Storey's Guide to Raising Horses, 3rd Edition

Breeding, Care, Facilities


By Heather Smith Thomas

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This item is a preorder. Your payment method will be charged immediately, and the product is expected to ship on or around February 16, 2021. This date is subject to change due to shipping delays beyond our control.

Now with full-color photography and illustrations throughout, the completely updated third edition of Storey’s Guide to Raising Horses is the most comprehensive horse husbandry handbook available, whether you’re a first-time owner or an experienced horse handler. Covering everything you need to know about facilities, breeding, and health care, this new edition features a photographic gallery of many types of horses; expanded material on recognizing, preventing, and treating a wide range of health issues, including insulin resistance, skin conditions, and digestive disorders; new vaccination protocols, including vaccinating for West Nile Virus; and updated information on breeding methods, foaling problems, and the care of broodmares and new foals.


To Velma Ravndal — my 4-H leader and mentor — who shared her love and knowledge of horses, and her high standards of horsemanship, with many eager young riders.

We learned from her that good horsemanship always has a purpose: to promote unity of horse and rider, always with the best interests of the horse at heart. My commitment to horses and my desire to share that commitment with others in my writing is a direct result of her inspiration and guidance during my youth.



Part I: Basic Horsekeeping

1. Facilities




Tack Room

Feed Room

Run-In Shed

Fences and Paddocks


Make Sure All Facilities Are Hazard-Free

2. Feeding and Nutrition

Horse Digestion

Basic Nutritional Requirements

Roughages (Forages)


Pelleted Feeds


Feed Each Horse as an Individual

3. Seasonal Care

Winter Care

Spring Care

Summer Care

Fall Care

Good Care Is Essential

4. Foot Care

What Makes a Sound Hoof?

Foot Conformation

Basic Foot Care

Going Barefoot


White Line Disease

Foot Injuries

Diagnosing Lameness

5. Horse Handling

Horse Sense

Understanding the Horse's Temperament

Cultivating a Good Relationship

Punishing Bad Behavior

Holding a Horse

Tying a Horse

Handling Feet

Using Restraints Properly

Dealing with Bad Manners

Reforming the Mannerless Horse

The Overly Aggressive Horse

Part II: Health Care

6. Reading the Signs of Health and Sickness

Vital Signs

Body Language

Be Observant

7. Disease Prevention

What Is Disease?

How the Immune System Works

Vaccination Schedules

Vaccinating Your Horse

Adverse Reactions to Injections

8. Infectious Diseases of Horses


Equine Encephalomyelitis

West Nile Virus





Equine Viral Arteritis (EVA)

Equine Infectious Anemia (EIA)


Potomac Horse Fever (PHF)






Vesicular Stomatitis (VS)

Lyme Disease

Equine Protozoal Myeloencephalitis (EPM)

Conscientious Care

9. Noninfectious Diseases of Horses



Heaves (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease)

Cushing's Disease (Pituitary Pars Intermedia Dysfunction)

Equine Metabolic Syndrome (EMS)


Laminitis (Founder)

Navicular Syndrome

Muscles Tying Up (Exertional Rhabdomyolysis)


Other Diseases

10. Parasites

Internal Parasites

The Battle against Internal Parasites

External Parasites

11. Toxic Plants and Poisons

Toxic Vegetation

Blister Beetle Poisoning

Chemical Poisons

12. Skin Problems

Allergies and Hives


Fungal Infections

Rain Rot



Sarcoid Tumors

13. Mental Care and Mouth Problems

Sore Mouth

The Teeth

Tooth Problems

Dental Checkups

14. Eyes and Ears

Eye Problems

Ear Problems

15. Digestive Tract Problems and Colic

Signs of Colic

Types and Causes of Colic

Gastric Ulcers

16. First Aid and Medical Treatment

Emergency Situations

Dealing with Wounds


Head Injuries





Porcupine Quills

Urinary Stones

Sheath Swellings

Alternative Treatments

Rehabilitation Facilities and Techniques


Part III: Breeding Horses

17. Selecting Breeding Stock

What Breed?


