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

The First Supper

Your new foal is struggling to his feet and instinctively wobbling toward mom. You watch in anxious interest as she licks and nudges to encourage him--while he noses at her front leg, her flank, her buttock, and finally, DINNER!

The mare's Read More

Book Excerpt: Rainrot

Rainrot (rain scald) is a skin problem that often appears during wet weather. Read More

Feeding Horses in Winter (Book Excerpt)

A horse's nutrient requirements increase with cold weather; he needs more calories to generate heat to keep warm. Mature horses in good condition usually don't need grain, however, if they have good winter pasture or grass hay. Read More

Overactive and Underweight

Sometimes it's challenging to keep weight on a horse. A hyperactive horse might burn off too many calories to stay in optimum body condition, while an old broodmare with digestive inefficiency can lose weight during the stress of lactation. We'll Read More

More Than a Bad Habit

Many horses are kept in an unnatural environment--confined in stalls or small pens. Some of them resort to repetitive behaviors such as cribbing, weaving, or stall walking. Most of these horses are fed concentrated, high-energy rations they Read More

Equine Body Language

When handling a horse, you are better prepared for his actions and reactions if you can interpret his body language, to know whether he is at ease with what you are doing, nervous, afraid, annoyed, or resentful. Part of handling horses safely Read More

Hoof Structure and Foot Facts (Book Excerpt)

The old saying, "No hoof, no horse" is very true, especially as it pertains to the horse's working ability and soundness. The horse is an athlete; we use him for a variety of athletic purposes -- racing, jumping, chasing cattle, pulling carts. Read More

Ridin' Fence

There are many options available today for horse owners when installing or redoing pen and pasture fencing. The first thought should be the safety of the horses. Sometimes a fencing makeover will mean tearing out all of the old fence and Read More

Water Makeovers on the Farm

There are many things to consider when supplying water for horses. If you depend on a stream, pond, or ditch (rather than a controlled system such as buckets, tanks, or automatic waterers), there could be concerns regarding water quality (for your Read More

Communicating With Horses

To work with horses successfully, we must be able to communicate adequately with voice, touch, and body language. The horseman must be sensitive and sympathetic, with an intuitive feel for what is right for that particular horse at that Read More

Endophyte-Infected Fescue

Tall fescue (Festuca arundinacea) is a nutritious cool-season perennial grass that grows on more than 35 million acres in the United States. Introduced from Europe more than 100 years ago, it didn't become popular until the mid-1940s afte Read More

Protect Horses From Bugs

Flies and mosquitoes are a nuisance, causing irritation and discomfort as they feed on horses. They can also be a health risk, spreading West Nile virus, encephalomyelitis viruses, equine infectious anemia, vesicular stomatitis, and other Read More

Feeding the Problem Horse (Book Excerpt)

Some horses present special challenges, such as being too thin, too fat, or sick. Some horses are finicky and are hard to keep weight on, especially when working. The first option is to increase the feed's energy density by adding grain or fat to the Read More

Skin Problems in Horses

There are many problems that can affect a horse's skin--from insect allergies to fungal, viral, or bacterial infections. The skin is the body's largest and most important organ; it protects the inner structures of the body from the outside Read More

Hoof Care For Your Horses

The horse's leg below the fetlock joint is similar to the human finger; the long pastern bone, short pastern bone, and coffin bone are comparable to the three segments of a human finger. The hoof wall is made of the same material as our Read More

Winter and Cold Weather Care (Book Excerpt)

During winter the horse needs additional forage to create more body heat, clean unfrozen water, and some kind of shelter or windbreak. In some climates he may need blanketing if his winter hair coat is inadequate. Cold weather is not a problem if Read More

Hey There, Honey!

In nature, mares have a high fertility/ conception rate since they are continually with a stallion who teases and breeds them at the best times. But few domestic horses are bred under natural conditions in pasture harems, and broodmare managers Read More

Analyzing Forages

We all know a horse's primary food is pasture grass and/or hay (forage). The quality of the forage is, thus, a major factor affecting his health. Do you know if your horse's forage meets his needs? Truly, most of us don't--but we should. Read More

Biomechanical Efficiency

The horse is an amazing athlete, with great speed and endurance considering his body size and weight. For the past 20 years, researchers have evaluated what makes the equine locomotive system so efficient for racing and other strenuous Read More

Dung Beetles

Dung beetles are amazing insects that spend their lives mucking out your pastures. The adults use liquid contents for nourishment, and they lay eggs in small manure balls (brood balls) they bury in the ground. In the process, they serve as Read More

Photosensitization in the Horse

 

Photosensitization is a serious skin condition characterized by "sunburned," crusty skin that dies and sloughs away. It is usually caused by a reaction to something the horse has eaten, but the skin problem does not appear until the Read More

Weaning Foals

There are many ways to wean foals, so choose a method that will work best for your horses and farm. Read More

Ponying for Exercise

Ponying is leading one horse from another. The pony horse is the one you are riding; the ponied horse is the one being led. Ponying is a good way to exercise a horse you don't have time to ride or one that can't be ridden. If you need to keep tw Read More

Innovative Mare Milker

A new invention by Buck Wheeler called the Udderly EZ mare milker is helping breeding farms manage colostrum collection and the sometimes difficult task of milking a mare.

The device is a hand-held, trigger-operated pump that fits on a Read More

Salmonella in Horses

Salmonellosis affects humans, horses, most mammals, and birds. It can cause debilitating--and even deadly--diarrhea. Salmonella bacteria can affect both foals and adults, and they spread easily by horse-to-horse contact and by fomites Read More