March 5, 2006
I use the Spookless CD's in all of my clinics as well as training for police horses. They are the single best tool for sound conditioning on the market today becasue of the quality, and ability to control the intensity and time of exposure.
Rick Pelicano (Mounted Police Trainer and author of
Bombproof Your Horse, Trafalgar Press)
What a great product. I first believed the Spook Less concept was great in theory, but I was skeptical that a portable stereo would be able to reproduce the sounds in a lifelike manner. However, after talking with Gary, the audio engineer for Spook Less, I was willing to give one of the CD's a try. I was turned into a believer in a matter of minutes! I first tried the CD in our barn during feeding. The horses tuned into the sounds right away but did not get overly excited until I acted scared to the sounds myself. Then instantly the horses bolted away. This told me that the reproduced sounds were real enough for the horses to recognize them and at the same time they were able to learn to respond to the sounds based off of my reactions. The sounds are a real benefit in teaching horses to accept life's knowns and unknowns.
I now use the CD's with every lesson in our arena and have them play constantly in random order. The horses learn that the sounds are a part of everyday occurrences and so when they experience things that are similar to what the sounds are they remain more calm. For instance, a horse we recently trained is now ridden near some train tracks and when he first experienced a train passing by he did not "blow up" but only got a little nervous due to the vibrations of when the train went by. Thanks to the conditioning that the Spook Less CD's offer the horse and rider did not have a mishap.
The Spook Less CD's are a great investment if one trains horses, and since everyone who spends time with a horse is really training them, then using a Spook Less CD with your horse is a must.
May 22, 2005
"At Sorum Fjord Farm we believe that because a horse's hearing abilities are so advanced, sound conditioning should be an integral part of every horse's training. The Spook Less program offers an excellent, comprehensive and unique package of sounds that we have been using for several months. We first play it in the barn after evening chores. The next step is to use it in the arena as we work with our horses in a variety of skills. Through the Spook Less program we are able to bring the sound environment of the different disciplines right to our arena."
"Being able to expose our horses to this variety of sounds within a secure, non-threatening atmosphere has helped them to perform better and enhanced the safety of their handlers. We are pleased to use, and have seen positive results with the Spook Less Sound Conditioning program at Sorum Fjord Farm. I recommend the CDs for all horse training disciplines."
President, Norwegian Fjord Horse Registry
Spook Less Endorsement
Equine Clinician demonstrating De-spooking, Parade Training
and Trick Training at Horse Expos and other equine events
I can not think of money better spent on any training equipment than the Spook Less Sound Conditioning CDs. These great training CDs cover just about every activity that horse people engage in: Trail Riding, Show& Driving, Parades, Show Riding, and Mounted Horse Patrol. The sounds are so realistic that my horses went to their stall window and called out a greeting to the equine stranger whinnies that they heard. When you play the Spook Less Sound Conditioning CDs, it is as close to being in the center of the actions as you get without being there! I am particularly pleased that the sound segments are a generous length of time which I believe is more effective than a briefer period.
When used as directed, the use of these CDs will result in a braver, safer horse.
I recommend starting out by playing the CD very softly at first while your horse is in its stall. Have plenty of hay available and just before pushing "Play", put the horse’s feeding of grain or treats in the grain bin. Chewing food (keeping the horse more relaxed) will help to prevent the horse developing a tight jaw which can rapidly spread to the whole horse.
