How to prevent your horse eating poisonous plants

Poisionous plants: Thoroughbred horses Clover and Heather at Burford rehoming centre
  • Common poisonous plants

    • Ragwort
    • Foxglove
    • Nightshade
    • Hemlock
    • Sycamore
    • Buttercups
    Uproot poisonous plants before they go to seed. Remove them from the field and burn them. Some hazardous plants, like buttercups, may only be eradicated by spraying with a suitable weed killer.
  • Spot spray small areas and individual plants. The best time to do this is when the plants are still young. If plants cover a large area, contact a professional for help. Always seek professional advice when using herbicides and remember horses should not be allowed back onto the pasture until there has been enough heavy rainfall to wash the chemicals from the leaves.

  • Keep poisonous tress and hedges fenced off and cut well back to prevent horses reaching them over the fence
  • Ornamental plants, trees and shrubs are likely to be poisonous, so fence them off if in doubt
  • Seedlings and seeds in autumn may also need collecting or fencing off to prevent ingestion
  • If your paddocks back onto gardens, it’s a good idea to check that none of these are growing over into grazing areas. Make sure that kind-hearted gardeners aren’t giving prunings to your horses to eat!
  • Many plant poisons are cumulative, so if your horse eats them with no ill side effects it shouldn’t mean you should continue to let it eat them.
  • Very importantly, if you suspect your horse has eaten a poisonous plant, call your vet immediately.
  • The poisonous plants most commonly found are: ragwort, foxglove, nightshade (deadly and woody), hemlock, sycamore and buttercups. Poisonous trees also include yew, oak and laburnum, and hedges, privet, laurel and rhododendron. Find out more about theses on our Nine poisonous plants horses should avoid page.
— Page last updated 10/12/2018

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