ ​their​ ​own too, and​ ​then​ ​I’ll​ ​have​ ​a​ ​whole​ ​stable​ ​full​ ​of​ ​my​ ​horses​ ​instead​ ​of​ ​other​ ​people’s.”

Now, at​ ​age​ ​75, Kramer​ ​remains​ ​dedicated​ ​to​ ​his​ ​work​ ​and, regardless​ ​of​ ​its​ ​challenges, has little​ ​interest​ ​in​ ​slowing​ ​down.

“I​ ​suppose​ ​once​ ​I​ ​hit​ ​80​ ​I’ll​ ​start​ ​thinking​ ​about​ ​doing​ ​a​ ​little​ ​less work,”​ ​he​ ​said.

Kramer​ ​also​ ​rents​ ​out​ ​his​ ​indoor​ ​arena​ ​for​ ​horse​ ​shows​ ​every​ ​Memorial​ ​Day and​ ​has​ ​hopes​ ​for starting​ ​competitions​ ​in​ ​his​ ​outdoor​ ​arena.






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