You may be unaware of how many plants are toxic to horses. Although, anyone involved in equestrianism will know how surprisingly fragile such powerful animals can be. They have a delicate digestive system which can be easily affected by eating poisonous plants. Some of the most poisonous plants for horses are:
In this article, we’ll share our top insider tips to keep your horse safe.
Which plants are toxic to horses?
Let’s start with one of the most common plants seen regularly in horse’s fields – ragwort. Ragwort has a distinctive yellow flower. It spreads quickly meaning keeping on top of its growth is vital.
Like with most plants that are toxic, horses won’t eat them unless there is nothing else available. However, would you want to take the risk of ragwort poisoning?
How to safely get rid of ragwort
Ragwort is also toxic to humans so it is advised to wear gloves when dealing with the plant. The most efficient way to remove ragwort is a ragwort fork which safely removes the plant, roots and all.
For more information on the safe removal and disposal of ragwort, read the information on DEFRA – the government department for environment, food and rural affairs.
Plants dangerous to horses – Laburnum
The seeds of the Laburnum are the most toxic part of the plants, however, all parts can be poisonous to equines.
Digestion of the plant can cause colic – an extremely painful and dangerous condition for any horse. It’s important to get veterinary advice if you suspect your horse may have colic.
Proper pasture management will help prevent the chance of poisoning from Deadly Nightshade. As the name may suggest, the plant is highly toxic and if found, should be removed by pulling up and burning all parts of the plant.
Deadly nightshade is a fairly uncommon plant but can be found mainly in scrub and woodland and areas with calcareous soil.
Trees poisonous to horses – Yew
Yew trees are poisonous to horses because they contain a group of compounds called taxines. Taxines are cardiotoxins, which means they can damage the heart.
They are evergreen trees or bushes with dark green leaves, growing up to 20 metres in height. The thick trunk is a red-brown colour with scaly and peeling bark and often has red berries.
Trees poisonous to horses – Sycamore
The ingestion of sycamore seeds, leaves and seedlings causes an often-fatal muscle condition called Atypical Myopathy (AM). AM is a fast killer of horses with a mortality rate of between 75 and 90%. The signs to look out for are lethargy, sweating, muscular stiffness, high heart rate, dark urine and difficulty standing.
The risk of ingestion is higher in autumn, when the seeds and leaves are blown from the trees. Remove them along with any sycamore seedlings that appear in spring.
Plants toxic to horses
These are just a handful of plants dangerous to horses and the list is by no means exhaustive. It’s important to regularly check your fields and paddocks for poisonous plants for horses.
If you think your horse has eaten any of these plants, it is important to seek veterinary attention immediately. Early treatment is essential for the best chance of recovery.
Visit our blog page for more information and care tips for your horses.