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The 5 Poisonous Plants that Horses Should Avoid | Foss Feeds Information Centre

The 5 Poisonous Plants that Horses Should Avoid

Keeping your horse healthy and strong is a number one priority, from frequent health checks to daily grooming and riding, there are lots of ways in which you can achieve this. There is, however, one thing that you need to be aware of in order to prevent your horse from suffering in any way. Whilst the great outdoors is the best place for your horse to roam around and get the fresh air they require, they may also be exposed to certain plants and trees that are highly poisonous to them, which can have extreme effects on their health if consumed. Continue reading to find out all about the plants and trees that your horse needs to avoid at all costs.


When it comes to ragwort, it’s very difficult to know exactly when the plant is most dangerous to your horse. Whilst the plant is growing, you often find that it has an extremely bitter taste and therefore is not appealing to horses. Once the ragwort wilts and dries, however, it becomes an extremely dangerous plant for horses. If your horse were to consume the ragwort once wilted and dried, there is a high risk of liver failure and possibly death, as the ragwort contains toxins that are lethal to horses. This makes it so important for you to be aware of the risks of ragwort and therefore ensure your horses paddock is clear of the plant. If you do find ragwort in or around your horse’s paddock, you need to dig it up at the roots and burn it. Be sure to check the area regularly for ragwort and if needed, move your horse to another location for a temporary period.


After an Oak tree has dropped its acorns, they then become a threat to horses. If a horse were to consume a large number of acorns they run the risk of suffering from severe colic and poisoning. Whilst your horse would need to consume a lot of acorns in order for them to cause serious damage, you never know how much your horse may consume over the course of a day or a week when grazing around in their paddock. With this in mind, it’s always beneficial to do regular checks of the fields, collecting any fallen acorns from the ground or even moving your horse to another field for the autumn months, just until the Oak tree has shed all of its acorns.


Commonly known as helicopter seeds, sycamores have recently become a threat to horses all over Britain. With the condition Atypical Myopathy (AM) becoming much more known across the UK, it’s become clear that the cause for this muscle condition is the consumption of sycamore seeds and leaves. Sycamore seeds are known to have been fatal for horses in the past, and with the number of fatalities rising it’s becoming more of a warning for horse owners throughout the UK. You often find that sycamore seeds are most common in the autumn time, with the wind blowing the seeds from field to field, making it difficult to keep on top of and control. In order to prevent your horse from digesting any sycamore seeds, the best option is to remove any fallen sycamore seeds as often as possible, whilst isolating the sycamore trees and keeping your horses as far away from them as possible.


You often find that horses avoid foxglove when in fields, as the texture and taste is not appealing to them. The issue with foxglove, however, is that it can make its way into hay, and once consumed by a horse it can cause extreme breathing problems and potential fatalities.


From the leaves through to the bark of the tree, yew is extremely hazardous to horses and must be avoided at all costs. The moment a horse consumes the yew, they are at risk from cardiac arrest, muscle trembling and breathing issues. Whilst not all symptoms are life threatening, there have been many cases where the horse has lost its life due to only a small amount of the yew toxins entering their system. Unfortunately, there is no treatment for the yew, however, you can control the risk by keeping your horses in a yew-free field and ensuring they have no exposure to the tree at any point throughout their life. 

Have you got any additional information or advice reagarding certain plants that your horse should be avoiding? Perhaps you have a story of your own to share! Let us know on Facebook or Twitter and help us spread awareness on these poisonous plants!