"Horse Housing - How to Plan, Build, and Remodel Barns and Sheds"
By Richard Klimesh and Cherry Hill

Trafalgar Square Publishing
PO Box 257, Howe Hill Road
North Pomfret, VT 05053
Hard cover, 200 pages
Approx. $30

Looking to build or expand that dream shelter for your horse, or that barn to store your hay and feed next winter? There is now a book that can help you get there. "Horse Housing" is a comprehensive practical guide to building, remodeling, and designing that special barn or stable that both the experienced and novice horse owner would want to have.

This 200-page book is well rounded and covers the ABC’s of designing, planning, and constructing a barn, with over 150 color photos and 15 designs. "Horse Housing" is very thorough in taking you from the concept and design stage and getting the necessary permits, contractors and location to putting in finishing touches. This text is geared for all readers and its primary focus is the horse owner.

Richard and Cherry's book helps you decide on the right type of building for your area and conditions, and presents such topics as wall construction and doors, ventilation and light, flooring and drainage, storage and feed rooms, plus much more. The author also considers the climates and conditions we see across the US and how they can affect construction plans. The advantages and disadvantages of each design is presented with each plan idea so you can ascertain whether the typical problems found with the construction design would affect you in your area.

"Horse Housing" is interesting and informative, well written and easy to understand, and full of good tips and extras that the reader would want to consider when building a barn or shelter. While there are a few suggestions in the book that are questionable for the natural horse, there are many other natural and horse-friendly ideas. There is no doubt that this book will be very useful and helpful for anyone interested in or considering having a barn or shelter built or remodeled.


Less Is More – A Better Way of Handling Horses, Parts 1 and 2

By Dan Sumerel

© Sumerel Training Systems

24 Mulberry Circle
Lynchburg, VA 24502
200+ minutes total, 2-volume set
Approx. $60

Dan Sumerel's "Less Is More" is an inspiring and enlightening two-video set designed to provide a visual aid for follow-up to his delightful book, "Finding the Magic" (which explains the all-important 'why' of horse behavior), and the Sumerel Training System (STS) Horse Course. It is not designed to replace them. By itself, however, the video set is a thorough introduction to the 'how' of STS, and a great teaching tool that will prompt any viewer to want to learn more. It introduces exceptionally effective concepts in the horse/ human relationship-building process that are refreshingly different.

"Less Is More" is also a different kind of video in that the viewer sees not only a demonstration of the teaching and learning process being done correctly and efficiently by the expert, but also reality - the pitfalls commonly encountered when the novice attempts this method. It shows ordinary horsefolk attempting the process and making the mistakes people most often make when establishing a relationship with the horse. Trying something new, making mistakes and working through them is how we learn and do. It is valuable to watch something done imperfectly to see the mistakes we are likely to make ourselves, to be able to recognize and understand them, and to know how to correct them.

Dan demonstrates first, showing the fundamentals. He points out why this method is different from other round pen ways. Because horses show their true attitudes and attention spans when they are loose, 'at liberty' is most revealing of the horse's true thoughts. The horse needs to express his attitude so we can see it, know that it is there, and work through it. This method is a process, not the flip of a switch - it goes on through life, and the horse will forever test our leadership. Dan's unique process works on young horses, old, all breeds, and all disciplines, and is a way to establish one's place in the pecking order.

Confident and well-spoken, Dan narrates throughout the video explaining what is happening, what is going to happen, what isn't happening, and why. He deciphers the horse's body language as it changes. More importantly, he points out the person's body language and position and how they influence the horse. "Less Is More" helps the viewer recognize signs of trying, yielding, disrespect, resistance, and aggression (and how to 'test' for these behaviors), and how to set guidelines for the horse on what is and isn't acceptable in a way that the horse understands and respects. The role of leader is demonstrated and explained. Dan also points out how and how not to correct certain behaviors, so that we don't destroy the horse's will to try.

Dan wants to empower the viewer to be in control - NOT to destroy character or break the spirit of the horses, but to win them over. According to Dan, the goal of discipline (a mental step) is to change a mental attitude or pattern of behavior; likewise, he believes leading a horse should be a mental attachment rather than a physical one. Dan says, "We should take responsibility for the way the horse is, not find excuses for him or blame his breeding, etc."

Throughout this video set, the Sumerel Training System is applied to 9 different horses with 9 different horsenalities, and 9 different people, to present a variety of horses, handlers, and attitudes. The use of split screens allows the viewer to see both the horse and the person clearly. Each horse started out quite different and all ended up attentive, comfortable, and respectful. Every horse is different, and STS works with every horse, yet it is not a cookie-cutter approach. "It is fundamentals, and they always work, however they may need to be applied differently according to the horse," says Dan. STS provides a plan and a structure to relate with the horse and to build upon. "Less Is More" presents these fundamentals, the foundation of the horse and human relationship. The viewer sees how and why this method works throughout these tapes.

A round pen is used (not abused) with this system, in which a minimum number of laps accompany the necessary turning exercise. Dan says, "Do as little as possible but as much as necessary." Then the person must 'stand', and 'wait, wait, wait' (the hard part). This video set is not a solid block of action - in fact it is minimal on action and maximal on response and relationship building. At the beginning of the tape, Dan warns that there will be 'down time' while the person is waiting for the horse to think, evaluate what is going on, and to make his own decision about how to respond. These waiting periods were left in intentionally to let the viewer realize (and become familiar with) the length of time it actually takes for the horse to process and respond to his person. In some cases, where the length of time was excessive, it was edited out and noted as such.

These waiting periods were not boring to me; in fact, I found it riveting to watch every tiny and almost imperceptible move each horse made, knowing that at any time the moment of response would come and the horse would walk to the person. The viewer will soon realize that 'just standing there with the horse' IS doing something. Dan says, "Another word for 'reactive' is 'spooky'. People typically get too impatient and pushy and make them reactive when we really want them to be calm and thoughtful. We must wait after each step of the process for the horse to digest what just happened."

The final minutes of the video contain a segment featuring commonly asked questions and their answers, and Dan reminds us to "think of it as play and not work" when we work with our horses.

The "Less Is More" video set shows a unique new way of establishing a good, safe relationship with the horse. Though "Less Is More" is meant to be a follow-up, it is an excellent video for anyone to see how things can be done differently to achieve much greater results when establishing a relationship with the horse, especially when using a round pen.