By combining something pleasant for the horse (hay, grain, treats) with a scary anxiety provoking object or situation (sound) a process called Counter Conditioning occurs. The horse will associate the scary situation with something pleasant and eventually look forward to it with pleasure. I recommend that an adult remain in an area outside of the stall when first introducing Spook Less. By speaking softly and encouragingly, your horse will take a cue from you that all is well. As the horse becomes comfortable with the new sounds and is eating, raise the volume gradually. If an increase in volume evokes a higher anxiety reaction (pacing, raising head up high, blowing, etc.) go back to the level where your horse was more comfortable and spend additional time there. The great advantage of these CDs is that if there is a particular sound that raises a horse’s anxiety--- the "Repeat" button can be pushed and that sound only is repeated over and over until the horse gets bored with it and arousal no longer occurs. Once the horse is comfortable in the stall at high volumes, the next step would be to take the horse outside in a round pen or arena or on a lead line or lunge line. I set up different sound station sites in my arena with tape recorders [boom boxes] playing different CDs all at once and then lead the horse around to each different one. Our horses look forward to this and enjoy a treat after spending longer and longer visits at each site. Only after the horse is completely comfortable both in the stall and outside being led in a halter, should one saddle up and ride them around with the CDs on, again from soft to loud in a gradual desensitizing procedure. If sufficient time has been taken exposing the horse to the sounds in the stall and leading the horse, it should be comfortable when exposed to the tapes [CDs] when ridden or other activities such as bathing, grooming, etc. If the horse shows any signs of anxiety such as tightness, prancing, tight lips and tail, throwing its head up, spooking, etc, GET OFF and continue more ground work. If the horse sighs or licks its lips or yawns, that is a good sign that the horse is relaxed and you may proceed on. It is better not to rush; you will be farther ahead in the long run in Habituation Training through Gradual Desensitization, if you take all the time needed.
I spent over a month exposing my well trained parade horses to jungle animal sounds when preparing for the Great Circus Parade in Milwaukee. It really paid off and we felt comfortable riding among the caged lions, tigers, elephants making sounds that they had already become conditioned and accustomed to.
People ask me if the training with the Spook Less CDs transfers to the real life situation. My answer is definitely: Yes. When exposed to the various sounds on the Spook Less CDs as directed, horses eventually get bored and will not react to it. Stimulus Generalization Theory suggests that it is likely that a Habituation Trained horse will generalize that reaction to similar sounds encountered in the real world. Therefore, sirens or any other sound that is similar but not exactly the same as that on the CD will not likely cause a startle or spook reaction.
When I started thinking of riding in parades with my young Arabian horses (ages three to five years) thirteen years ago, Habituation Training through Gradual Desensitization was one of my top priorities. I actually went about the difficult and expensive task of making some tapes by sitting in the horse show stands of the most vocal cheering sections, sending a tape recorder with neighbors who went for practice at a police shooting range, model airplane flights, taping the sounds of various parades, having high school drummers beat as loud as they could, and recording firecrackers going off. While these tapes made on a $100 tape recorder were helpful, the sound was pretty crude and they can not compare with the high quality Spook Less Sound Condition CDs that have been produced with the latest music producing technology from Nashville, Tenn. I would have gladly paid $100 or more for such a product, had it been available when I started my parade training. I urge all horse people of every discipline to consider the Spook Less Sound Conditioning CDs for producing a safer, more reliable, and emotionally comfortable horse. In my opinion, at a cost of about $20 to $25 each, there is not a better bargain on the market.
February 10, 2005
My name is Sgt. J.D. Harber and I’m the Commander of the Nashville, TN Metro Police Mounted Horse Patrol. Last year we worked 601 assignments, many of them large crowd events such as the Tennessee Titans NFL games. We were in crowds totaling 2.5 million people combined. Our horses have to be steady as rocks when we are out in large crowds in downtown Nashville and we have to be ready to confront all kinds of things that are scary to our horses. We use the Spook Less audio training CDs to prepare our mounts for all the things we run into on the street. From Marching Bands to Motorcycles, Barking Dogs to Air Brakes, and everything else. These audio CDs are great for getting our horses conditioned to these scary sounds. We play the CDs during training indoors and outdoors or during clinics that we put on for other mounted horse patrol officers or just for individuals who want a better steady desensitized horse. The sound quality is fantastic and far superior to anything else available on the market.
I make my living on a horse, on the street, where I have to know that my horse will not spook and I believe in the Spook Less audio CD Sound Conditioning training method. If you are a Mounted Officer or just a pleasure trail rider, these products will help put you and your horse at ease knowing he has been exposed to a multitude of potential scary sounds.
