WildeWood Farm, Inc. is a privately owned and operated farm focused on holistic horsemanship. The farm offers lessons, training, and boarding for students and their horses. We specialize in a quality, nonviolent, and fun yet challenging learning environment for adults and children.
Our brand new farm is nestled in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains one hour north of Atlanta near Ballground. It is a convenient location in Forsyth county for students from Canton, Cumming, Alpharetta and Dawsonville. But we love to welcome international guests as well!
To grow positive future leaders through the kinship with horses. To learn responsibility, kindness, respect, honor and empathy using a horse as the non-judgmental, unbiased, non-agenda-driven “mirror” which reflects our actions and enables us to see ourselves more clearly.
Hannah Campbell Zapletal is the owner, trainer and instructor at the farm. Hannah has been actively training starters and problem horses since she was a child on her parents’ ranch in Haiti. She has been training horses here in the US since 1995. She has great compassion and “feel” for these wonderful creatures, as well as for their owners and works very diligently in creating the best learning environment for both. Horses are worked with very patiently and each horse is treated with dignity, kindness and as an individual. No two horses can be trained exactly the same as each learns at a slightly different pace. Check out our review on Google, Facebook, or Yelp, and see what our clients have said about our training. Hannah’s mentors and celebrity instructors she has learned from include amongst others Monty Roberts, Charles de Kunffy, Anky van Grunsven, George Morris and Margie Goldstein Engle.
Hannah also trains horses for Zandai Arabians. Zandai is a privately owned Egyptian Arabian breeding farm dedicated to preserving these ancient bloodlines.
Hannah’s history started in Haiti. Her parents, originally from Canada, went to Haiti to help the local population. Although they have oftentimes been described as such, Ben and Gloria Loyer were not your typical missionaries. Ben was not a pastor: his background is in technology with an emphasis on machinery and construction. They lived on a farm in northwest Haiti. Hannah is one of their four children and from a very young age got involved in working with horses. One of the many projects in Haiti was to re-introduce the “horse and buggy” concept. Everything in Haiti was and still is to a large extent done by hand. Animals are used to carry goods and if no animals were available people were used.
The “horse and buggy” project turned into a huge endeavor. The biggest hurdle was teaching the Haitian horses to pull a buggy. These are Barb-type 500 lbs. horses, under 14 hands that live on whatever they can forage on in desert-like conditions. They were tough as nails. Haitian custom has them tied to a rope all their life; they are moved from place to place, wherever there is work for them to do. As a result these horses knew that they could not go beyond the reach of the rope. When they were hitched to pull a cart, they would stop walking as soon as they felt the pull of the harness!
Hannah’s parents decided to try and breed a new kind of horse with more pulling strength, but preserving the hardiness of the original Haitian horse, one that can make do with very little water and feed.
The President of Haiti donated a Quarter Horse, and a small herd of nine mares was purchased to start the breeding program. Fifty foals were raised on the farm and when the new foals were 3 to 4 years old, they were trained for riding and to pull a buggy. The breed was still small with an average of 14 hands and a weight of 700 lbs.
With the assistance of a wonderful Canadian trainer by the name of Dave Polson the horses were started and trained. Dave visited Haiti in winter and Hannah started helping him from age 7. She was fluent in the language of Haiti, Creole, and was eager to learn. When Dave’s visits stopped, Hannah took over. She started all the young horses, got involved in the breeding program and looked after the horses; moved them between the pastures, checked them for injuries. She did not shy away from veterinary work either, which was a good thing because vets and farriers were hard to find in Haiti! Guess how young Hannah went to school? On the back of her horse, Dream! Of course!
The Educational years
In 1993, the Loyer family left Haiti to return to Canada. Hannah was invited to attend Reinhardt College in Waleska, Georgia. Her love for horses never faded and when she got married she and her husband started their own farm. In the beginning, preparing the land for the horses took up all the available time. A log cabin was built, the heavily wooded land was gradually cleared and pastures were created. With the help of Hanna’s whole family the farm took shape, with a beautiful 3-stall barn as the centerpiece. The building process was traditional: trees were cut down manually, finished to length by Ben Loyer and then Hannah and Blitz, her proud Arabian stallion, would skid the logs to the building site.
In the meantime, Hannah graduated Cum Laude with a B.S. in Biology from Reinhardt College in 1999. By then the farm was in full swing with riding lessons, summer camps and horse training. Hannah began teaching at the very elite Woodward Academy and had around 65 students a week. Her horses and equipment were trailered down there 3 days a week during the school year.
The year 1999 was a busy one! Hannah was very interested in the teachings of Monty Roberts, a great advocate of natural horsemanship. She spent 3 months on his farm in California, received her certification in 2000 and went on a month-long tour with Monty all over the southeast of the US. This started a steady flow of students to Wildewood Farms for Monty Roberts clinics. As the years went by the farm continued to grow and expand but there were also some sad moments. Blitz, the Arabian stallion that was a fixture on the property for so many years, passed on and Hannah and her husband parted ways. Baby Gabe was the silver lining in those hard times but there was light at the end of the tunnel in 2012. Hannah met her current husband Petr Zapletal. Gabe now has a little brother to play with, besides the horses and the family has recently moved their farm to a new location!
Our New Farm!
The new Wildewood farm is located off Highway 369 (still in Forsyth County) and formerly known as the Rising Fawn facility. It is nestled in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains one hour north of Atlanta near Ballground. It is a magnificent property boasting 182 rolling acres, 25 of which are dedicated to horses. There are 45 grass paddocks, two 35-stall barns, a 120’ x 240’ covered arena with a parent viewing area, an outdoor jumping arena and a regulation size dressage ring complete with mirrors. There is room for boarders (students only or training horses).
This historic facility has two old stone chimneys dating back to 1840 and it is bordered by the Etowah River. It also has a large private lake. Trails crisscross around the property. Hannah calls it her ‘dream come true’. And you can share her dream by participating in the many activities of the Wildewood farm, new style! Check out the website to find out how Wildewood farm can help you with your riding, the handling of your horse. Or just come over to visit!
2015 has seen many changes for WildeWood farm, including the addition of a full Hunter/Jumper show series, some “new to us” lesson horses, and a fun new project horse. At the end of this year, the Zapletal family welcomed a new baby girl!