Healing Hearts and Horses with Heidi Thomas

The love affair began when she was four.

Nettie’s sisters snatched her stuffed bear away and teased her, holding it just beyond her reach. Tears and shrieks did no good. They laughed and ran outside.

Papa picked her up, put her on the broad back of their plow horse, and led them in a slow walk around the corral. Toby’s warmth and the strength of his muscles spread through her body and the rocking motion soothed her baby grief.

Instantly she knew. This was home.

There’s something special about a woman and a horse and the healing, comforting bond they forge. So many western women have found special friendship with their horses. My grandmother in the 1920s was no exception.

My “Cowgirl Dreams” trilogy was inspired by Grandma’s life. She was more at home on the back of a horse than behind a dust mop and wrote of her horses as her “pals.”

Rescuing Samantha continues that theme of healing hearts and horses. Samantha Moser leases the Montana ranch that once belonged to her great grandparents. Like her great-grandmother, she has always felt a close kinship with horses, and city life is a track to failure.

Because she has a rescued Thoroughbred, she dreams of raising a herd of her own, but soon discovers not only financial obstacles, but also harsh, frigid winters and too many miles between the remote ranch and towns of any size. After working with her fiancé to fix up the dilapidated ranch, a disastrous, life-threatening blizzard experience sends him packing and leaves her to struggle on her own.

Samantha discovers, almost by accident, how troubled kids can come out of their shells and begin the road to healing by bonding with a horse.

Reading and watching documentaries about how horses can work miracles for children, veterans, and the disabled, I have incorporated some of these ideas into this new “Rescuing” series. As many of us have learned, never give up on your dreams, but be open to the dream changing. Like her great-grandmother before, Samantha also learns this lesson.

Excerpt from Chapter One of Rescuing Samantha:


360 acres prime pastureland. Ingomar, MT. Great starter ranch.

Samantha Moser’s heartbeat echoed every bump in the dusty country road. She was coming home.

Even though she’d never seen this ranch, its history was as much a part of her as the blood pulsing through her veins. Her great-grandparents had once owned this piece of Montana. Made a new beginning here. Realized a dream here. Sam could hardly breathe, and it wasn’t just the dust swirling through the open windows of the car. This might be her chance for her own new beginning.

Scrapbook pictures from the 1940s and ’50s, when Great-Grandma Nettie and Grandpa Jake lived here, conjured images. A white two-story house with a wrap-around porch.  A leafy cottonwood tree in front where a hammock swung. And a tall, classic red barn with white trim, horses in the corral. Sam rubbed her sweaty palms on her jeans. I can’t wait to see it. The Realtor said it was a “fixer-upper,” but surely a few repairs and a coat of paint would spruce the place up.

The spring-fresh prairie spread around them like an endless sea, broken only by undulating hills until it reached the low horizon, seemingly the end of the earth. This is how Sam remembered her childhood in Montana, before her family moved to Arizona. This is what had been calling to her since she was ten: Come home, come home.

Do you have a dream you’ve pursued, or want to follow?

Post your answer for a chance to win a copy of Cowgirl Dreams!


Heidi M. Thomas grew up on a working ranch in eastern Montana. She had parents who taught her a love of books and a grandmother who rode bucking stock in rodeos. Describing herself as “born with ink in my veins,” Heidi followed her dream of writing with a journalism degree from the University of Montana and later turned to her first love, fiction, to write her grandmother’s story.

Heidi is a member of Women Writing the West, Professional Writers of Prescott, and Arizona Authors Association, is also a manuscript editor, and teaches local memoir and fiction writing classes.

She is an avid reader of all kinds of books, enjoys the sunshine and hiking in north-central Arizona, where she writes, edits, and teaches memoir and fiction writing classes.

Heidi is also the “human” for a finicky feline, and describes herself primarily as a “cat herder.”

Her website is: https://www.heidimthomas.com



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50 thoughts on “Healing Hearts and Horses with Heidi Thomas”

  1. Your book sounds wonderful! It is so beautiful that the book is based on your grandmother’s life. My dream is to make a difference in people’s lives by healing. I’m in college, and I’m pursuing medicine, hoping that I reach where I want to with it someday. Also, I am such a fan of your American Dreams books, I adore them so much!

  2. Your book sounds amazing. Horses were my life growing up. I was a very lucky girl who had horses at my beck and call, my dad calf roped and he had me in horses before I crawled.
    Thanks for stopping by.

  3. Good morning! I absolutely love that first old fashioned cover! I haven’t pet or rode a horse in years but I love them! Horses and all animals are very therapeutic! Just brushing, petting and talking to a horse can do so much for people’s mental health and wellbeing. I have MS and I know there are programs for people with MS & horses. They even have lifts, special equipment & saddles for the MSers that can’t walk to be able to ride. Just being up at that height when a paralyzed person is normally just at wheelchair, bed & chair level is an awesome experience.

    I don’t even remember what my dreams are I guess somewhere along the way I gave up on having a dream. I’d love to be able to travel & check things off my bucket list but I don’t see that happening.

    You grew up on a ranch in Montana and your Grandmother rode bucking stock!?!? What an awesome childhood that was.

    A giveaway is an awesome way to find a new author to add to my go to authors list. I’d love the opportunity to read one of your books!

    Stay safe! Happy Spring! ????????

