Heather Smith Thomas

Heather Smith Thomas ranches with her husband near Salmon, Idaho, raising cattle and a few horses. She has a B.A. in English and history from University of Puget Sound (1966). She has raised and trained horses for 50 years, and has been writing freelance articles and books nearly that long, publishing 20 books and more than 9,000 articles for horse and livestock publications. Some of her books include Understanding Equine Hoof Care, The Horse Conformation Handbook, Care and Management of Horses, Storey's Guide to Raising Horses and Storey's Guide to Training Horses. Besides having her own blog, www.heathersmiththomas.blogspot.com, she writes a biweekly blog at http://insidestorey.blogspot.com that comes out on Tuesdays.

Articles by Heather Thomas

Safe (Equine) Teasing

Teasing is essential to detect when a broodmare is in estrus, but it's no easy feat due to the size and power of the animals involved. Safety should be top priority--to avoid injury to horses and people. Read More

Feeding the Estrous Cycle: Tailoring the Mare's Diet

Mares must have a well-balanced diet and healthy body condition to cycle properly, conceive, and carry a foal. Read More

Eye Trauma in Horses

Eye injuries are fairly common in horses and can be serious, especially if neglected. They run the gamut from corneal injuries (e.g., superficial scratches, punctures, or a foreign body caught under an eyelid) to full-thickness eyelid lacerations to Read More

Shedding Light on Strangles in Horses

Strangles is caused by a bacterium that gains access to the body through the nose or throat. Some affected horses suffer breathing obstruction due to enlarged lymph nodes that narrow the air passages--hence, the name strangles. Read More

Multi-Species Grazing: Horses and Cows and Goats, Oh My!

A handful of horses graze in a pasture one week; a herd of goats mow down its bushes and weeds the next. This multi-species rotational grazing system has its advantages, but whether they outweigh the disadvantages will depend on your situation Read More

Ways to Wean Young Horses

Parting is such sweet sorrow. Weaning a foal can be painful or painless, depending on how you do it. Read More

Pasture Sugars

Grass is grass, right? Wrong! That lovely green pasture you've diligently watered and kept weed-free can be like Jekyll and Hyde. If your horse is at risk for grass founder or has a low tolerance for high levels of sugar Read More

Lameness: Getting to the Bottom of It

Pinpointing lameness in horses is crucial before proper treatment can be prescribed. There are several approaches to lameness examinations and diagnostic methods, which will be partly determined by the age of the horse and what it does for living. Read More

First Steps for Foal Handling

Discussion of the many ways to teach young horses/foals to submit to humans; from imprinting to halter training, tying, grooming, and much more. Read More

All Eyes and Ears

The horse in the wild depends on keen eyesight and acute hearing to detect danger and flee from predators. Read More

The Horse's Digestive System

Brushing up on our knowledge about how the horse's digestive tract functions can help us feed horses more wisely, avoiding some of the feed-related problems that might lead to colic and other gastrointestinal (GI) tract ailments. Read More

Contracted and Sheared Heels

A number of factors must fit together seamlessly in order for a horse to remain sound and healthy: His hooves must bear weight properly in order to stay sound, with multiple structures sharing the load. If there is too much stress on any one part, o Read More

Tetanus in Horses

Tetanus proves deadly in 50-75% of cases, so ensure your horse is adequately vaccinated. Read More

Basic Hoof Care

A horse is only as sound as his feet. Care and management of the feet will vary, however, depending on the individual horse, his conformation and hoof structure, environment and climate, and use. Whether he needs to be shod or can be left barefoot wi Read More

Horse Hock Health

The hock is one of the most complex and hardest-worked joints in the horse's body, so it must be strong and sturdy to avoid injury. Much of what we ask our horses to do, whether high-performance dressage, reining, jumping, or simply going up and Read More

Hock Problems and Age

Horses can suffer hock problems at any age. Scott McClure, DVM, PhD, Dipl. ACVS, an assistant professor in the Department of Veterinary Clinical Sciences at Iowa State University, points out that some horses develop juvenile spavin as foals. Read More

EEE, WEE, and VEE (Eastern, Western, and Venezuelan Equine Encephalitis)

Eastern, Western, and Venezuelan equine encephalitis can be deadly, but they also can be prevented.

Author’s Note: My grandfather and his neighbors in southern Idaho lost several work horses to "brain Read More

Preventing Equine Gastric Ulcers

Tips on how to manage your horse's diet to avoid ulcer development.

"This is giving me an ulcer!" These probably are words our horses would utter if they could speak because many performance horses and racehorses develop Read More

Fences and Machines: Ways to Trim Expenses

Fences and machinery are some of the higher-ticket items on a farm, and in this iffy economic climate, it might be overwhelming to even consider replacing these everyday necessities with new products. Having an organized, planned maintenance program Read More

ELISA Blood Test for Equine Pregnancy Tracking Available

Horsemen have a new option when checking mares for pregnancy this breeding season. Biotracking, a company created by Garth Sasser, PhD, a professor of animal science at the University of Idaho, came up with a blood test for ruminants (BioPRYN) a Read More

Hoof Trimming Intervals (Book Excerpt)

How often a horse needs trimming depends on many factors, particularly how fast his hooves grow. A shod horse usually needs trimming every four to ten weeks (depending on his growth rate), since there is no way for the hoof to wear naturally. Read More

Sand Colic in Horses

Horses in some management conditions are susceptible to sand ingestion; here's how to avoid sand buildup and resulting complications such as colic. Rarely do we see our horses lapping up sand like it's some rare commodity. Read More

Probiotics and Prebiotics

When the levels of the good bugs wane, pre- and probiotics might be able to help replenish them. Read More

Managing Manure

Manure is something all horse owners must deal with, but it can be worth its weight in gold as a fertilizer if properly composted.

There is no shortage of manure on a horse farm. We're simply rich with the stuff. And Read More

Horses and Tight Budgets

Here are a few ways to spend less on horsekeeping. Read More