Selecting Broodmares

Selecting Stallions

18. Genetics

Inheritance of Traits

The Genetics of Color

Types of Breeding

Genetic Defects

Know Your Horses' Genetics

19. Keeping a Stallion

Facilities for a Stallion

Handling a Stallion

Extra Training

Pasture Breeding

Age and Fertility

Breeding Fee

20. Breeding the Mare

The Reproductive Tract

Sending a Mare to Be Bred

Breeding to Your Own Stallion

Understanding Heat Cycles

Teasing Mares

Preparing the Mare for Breeding

The Service

Artificial Insemination (AI)

Fertility Problems in Mares

21. Care of Broodmare

Care of the Mare before Breeding


Udder Problems

Countdown to Foaling

22. Foaling

The Foaling Place

When Will She Foal?

Signs of Approaching Labor

Early Labor

Second-Stage (Active) Labor

Breathing after Birth

After a Normal Delivery

Final Stage of Labor

Care of the Mare after Foaling

23. Care of the Newborn Foal

Care Immediately after the Birth


The Importance of Colostrum

Bowel Movements

Problems of a Newborn Foal

Premature Foal

Orphan Foal

24. Care of the Young Horse

Handling the Foal

Feeding the Foal

Health Care and Problems of the Foal

Weaning the Foal

Feeding Weanlings and Yearlings

Care of Weanlings and Yearlings


Horse Anatomy



Additional Interior Credits


Raise a Healthy, Happy Horse with More Books from Storey

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Share Your Experience!


For thousands of years, the horse has served humankind; our history is inextricably linked with his. Until recently, he has been our chief means of transportation and source of power for farming. After the invention of tractors and cars, horses' numbers dwindled, but, since the 1950s, there has been renewed interest in horses — for sport and pleasure and for working small farms.

The horse of the twenty-first century has a distinct advantage over his forebears. In the early days, nearly everyone owned a horse, the principal means of conveyance. Many people did not have the aptitude, understanding, or patience to be good horse handlers or caretakers. Today, horses are no longer needed for transportation, and people who own horses enjoy and appreciate them. Now, perhaps as in no other time in history, the horse in the United States is owned by folks who respect him, seek to understand him, and want to do their best to take good care of him.

Our biggest stumbling block as horse owners comes from our Computer Age way of thinking: wanting to accomplish everything quickly, whether training a horse or learning to ride. Contemporary conveniences and time-saving devices have spoiled us; we want shortcuts. There is no shortcut to becoming a good horseman or horsewoman, a knowledgeable horse owner, and a good horse breeder. There's no substitute for time invested and the desire to learn all we can. It can take a lifetime.

Dedication makes a horse person. Only one who seeks to understand a horse can truly enjoy him. The casual horse enthusiast may admire a horse from a distance or ride one on weekends, but that person is missing a great deal. One who lives with horses, cares for them daily, and works with them, sincerely trying to improve horsemanship and understanding while continually thinking about them, their problems, and their personalities — that person will get the most satisfaction from horses.

Fully enjoying horses involves more than admiring them in pictures or watching one gallop across a pasture. The key to really enjoying horses is doing — feeding, grooming, breeding, showing, moving cattle, racing, jumping, or riding for pleasure. We all need a sense of belonging — a realm in which we feel at home and with which we identify. Working with horses and accomplishing something with them can give us this sense of purpose.

Understanding and experience make a good horseman. An intuitive "feel" for horses — a sense of what a horse needs at a certain time and how best to care for him — makes a responsible horseman. Part of fully enjoying a horse is caring for him as best we can: being able to tell when he's fit and healthy and when he isn't, and, if he isn't, being able to tell what he needs and whether he needs veterinary attention.

Your horse needs proper care — the right amount and right kind of feed, and enough of the right kind of exercise to keep him fit and in condition for the work he is to do. The good horse person cares for his or her horses as regularly and responsibly as possible, as one would care for and love a child or friend. When it comes to horses, the dedicated horse person is a perfectionist and will do anything and everything to take proper care of them and learn what that proper care entails.

Horses are unique creatures. The horseman must come to understand each horse in his care, learning what's best for each individual in a given situation. There is no substitute for the "eye of the master." The person who understands a horse will give him the proper amount of work and rest, reward and discipline. Horse owners have an enormous responsibility, for these animals are totally dependent on us for their existence and well-being.

Caring for a horse is a challenge, and there is much to learn. The serious student of horses today is fortunate because there are many sources of help and advice. This book does not attempt to cover all aspects of horse care and breeding but will be useful to the reader who wants to learn about the basics of good horsekeeping, raising horses, and their health and soundness.