Sgt. J.D. Harber
Commander Metro Nashville, TN Mounted Horse patrol
President, Tennessee Mounted Horse Patrol Association
February 10, 2005
Hi there Ken,
I have played 2 of the CD's in my barn while I was cleaning the stall, while my horse was eating, and while he was tied in the aisle. I also walked him around in the aisle while it was playing. The ones that really made him snort and take his head out of the feed box were the babies screaming and the pigs / cows. He just hates pigs!!!!!!
He would look around behind him sometimes when I was walking him "away" from the CD Player and the truck air brakes were on. I even led him in and out of the barn while it was playing and it didn't seem to bother him. I would sit right in front of the player and give him a handful of grain or a piece of carrot with my hand right next to the player. So far, I'm very happy with the CD's. Jim stopped at the TSC in Valparaiso and bought one. He had planned on getting one for another guy too, but they only had one driving one left I guess.
I'll keep you posted. Thanks again. Patricia Essary
Hi, Ken -- I wanted to say thank you for producing the Spook Less CD. I found out about them when I volunteered to be an "incident" at a posse training clinic. The instructor for my incident (I staged a pretty good drunk shouting match at a fair ground) was a Minneapolis mounted police officer, and he uses them in his training in the cities. I have ended up in my old age as -- heaven help me -- a county commissioner. I have to run for reelection this summer, and in this small, rural part of the world that means taking part in the parades in the summer celebrations throughout my district is a must. I wanted to ride my horse, but the last time I rode in a parade I said never again. That was in a Christmas parade in Metcalfe Co, KY, where I was one of the 4-H horse club leaders. We had the kids in formation in front of us, some with flags, and some really young ones on ponies. My friend Kim and I rode drag. I had a drunk on a mule with a long shanked bit riding on my tail most of the way, so close the shank dug into my shoulder. The guys on the fire trucks were really having fun with the sirens, but when the high school kids started throwing firecrackers under the horses bellies it really got hairy. It did me in on parades. I have been playing your magical CD off and on in the barn most of the summer. Rode in the Sebeka Red River Days parade with a...bumper sticker on the back of my shirt, one on the back of my cantle, and one on each side of Holly's rump, and she was a perfect lady through the whole thing. Incidentally, I am not part of the posse, although I have friends that are, and admire their training. The most I manage any more is an occasional trail ride, and I have recently acquired a driving horse and a cart. She gets to hear the CD too. I enjoyed the note you put on the bottom of my invoice, saying you had hunted grouse in Sebeka years ago. There are still grouse here, but it's such a tiny place -- who would think? In the 18 years I lived in KY I went through Franklin a lot. By the way, I especially enjoyed the fair sounds and the auctioneer's cut. These northern auctioneers just don't sound the same. Anyway, thank you -- one more parade to go (the rowdiest one, too) --
I am telling everyone about your CD's.
Hello Ken, Thank you so much for sending me the Spook Less cd's! I have been playing the first one (Trail sounds) everyday for my two mares. My friend showed me how to use a cd player. I can follow the numbers, so I know which sound is playing, even though I can't hear it. It was really interesting to see Kola and Sheba's reactions to various sounds. At first, they were nervous and I went from one to the other with carrots, treats, and reassurances for each of the sounds. It only took about two or three days for them to settle down and be at ease while listening to the cd. I have been following the instructions that came with the cd's and this has worked very well. Both mares seem a lot calmer while I am riding them now. Your cd's are wonderful for me. They let me know exactly what my horses are hearing, even though I can't hear it myself. This is so much better than having a random noise startling them, especially when I cannot see the source of their fear. It's much better knowing what the noise was, so I can work on that sound to help the mares accept it. Thank you very much for making these valuable cd's. I strongly recommend them for training horses and am so glad that I responded to your advertisement! Happy Trails!