  4. I dreamed of becoming an author aw a child. That’s one dream I’ve made come true. Beautiful article!

  5. My dream was to become a teacher – probably kindergarten. I graduated from college at 39 years old. I eventually found a job teaching 3 and 4 year old (Head Start). During the time looking for the job teaching young children I taught mentally handicapped adults how to do their jobs. I also taught 4 and 5 year olds at church for over 20 years. My dream was realized!

  6. I always wanted to write and publish fiction and I’m finally doing it. First book in print when I was 58 but that’s okay.
    Heidi, this reminds me of the Canadian TV series “Heartland” which my husband and I binge-watched over the winter. There is something special about a horse, and they deserve to be saved.
    Thanks for sharing!
    Kathy Bailey

    • Kathy, thank you for the reference to “Heartland.” I LOVE that program. Discovered it after I had started writing my rescue series. My first book was published when I was 58 or 59 too!

  7. What a beautiful and inspiring post and book. Writing about your grandmother’s life is wonderful, profound and meaningful. When I read this type of book it is unforgettable and a real treasure.
    Dreams are wonderful and especially when they come true. Just becoming healthy after life threatening illnesses is something which I am grateful for.

  8. I enjoyed learning about your captivating book. How very special to honor your grandmother. A dream for me was to finish university and become a librarian. I was fortunate to finally succeed when I was raising a family.

  9. Cowgirl Dreams sounds memorable and wonderful. Writing about our ancestors gives our lives importance and meaning. Thank you for your fascinating glimpse into your grandmother’s life. Achieving dreams is what life is about. having a business that is successful and hard work is what I dreamed about.

  10. Your book sounds so good! I had a dream of being a mom and I am a mom to 7 wonderful children! Right now I am pursuing a dream of being healthy, fit and getting my body back!

  11. Your book sounds amazing I always dreamed of Marrying and having children and grandbabies so My dream came through and I adore all 5 of my adult children my 15 grandbabies which some of them are adults now and My 6 Great Grandchildren Thank you for this amazing giveaway as I love reading !

  12. Hi Heidi! I love your stories, especially Her Lavender Valise! and my baby cousins love the Secret of the Ice Castle & other Inspirational Tales. I wish I could write like you, you have such a way with words! I guess that would be one of my dreams, to just enchant someone like you do, with my words. I am an aspiring writer and authors like yourself are my hugest inspiration.

  13. I dreamed of writing stories. During the summer of 2020 during the pandemic, I had time to write. I am now a published author of several children’s magazines.

  14. Hi, your books sound like very good reads, and the covers are beautiful! I think my dream has come true, I was able to stay home when my 2 now grown children were born, up until they were in school. Later on after they started school, I worked pastime in a daycare, I also subed in our schools in the different offices. I volunteered as a catechist for over 25 yrs. I have 3 grandchildren who are growing up so fast, I was able to help take care of 2 of my grandchildren since my daughter and son in law were RN’s in our local hospital and they worked the night shift, they later started working the day shift so that they would be at work while the kiddos were at school and so that they could spend more time with them. Later on when our 2 grandchildren live that live in our same town started school, I volunteered as a reading mentor for about 5 yrs. I wanted to be a Special Ed. teacher , I didn’t become one, but I feel I did help some kiddos while being a catechist and a reading mentor and also while working at our local schools working in the different offices. My dream has come true of being a wife, a mom, granny and helping out kiddos. My husband and I are happily retired now. and we have a 7 yr old pup. My life is Vert Good ,Thanks be to God. Have a Great weekend and stay safe.

  15. I had a few dreams. One was to have children, but the Lord did not allow that one to happen. My husband and I wanted to live in the mountains of West Virginia or Virginia. We were not able to find jobs. Our parents were still alive at the time we were married. We did not want to leave them to go to another state. We are now both handicapped. It would be almost impossible to navigate the mountains in our condition. I can still see in my memory all the beauty of the mountains. Thank you for sharing your time and your talent. God bless you.

  16. Your grandmother sounds like she was such a heroine! My grandmother has always been my heroine as well, she was so bold, brave & strong and was breaking stereotypes all the way back then! I am so proud that I am related to her, just like you are! It’s so exciting, to have such bold blood in your veins, isn’t it? It makes you feel like everything is possible and that the world is your oyster! My dream is to be worthy of her, to pave my own way as she did and to just follow my heart despite what everyone else thinks. I have such plans once I graduate college! Also, your books sounds so great, the fact that it has personal elements is so special!

  17. I got my first horse at 11 and had to sell my horses at 18 when I moved from my childhood farm. Unfortunately my husband “hates” horses so that was the end of my horse ownership but I still love them and stories about them.

  18. I started to college but married mid way through. I always want to go back and complete my education. I did it when my kids were in high school.

  19. I have pursued several dreams and have been lucky enough to grasp them. When I was in high school and President Kennedy announced the Peace Corps, I decided then and there I was going to become a volunteer. It took a few years to finish high school and college, but I left for training within a few weeks of graduation. I spent 3 wonderful years in country and wouldn’t trade the experience for anything. Marriage came shortly thereafter as did a family. My husband and I dreamed of someday having a nice, old, victorian house. The furniture we bought over the years had finishing such a house in mind. When my husband retired from the Air Force, we looked for such a house that met some other qualification. We found the perfect house, on a hill with an expansive view of a mountain range. It needed a lot of work, but after being around 100 years and not being taken care of that was to be expected. It gave us a chance to make it truly ours.

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