Thursday, September 24, 2009

Plants and Weeds Toxic to Horses

Horses have two things that could be envied by man. Horse power and horse sense have had their own impact over the years with fables containing heroic exploits of horse that were a display of horse sense and horse power. But these seem to have vanished with the horse finished, when nibbling and eating certain plants and weeds toxic to horses. At first these plants and weeds were unsuspecting but when they were eaten with gay abandon by horses, it proved to be fatal for them. People have classified certain plants and weeds toxic to horses. Either they were weeded or the horses were weaned away and thereby prevented from eating them.

How are plants and weeds toxic to horses identified? Ordinarily, weeds cannot be eaten as they are unpalatable. Only in extreme cases when horses do not have access to desirable forages they eat the weeds. But black cherry and red maple even when consumed in small amounts can cause toxic effects on horses. Wilted leaves from a blown down black cherry and maple in a heap can be easily eaten by the horse resulting in their death.

Red clover, Sudan grass, German millet, nitrates, lush pastures, fall fescue, all are pasture plants which look tempting for the horse but prove fatal when eaten. That the grass is greener on the other side could not possibly be as obvious as in this case. The black fungus on the leaves of red and white clover causes dehydration in a horse beading to its death.

The list of plants and weeds toxic to horses contains oleanders whose few leaves when eaten and the smoke they give out when burnt result in a horse�s death in the matter of eight to twenty four hours. Yellow star thistle is another plant that gives rise to �chewing disease�. Locoweed refers to plants, 20 species of which are poisonous to horses. Timber milk vetch is fast in producing the toxic effects in horse. Death results from asphyxiation.

Lupines also come under plants and weeds toxic to horses they are found in a wide variety of landscapes. Hemlock is another plant that is fatal to horses when they nibble at it. Ground ivy or Larkspur are yet another common plants and weeds toxic to horses. Chokecherry and wild cherry produce jelly like berries that get eaten by the horse only to get beaten in a matter of minutes.

Bracken fern, horse tail are found near streams and bogs which are common plants and weeds toxic to horses. Poisoning would also be effected by Caster beans, buckwheat, rhododendrons and their likes, leaves of tobacco and potato, Bermuda grass, flack locust and oak trees. Horses should be periodically allowed to graze in the open and not be confined to stables. Plants and weeds toxic to horses could be identified although the list is not exhaustive. All lush and green need not signify prosperity for horses. As we have snakes in the grass and wolves in sheep�s clothing there could be plants and weeds toxic to horses in them.

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