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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 https://insidestorey.blogspot.com that comes out on Tuesdays.

Articles by Heather Smith Thomas

Stallion or Gelding?

A cryptorchid, also called a ridgling, is a male horse in which one or both testicles do not descend into the scrotum. In the developing fetus, the testicles are formed within the abdomen. As the fetus nears term, the inguinal rings and inguinal

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Bumps and Bruises

Horses often get banged and bruised by running into things, being kicked by another horse, falling down when running and bucking, etc. It’s not unusual to suddenly discover your horse has a large, soft lump on some part of his body. The most common areas are the hindquarters, chest, or along the ribs. The skin might not be damaged, but the injured tissues underneath can bleed or ooze serum,

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Spaying Mares With Newer, Safer Methods

Spaying a mare (ovariectomy) means removing her ovaries so she no longer comes into heat and has a more mellow attitude, like a gelding. An ovariectomy can be done standing (under sedation and local anesthesia) through a flank approach or a vaginal approach.

An infrequent complication associated with the old method of spaying (using a very old surgical instrument, a chain escraseur) is

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Living on the Edge

Keeping equids in a “backyard horse” situation, subdivision, or small acreage presents a different set of challenges than keeping horses on a large farm or ranch. In urban/suburban settings, some of the important considerations include zoning, building codes (if you plan to have a barn, run-in shed, indoor arena, etc.), space for exercise, waste management, fencing, and neighbors. Security an

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Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy: Healing Under Pressure

HBOT is one of the most powerful tools available as an adjunctive form of therapy, and in some cases it works well as the primary therapy in horses, says Casner. Colic and laminitis are the number one and two killers, respectively, of horses, and oxygen therapy (in conjunction with other therapies) can be very useful in treating both.

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Suspensory Ligament Injuries: Mending With Marrow

“Our hypotheses were that horses with suspensory ligament desmitis, treated with bone marrow components from their own body, would hopefully return to soundness more rapidly than horses with conventional treatments, and have a lower rate of recurrence, which is a common problem in suspensory desmitis cases,” says Herthel.

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Insuring Good Health

In today’s world, there are many types of insurance that can protect us and our horses in the event of the ravages of disease, the pocket-emptying crisis of colic, and the finality of catastrophic injury and euthanasia. Equine insurance today ranges from major medical to mortality to loss of use to fertility. An owner often opts to purchase insurance so the decision of whether the horse lives

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