The Story Behind Sandy Cramer’s ‘Skeleton Horse’

You may have seen photos of this pair floating around social media — their ghoulish disguise is pretty hard to miss! We talk to Sandy Cramer about her horse, Raven, and their unusual Halloween tradition.

Photos digitally mastered by Dorota Kudyba’s Art and used with permission from Sandy Cramer.


Sandy and Raven live in Rockbridge, Ohio and, roundabout this time of the year they keep themselves pretty busy. Sandy is the owner of Knot Just Rope, which specializes in handmade custom rope tack, and Raven accompanies her to their shop in the Hocking Hills Market each weekend in October. This is the fourth year they’ve adopted a “Skeleton Horse” disguise for the outings and, both online and in the flesh, they’ve acquired quite a following. We are grateful that Sandy took a few moments to speak with HN about the story of how her “Skeleton Horse” came to be.

First, tell us about your horse, Raven.

Raven is a 12-year-old registered breeding stock paint. When Raven (who’s registered name is Whispers Fantasy) was four, I had her as a client’s horse for training. Two years later at the age of six the opportunity to purchase her was there. I have now owned her for 6six years. I got her as a barrel prospect but since then have taken a different path towards trick training and obstacle challenge courses.

When you did you get the idea to paint Raven?

I came across the idea to paint Raven as a ‘skeleton horse’ three years ago when I wanted to enter a photo contest but you AND your horse had to be in costume. I started researching ideas on line and came across the idea of a skeleton. I thought, “Why not, I have a black horse?”


How long does it take you? What kind of paint do you use, and is it hard to wash off?

It takes about three hours to paint both sides. I use a water-based non-toxic acrylic craft paint. It is no worse then getting caked-on mud off; if anything it is probably a bit easier the dried mud. The paint dries but once it is soaked most of it peels off like peeling skin from a sunburn. If it is too cold, like towards the end of the month, I’ll brush and curry her to get most off and then turn her out in pasture to roll and when we get a soaking rain I’ll stand out there after she has been in it for about an hour and then rubber curry the rest off. There will be some spots that have a slight “frosting” on the tips of the hair but that wears off in about a week.

Are you an artist?

I have some drawing artistic ability but never pursued it much past high school. I actually tie handmade rope tack. My business is Knot Just Rope and Raven is my icon for my shop.


It’s pretty anatomically correct. Did you have to study up on equine anatomy?

My goal from high school was to become a vet so I do have some knowledge in that field. As time went on the more I realized I wanted the knowledge for my own animals and not the commitment of a “practice.”

What does Raven think about her skeleton alter-ego?

What does Raven think of it… well, I doubt we’ll ever know the real answer to that. What I can tell you is she will stand there and let me paint her each weekend. She’ll practically jump into the trailer to go to the shop every weekend, and she loves the attention she gets while down at the market. People bring her apples, carrots, and even mints. She has a few “favorite” shops she like to frequent while we walk around the market as she knows they have mints just for her.


Raven is kind of an internet superstar. What’s it like seeing your horse’s photo all over the web?

I have gotten use to seeing her photo now on the internet. What is great is my family calling me up or messaging me who just had a ‘friend of theirs’ share a photo and them knowing who the horse is. I never thought this would be as big as it has turned out. I know I was not the first to paint my horse as a skeleton and I will not be the last — but, Raven and I have in fact made history.

Anything else you think people would like to know?

I want to caution people who decide to give this a try. Know both you and your horse’s limits — don’t try and force your horse. Have a great foundation before you start. I have spent many hours working with my horses and working on patience and sacking out. Build that trust and bond. I am a firm believer that the more time you spend with your horse then not only a better horse you’ll have but you’ll also have a willing partner. Know too that the paint brush is light and can be ticklish — to them it could be a fly that just landed and about to bite — so give your horse the warning with the side of your hand to let them know it’s you and not a fly.

On a side note, I make handmade custom rope tack from halters to bridles including bitless and have a shop in the Hocking Hills Market in Rockbridge, Ohio. Raven can bee seen every weekend during the month of October up to and including Halloween day.


Many thanks to Sandy for filling us in! You can keep up with Raven and her exploits by “liking” the Knot Just Rope Facebook page. Happy Halloween, and Go Riding!

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