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Part 1: Knowing these toxic plants is important

Marsh horsetail and field horsetail
Marsh horsetail and field horsetail Photo: Archive

Finally, we've welcomed summer. This means more time outdoors for us and our horses, both in the pasture and on trail rides. Everything is blooming and green, and life has returned to nature. However, not all plants are safe for your horse—some are outright toxic and can have deadly consequences. Therefore, we're providing you with an overview of poisonous plants you may encounter both in the pasture and on your rides and from which your horse should stay away. If you notice any symptoms of poisoning in your horse, contact your veterinarian immediately.

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Common Oak

Symptoms of poisoning:

Depression, emaciation, hard and dark feces, colic. Later in the course, bloody diarrhea, mouth ulcers, and kidney failure may occur.

Growing locations:

Woodlands and forests across Europe and beyond. Many pastures have oak trees.

Common Yew

Symptoms of poisoning:

Colic, diarrhea, pupil dilation, dizziness, drowsiness. Initially increased heart rate and pulse, then slower. One and a half to 24 hours after ingestion, the horse may become unconscious, go into convulsions, and die.

Growing locations:

The common yew is native to Europe, western Asia and North Africa. It may be found singularly, in small groves, in moist forest or slopes, and the mountains of the Mediterranean.

Read also: Maple poisoning kills horses in Denmark 

Common Thuja

Symptoms of poisoning:

Seizures, colic, diarrhea, bleeding, liver and kidney damage, coma. Survival depends on any organ damage

Growing locations:

In gardens, parks, and in some forests.

Common Ragwort and Eastern Groundsel

Symptoms of poisoning:

Acute poisoning: Shock, tremors, sweating, panting, unsteady gait, and lack of orientation. Chronic poisoning: The horse walks restlessly, staggers, exhibits unsteady gait, lethargy, blindness, presses its head against the wall, has a distended abdomen, develops fluid accumulations, weight loss, and yellow mucous membranes.

Growing locations:

Often grows in sandy and calcareous-poor soils. It is found in disturbed areas such as roadside verges, fallow fields, and gravel pits. From there, it spreads to grass, clover, and alfalfa fields.

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Golden Chain. Photo: Archive

Golden Chain

Symptoms of poisoning:

Colic, diarrhea, yawning, cramps, staggering, sweating, nervousness, convulsions, high pulse, trembling muscles, and shortness of breath. The lethal dose is 200 grams, as this can paralyze the organs. Poisoning can also cause abortion.

Growing locations:

Found throughout Europe.

Yellow Iris

Symptoms of poisoning:

Rash and skin irritations. The fluid from the plant can cause erosion of the mucous membranes.

Growing locations:

Grows near nutrient-rich swamps, wet meadows, and in shallow water in reed beds. It is native to Europe, North Africa, and Asia.

Read also: Avoid poisoning: Your horse CANNOT eat this

Wood Anemone

Symptoms of poisoning:

Drooling, inflammation, and swelling in the mouth, as well as the risk of damage to the digestive tract. Diarrhea and dark/bloody urine, staggering, and weakening of vision. Risk of seizures and respiratory paralysis.

Growing locations:

it is often found in woodland, though it also grows in grassland, heaths and hedge banks.

Marsh Horsetail and Field Horsetail

Symptoms of poisoning:

Neither marsh horsetail nor field horsetail is toxic in small quantities. If the plant is consumed over a longer period, symptoms include nervous disturbances, loss of appetite, depression, diarrhea, decreased heart function, and severe general weakness.

Growing locations:

Grows in humid areas, preferably along streams, lakes, and meadows. Often seen in grassland areas.

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