My aim in this book is to provide useful information to the horse owner with special emphasis on horse care and "intelligent horsekeeping." This is a book not on training (although every time you handle a horse you are training him, for better or worse) but on horse husbandry — the art of keeping a horse fit and healthy in body and spirit. Learn from your horses and they will learn from you.

In this updated edition, I have included cutting-edge information from current research and have deleted a few passages that were based on outdated ideas or theories. Modern technology and medical research, for example, have given us new feed products for insulin-resistant horses and horses with muscle problems, new treatments for EPM, new vaccines for influenza, an equine vaccine for leptospirosis, and a vaccine for West Nile virus, which was unheard of in North America when this book was originally written.

Research has also given us better strategies for parasite control. Genetic research has shed more light on several devastating inherited defects in certain breeds and family lines of horses, and new DNA tests have given us ways to check for these when selecting breeding stock. Several new sections have been added to various chapters to bring the reader up to date on current horse-care practices.

For specific information regarding training horses, see Storey's Guide to Training Horses.

Author's Note: Throughout the text, except when referring to mares or fillies, I use the masculine pronoun to refer to horses. This is done for simplicity and reader ease.

Part IBasic Horsekeeping


Well-designed, user-friendly facilities will make your job easier when caring for horses.

Good horsekeeping involves two important, interrelated components: dedicated and conscientious personal care of each animal and the use of good facilities. Conscientious care entails regular daily feeding and maintenance if horses are confined and daily inspection if they're at pasture. But even with the best of care, if you don't have good facilities for your horses, they may become ill or injured. For example, a poorly ventilated barn may cause respiratory problems, a stall that's too small may get a foaling mare into trouble, a poorly designed or worn-out fence may invite injury, and a weedy pasture containing toxic plants may cause colic or fatal illness. If you strive to make sure that your facilities are adequate, safe, and in good repair, you can greatly reduce the risk of injury to your horses. And you make your own job of caring for each animal much easier.

The more natural the conditions in which your horse lives, the healthier and happier he likely will be. This usually means outdoors rather than indoors, at pasture rather than confined in a corral, living with a buddy instead of in isolation, and so forth. But we can't always keep our horses in an ideal situation and must make do with artificial conditions, striving to make the facilities as safe and horse-friendly as possible.


If you have adequate acreage to provide pasture for your horse or horses, the pasture will be your most important "facility." All too often a pasture area is used as just a turnout space, with little thought as to keeping the plants healthy and protected from overgrazing. Horses tend to use some parts of a pasture more heavily than others. They graze the same plants over and over. They also trample out the plants in areas where they spend time resting or swatting flies or interacting with neighbor horses across the fence. To keep a pasture viable, you need a management plan to control or alternate grazing use.

Small-Pasture Woes

In a small pasture, horses may beat out the grass in certain areas near fences or watering places, under shade trees, and so on. They'll overgraze their favorite types of grass, leaving others. Horses also don't like to graze grass that grows where they have defecated.

Good pasture is the best feed for mares and foals and for growing young horses. Mature idle horses may not need all the nutrients green pasture provides and often get too fat (unless their time on pasture is limited or a grazing muzzle is used), but having pasture gives you some options for feeding and for allowing horses room to exercise.

The size of pasture needed to support a horse varies greatly depending on climate (a wet climate grows more grass than a dry one, unless you provide extra water with irrigation), soil fertility, and types of grasses growing there. It takes a lot more dryland acreage to support a horse than well-watered green pasture.

A pasture should be large enough for the number of horses intended to graze it and should carry several types of palatable grasses. A mix of clover or some other legume with grass makes good pasture; legumes are high in protein. A pasture with too much clover, however, can be detrimental to horses — if they eat too much, they may founder.


On Sale
Feb 16, 2021
Page Count
448 pages


Heather Smith Thomas

About the Author

Heather Smith Thomas has written extensively on animal health care, authoring thousands of articles and 24 books on the subject. Her books include Storey’s Guide to Raising Beef Cattle, Essential Guide to Calving, Getting Started with Beef & Dairy CattleThe Cattle Health Handbook, The Horse Conformation Handbook, Storey’s Guide to Raising Horses, Storey’s Guide to Training Horses, and Stable Smarts. She raises cattle and horses on her family ranch in Salmon, Idaho.

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