Elizabeth Wood
photo by Phil West

Click here for more
TRAINING NOTES from Elizabeth

Helicopter used to de-spook Thoroughbred horses.


Our Horse For Sale - Bounced is unconcerned with incoming helicopters. His "Friend" Andi is a physician's assistant and the helicopters made her feel like a doctor on on the TV show M*A*S*H.

Here is Andi's story about the helicopter:

We certainly had an interesting training opportunity yesterday morning at the farm! A huge Army helicopter flying repeatedly overhead, close enough for us to
wave to the occupants and have them wave back at us provided a great chance to do some "de spooking" with Bounced and Stevie Loverboy. Bounced was not really very disturbed by them, and got over it quickly as he got used to the racket. It seemed that I couldn't really get him to focus on what we were trying to work on, as well as usual, but I guess that is understandable since the racket they were making overhead could not be ignored! If that ever happens again, our boys will be prepared!


Click here to see more photos of our Horse For Sale - Bounced.


Here is Missy Miller's high flying story:

Little did I know when I headed to the barn today for my usual Wednesday morning ride that I would be presented with such a wonderful training opportunity. I guess there was really no way of knowing that a military helicopter was going to take up residence at the school across the street and do "Top Gun" like fly-bys of the barn. Loverboy and I stepped out of the barn just as the helicopter was flying directly overhead. We turned so we could face it and watched it fly over, Loverboy seemed fairly nonplussed. As we make our way up the driveway to the arena, I notice it has now landed across the street. There is the steady whir of the blades and we can see them rotating as we walk up the drive. Well, Loverboy didn't take kindly at all to the "alien" taking up residence across the street. He stopped dead in his tracks and wouldn't move another foot...AWAY from the barn, that is. He decided it was time to take cover. I decided calm and easy was the approach, and started talking in a low voice. I slowly eased him up the hill and as we turned away from the helicopter towards the arena, I noticed him start to calm down. I started fussing over him and telling him brave he is...and I can swear to you I saw him start to walk with a little more swagger! He was very pleased with himself to say the least.
We continued our work in the arena as the chopper continued to fly just above our heads. Loverboy jigged around at first, not really knowing what to make of the constant commotion. By the time the "alien" flew over us the 3rd time, he was settled and stood quietly by the fence to watch it go by.
Yet another small accomplishment for my guy and I am oh-so-proud!


Click here to read Stevie Loverboy's Success Stories.

training notes from elizabeth

Our horses > training notes from elizabeth > March 12, 2008

Our training notes often show schooling at the farm but may also include cross country schoolings and trail rides away from the farm. Go back through our notes to see how we train our off-the-track Thoroughbreds and prepare them for new careers as sport horses.

Training Notes - De-Spooking with Helicopters

De-spooking horses with helicopters

Our Horse For Sale - Bounced is unconcerened with incoming helicopters.
Our Horse For Sale - Bounced is unconcerned with incoming helicopters. March 12, 2008

We had a great schooling opportunity, on March 12, 2008. The high school across the street had a Georgia National Guard Black Hawk helicopter fly in to give helicopter rides to the students. The helicopter kept landing and taking off across the street just a few hundred yards from our front pastures where six off-the-track Thoroughbred (OTTB) horses grazed without raising their heads. With each flight, the helicopter hovered over the pastures before taking a circular tour which concluded by flying just a few hundred feet above our arena where Bounced and Stevie Loverboy were being ridden. Neither horse was the least bit concerned with the helicopter flying so low we could see the faces of the students receiving their ride. Much of this I attribute to the fact that they are ex-race horses. Thoroughbreds at the track are exposed to all kinds of noises, vehicles, loose horses and all kinds of things happening around them. OTTBs are less spooky than home bred horses. Horses that never raced seem to "look" at things more closely and are ready to bolt if it moves.

Ground work is important!

Ground work teaches the horses to trust their handler or rider. We start all our horses using natural horsemanship techniques. The horse needs to learn to trust and respect you on the ground first. This works to your advantage when riding him later.

Our unraced horse, Flame Boyant, is a good example of the results of natural horsemanship. "Flame" would tend to "look" at things, so we did some de-spook training with him recently. His handler taught him not to react to the big lunge whip no matter where it was placed on his body or even if if it was snapped beside him. Next, was teaching him to face his fears using a big blue plastic tarp.

Click on the image with your right mouse button and choose PLAY to see a Flash animation.

The day was windy and the tarp kept rolling around the arena. Because "Flame" had been worked using natural horsemanship techniques, he trusted his handler and only spooked the first time over the tarp. After that he calmly trotted over the tarp without a second thought.

After doing the ground training in the arena, we took "Flame" to the little creek that he had been afraid to cross for several months. He had been stubborn about even walking near the creek. He would remain calm but he would plant his feet and not move anywhere near the creek in the past. Now he was cautious but he quietly followed his handler and walked over the creek. He can now be ridden across the creek without hesitation. It just took a little time to do the ground work and teach him that he needs to obey and that his "person" is not going to put him in a dangerous situation. The horse just needs to learn that you are his leader and he can trust you.

Click on the image with your right mouse button and choose PLAY to see Flame Boyant cross the creek.

There are many well known natural horsemen who do clinics and have books and videos available that can teach you in detail what I have briefly described here. Take the time to learn how to become the leader and your horse will calmly follow your lead without question - even when helicopters fly overhead and tarp roll underfoot!

The Thoroughbred horses in the pasture do not even look up as the helicopter lands across the street at the school.
The Thoroughbred horses in the pasture do not even look up as the helicopter lands across the street at the school.

Would you like a Web site for your business? That's how we make our living!
Click here for more information.
© 2008 Copyright Bits & Bytes Farm /Egeland Wood & Zuber, Inc.