Heather Smith Thomas

Shoeing Lessons Learned on the Ranch

She only shoes her own horses, but an Idaho rancher is no shoeing novice


NO MATERNITY LEAVE. Heather Smith Thomas says ranchers often have to do work themselves because it’s too expensive or inconvenient to have someone come to the ranch to do it. In this photo, she’s shoeing one of her own horses — just two weeks after the birth of her first child.

Necessity is the mother of invention, as the old saying goes, and someone once said that ranching is the mother of necessity. In other words, to survive in ranching, a rancher has to be innovative and a jack of all trades.

Often, it’s not economically or logistically feasible to hire someone to do a ranch job that must be done, so you do it yourself. When a fence starts to fall down, you fix it. When an animal is sick or injured, you treat it — unless it’s a situation where you need a vet to do a surgical procedure or something else you can’t do.

And if a horse needs shoes, you shoe it.

You make exceptions of course, for unusual cases that need attention from a professional. But on most ranches, a horse that needs much attention from anyone but yourself gets sold because you can’t afford the hassle, expense and inconvenience of having to depend on — and pay — someone else.

I am not a farrier. I don’t shoe other people’s horses. On rare occasions, when I was much younger, I shod a few horses for friends who asked me, but that was 30 years…

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Heather Smith Thomas

Heather Smith Thomas is a freelance writer based in Salmon, Idaho. She has been writing books and articles for nearly 50 years.

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